So how do you read?

How do you read?’ This question has been prompted through my visit to a schools’ reading resources’ provider’s website. As I browsed, I became frustrated, as I would have as a young reader. Titles within series had been separated through the variety of levelling systems offered. One book from a series may have been included on one level, but in order to read the succeeding book, the reader would have to wait until he/she had read the other books on that first level. So much time and waiting! What differences in text might there be between the individual titles? It is surely preferable for any reader to have a fully realised understanding of a story, style or voice?

I thought to my own experience, the experience of children I’ve taught and within my family. There was a blast of empathetic frustration! So, how do you read?

I want to read everything written by an author, or within a series when I really like a book. Most recently, I felt that way about the works of Holly Goldberg Sloan, after being knocked sideways by the magnificent Counting by 7s. I am happy to learn she’s a potential winner of the Newbery Honor award, announced next week, with her latest title. 

Today, I read Dan Smith’s latest thriller Below Zero . My godson, Jake, introduced me to Dan Smith. He wrote about Boy X for Bookwagon. I was terrified to read ‘Below Zero‘ as I have an overactive imagination that anticipates anything scary. I read the title during warmer daylight hours, reassured there would be no seafood on our evening menu. As the story concluded, I began to anticipate its sequel, where Zak might overcome the elusive Phoenix.

Overcoming is in our minds as we commemorate 100 years since Britain granted women the vote:-  Centenary of Women’s Suffrage.

Aboard the Bookwagon are  books that commemorate women’s suffrage, from those created specifically, like Make More Noise! to others that share and compare women’s experiences, like works by Emma Carroll, such as In Darkling Wood. Helen Peters compares experience across a century in the subtle, brilliantly researched  Evie’s Ghost. Researcher Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Who Made History offers punchy, proud information in a really approachable manner.

From Ursula Le Guin to Katherine Rundell

Fantasy and science fiction writer, Ursula Le Guin died at the end of January. Her works and experience influenced many readers. At school, I won ‘The Wizard of Earthsea‘ series as an English prize. Her genre was not a natural fit to me, yet those stories have lingered. She said:-

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.’

Considering these words, Ursula Le Guin’s influence, while commemorating women’s suffrage makes me think of the battles won and the battles ahead. However, reading, especially from an early age, offers validity in our truth. Katherine Rundell’s fearless experience influences her writing and readers. Katherine was the recipient of the Edward Stanford London Book Fair Children’s Travel Book of the Year award for The Explorer. Her determination, resilience and curiosity shine through in her works.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Early and constant reading experiences are essential for children. The theme of Children’s Mental Health Week 2018 is celebrating uniqueness; developing ‘a positive view of ourselves that can help us to cope with life’s challenges,  recognising the different qualities of others that allow us to connect with those around us‘.

The Reading Agency’s 10-year programme of research reported, ‘Reading for pleasure can result in increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reductions in the symptoms of depression and improved wellbeing. In addition, reading for pleasure has social benefits and can improve our sense of connectedness to the wider community. Reading increases our understanding of our own identity, improves empathy and gives us an insight into the world view of others.’ 

Reading and Children’s Mental Health

Many books on the Bookwagon site offering a sense of validation and community. I felt this way about Counting by 7s, one of the best written books about bereavement and grief, for child or adult, I have ever read. Worry Angels offers Amy-May an opportunity to work and talk through her fears. The reappearance of an imaginary friend from infancy triggers 10-year old Jackson to reveal the overwhelming sense of responsibility he feels for his family’s poverty in the outstanding, Crenshaw. AJ worries that the authorities will remove him from his parents after his Grandad, who supported their learning needs, dies, in the beautiful, Running on Empty. Anxiety is at the heart of the brutal relationship explored magnificently by Stewart Foster in All The Things That Could Go Wrong.

Reading for All

It is appalling to learn that financial pressures precludes many schools from having consistently well-resourced reading provision. Many British schools rely on the generosity of  teaching staff, parents, volunteers, and charity shops, for books. Bookwagon donated boxes of books that we had read and decided to no longer stock, to six schools in London, Hertfordshire, Norwich and Merseyside over Christmas. Basic educational needs like reading books should not be so adversely affected by budgetary concerns. Into the breach arrives Maz Evans, writer of the wonderful Who Let the Gods Out? series. 


Using her considerable influence on Twitter, Maz has created #BookBuddy, wherein schools connect with writers and booksellers to build positive reading experiences. Bookwagon is delighted to be involved. We are matched with two schools. We are keenly working to secure future projects and book donations. If you would like to be involved in supporting a school through this wonderful project, please follow:-#bookbuddy on Twitter.

Best Wheel Forward 

Bookwagon aims to roll ahead constantly. We have been preparing for a big resources’ fair this week. Ahead are writer visits, book fairs and a number of other events, including the London Book Fair. Meanwhile, we are considering how our business might develop. Several customers have set up subscription services with us, while we have a number of enquiries about this possibility, and others. If you have ideas, suggestions, or specific reading needs, we would welcome your feedback, to:-

Keep warm, and happy reading.