Monthly mail • March 2021

Welcome to The Kidlit Collective – a celebration of children’s books and more

Books for Beginners

In our March issue, we look at the importance
of reading both inside and outside of the
classroom, while also sharing some of our most memorable childhood reads.

Let me being by saying, there are better books. Books with more literary weight and worth.
These, however, are the ones that somehow ‘stuck’ in my consciousness as a child.
In many instances, I don’t recall much, if any, of the story, I just know I enjoyed them. And it is these books that encouraged me to read more, and crucially, become a ‘reader’. In my humble opinion, quantity trumps quality when it comes to children’s reading. There shouldn’t be a checklist. If you want them to read the heavier stuff, they have to become readers first. And to become a ‘reader’ takes practice. Reading builds confidence. And like most pursuits, once it’s improved (and eventually mastered), it’s enjoyed much more than in those early days, when words are not always recognized and understood.
So many young people consider reading, a chore, often relegated to school or homework. For a huge number of parents, the struggle to get their children to pick up a book instead of an iPad is very real.
But if you can get a child reading outside the classroom and the accompanying homework; the likelihood of them finding some magic in those printed pages, and falling in love with books, is far, far greater.
This starts with kids choosing books they really like.

I don’t have a huge recollection of books at the very beginning of my childhood, but I do remember Eric Carle’s greedy caterpillar metamorphosizing into a butterfly. Fast forward a few decades and my three-year-old now recites this popular board book has sold 50 million copies world-wide.

Hey, I was an 80s/90s kid – Roald Dahl had to feature in there somewhere. And who could forget this repulsive pair. Childhood ‘yuks’ at their best.

Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. Oh to be one of the gang…
Amid all the adventuring, I had serious food envy over their many picnics.
Never could some cold ham, boiled eggs, crusty bread, ginger beer and buns, sound
more alluring.

Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. Oh to be one of the gang… Amid all the adventuring, I had serious food envy over their many picnics. Never could some cold ham, boiled eggs, crusty bread, ginger beer and buns, sound more alluring.

Not an obvious childhood read…so here’s a little context.

My parents would bring a vast number of books (all library or charity shop finds) on our summer holiday. Every
year we would spend a month in the South of France, which sounds terribly extravagant, but we towed our caravan

there, and us kids, happily whiled our days away at the campsite swimming pool, playing table tennis with platinum-
haired Dutch kids, and eating baguette smeared thickly in Nutella.

Exhausting my own stockpile of books (this, an era without iPads), I moved onto theirs.
Silence of the Lambs sticks in my mind, simply because I felt very grown-up reading it.

School reading is equally important. Here, children are exposed to books they largely wouldn't pick up themselves. It also ensures they keep reading, even if a book isn't to their liking.

This modern American literary juggernaut is one of those books that is worth returning to as an adult. In fact, such is To Kill a Mocking Bird’s unwavering acclaim, that in 20006, British librarians ranked it ahead of the Bible as a book that every adult should read before they die

I didn’t enjoy this novel to begin with. Written in brogue North East
Scots, reading the first handful of pages seemed an almost
insurmountable task. But Sunset Song would go on to become one
of my all-time favourite books.

My lovely English teacher (hello Mrs Gray/nee Crawford), suggested I try this. Well ahead of its
time, Sylvia Plath’s modern classic details one woman’s struggle with her identity in the face of
stifling social expectations.

For my sixth year school English dissertation, I studied man’s inhumanity to man, with a focus on WW2
concentration camps. I agree. What a horrendously dark topic.
Sophie’s Choice centres around the unthinkable decision the mother of two is forced to make when she arrives at
Auschwitz. The book’s core is so harrowing, I am not sure I could reread it now as a parent.


Each month, we share some extremely 'likeable' online illustrative work that caught our scrolling eye...

Inspired by movies, nature, wildlife, books, and science fiction; Lancashire-born and based illustrator, Jay Carter, also looks to architecture and history to get his creative juices flowing.
“I particularly enjoy the process of creating characters and environments as well as creating the right aesthetic,” he told The Kidlit Collective. “I feel that the best sorts of children’s illustrations are much like the best children’s stories – they connect with a wide demographic, both kids and adults. Echoing this sentiment, he added, “I really enjoy creating work that hopefully appeals to everyone.”
Jay works in Photoshop and Illustrator to create his punchy, color-packed images.
Having produced a series of illustrations to be used in school workbooks for Pearson Education, he more recently finished illustrating a children’s bedtime prayer book.
Catch Jay and all his fabulous work on Insta @jaycarterillustrator or head over to for some more visual gratification.


Delivering twists aplenty, author MargaretPeterson Haddix returns to the book scene thismonth with her second offering (paperback) in the popular Greystone Secrets series.               

The Deceivers continues on from the closingpages of The Strangers, with Ohio siblings,Chess, Emma and Finn Greystone, and their neighbour, Natalie Morales, vowing to return tothe strange, evil, alternate world they have onlyjust escaped from.
But if they stand any chance of rescuing theirmothers, the foursome have little choice but tocross back over. For it is here, in this wicked,parallel universe, where the truth is illegal, both women are trapped.
Exciting stuff, eh? Well for those desperate to complete the trilogy, they needn’t wait muchlonger. The final book, The Messengers is set to be released next month in hard back.

The Deceivers, out March 2021 in paperback, age
8-12 years.





J . M . B A R R I E / P E T E R P A N