Within a cranberry’s whiff of Christmas Day, Valentine red and chocolate eggs rolled into shop aisles. 2017 calendars hung about, while we had not begun to enter 2018 diary dates. January morphed into February, to an inevitable of Valentine’s Day refrain, a recitation of pancake recipes and Lenten denials.

Mr Bookwagon will not be overlooked on St Valentine’s Day, but I am diverted by the coinciding International Book Giving Day. The aim of this initiative is ‘to get books into as many hands as possible.’ Statistics that offer 1/3 of children in Britain do not own books are shameful. While a buoyant, supported national library system is essential, so is the opportunity to own books from childhood. Books offer the pass to personal freedom.

The Evidence

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility undertaken over a twenty year period showed that children with books at home progress, by an international average, more than three years further in their education. Economic and social background, nationality, or parents’ profession and educational background have no impact on this result. The more books, the greater the educational momentum.

About the evidence

This research was led by Dr. Mariah Evans, an associate professor of sociology and resource economics at the University of Nevada. She was joined by researchers from the UCLA and The Australian National University. Researchers suggested the following reasons for these results:-

  • a greater opportunity to read and talk about books at home from infancy;
  • children being able to use books to build knowledge and understanding rather than assume opinion;
  • a home in which children have books is more likely to be one in which the adults read and adult readers are essential learning role-models;
  • skills and culture are gathered from books which enable learning and advancement in school;
  • children with books at home are positive about learning and have greater educational stamina. 

I’m more excited about International Book Giving Day this year, since Maz Evans’ #BookBuddy initiative- Teen Librarian Interview with Maz Evans’ Book Buddy Bookwagon, as I explained last week, has been matched to two schools. I delight in the prospect of sending books to these schools next week, and building a reading relationship.

Reasons to Give Books

At the same time, I do not delight in the various reasons that this relationship is so necessary. Our national library service is under unprecedented pressure due to shortfalls in funding- We no longer have a national library system.  Of teachers responding to surveys sent by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and National Union of Teachers in autumn 2017, 73% reported cuts to funding for books. Meanwhile independent bookstores have closed year on year since 2005, hit by e-books, chainstore subsidised discounts, Amazon, and a public that does not read (!)

  The gift of books is the pass to personal freedom

Yet, I remain hopeful. We established Bookwagon nine months ago, because I am hopeful. Parents, friends, family, acquaintances and people I encounter are overwhelmingly concerned by and interested in reading. Like the children I taught, the children I meet now, delight in reading.

Giving books- the pass to personal freedom

I have always given books ‘internationally.’ As a British resident for many years, I have given books to my family and friends in New Zealand and Australia. Mr Bookwagon and I have always exchanged books. One of his first gifts was an early edition of Katherine Mansfield’s Collected Short Stories, knowing how much this writer means to me. Giving books on International Book Giving Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays or at Christmas demonstrates a love of the recipient and a desire to share something meaningful. So will you give a book on International Book Giving Day? Will you offer the pass to personal freedom?


Yesterday was one of the most important days in the United States’ children’s book calendar with the announcement of the annual American Library Association youth media awards. Bookwagon had ‘dibs’ on the likely winners. I’ve a few titles on the wagon that I was sure I could draw out with a proud drum roll. However, the winning book is unavailable to British independent book shops. ‘Hello, Universe‘ by Erin Estrada Kelly won the John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature in 2018.

Other winners

Wolf in the Snow‘ by Matthew Cordell won The Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book. It too, is unavailable in Britain, as yet.

Piecing Me Together‘ by Renee Watson won the Coretta Scott King Award, that recognises African American writers of outstanding books for children and young adults. I am currently reading this title and look forward to including it on the wagon.

We look forward to presenting the other major winning titles to our readers as soon as they are available and we have read them and believe they may be enjoyed by you. 

Meanwhile, Bookwagon is proud to sell the following ALA winners:-

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn                 The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Wolf Hollow                                                                 Last Stop on Market Street

Roller Girl                                                                    The Crossover

El Deafo                                                                       The One and Only Ivan

When You Reach Me                                                    The Graveyard Book

Al Capone Does My Shirts                                           Hoot

Because of Winn-Dixie                                                 A Wrinkle in Time

BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award

I trust some of our lovely readers have booked into sessions at this year’s Southbank Imagine Festival that celebrates children’s literature across a week, every year. The highlight is the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award 2018. Husband and wife picture book writers, John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, were announced as this year’s recipients last week. I am overjoyed.  Helen Oxenbury’s Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes amongst a wealth of other works, is an essential for every baby. Meanwhile, if I could, I would have every one of John Burningham’s inspired, original titles aboard the wagon. He is quite magnificent. I have loved his books for many, many years. Current titles by John Burningham stocked by Bookwagon include:-HusherbyeAvocado Baby  Mouse House and Motor Miles.

An invitation

We have a wealth of new, varied and wonderful titles aboard our Bookwagon. Should you seek extra inspiration, use our tag clouds, check out our cross-sells, browse our latest titles’ category. We are only a phone call or email away should you seek a specific recommendation or idea. Happy International Book Giving Day.

Happy reading.

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