Education Guardian’s Christmas gift ideas from teachers and authors, with Anne Fine, Holly Smale, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson…
Three of the recommendations below – for the rest, follow the link
The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui (translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)
Recommended by Michael Morpurgo, children’s author, best known for War Horse, Kensuke’s Kingdom and Private Peaceful
I loved this book. Pushkin Children’s Books are to be congratulated in making it available to an English audience. How important it is, in these times, that our children read the stories from other peoples, other cultures, other times.
Set in Tokyo just before the second world war, the Little People, Bilbo, Fern and their children, Robin and Iris, live on a shelf in a dusty room full of books and are cared for by the Moriyama family. The Little People have been entrusted to the Moriyamas by an English teacher, Miss MacLachlan, who has to leave Japan after 20 years’ teaching English as the war comes closer. There is a strong sense of place and the changing seasons are beautifully described. While the story has elements of the work of Oscar Wilde and Hans Christian Andersen, the author admits to having been inspired by Kenneth Grahame and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
It’s a short novel, suitable for ages nine- to 13, written as a series of poems. The narrator is Lonnie Motion, an 11-year-old boy whose parents died four years previously in a fire and whom, having spent some time in “group home” now lives with his foster mother, Ms Edna. His teacher encourages him to “write it down before it leaves your brain” and so sets about writing a series of poems through which we learn of his feelings about the loss of his parents, his separation from his sister and the people in his life who show him love.
Woodson captures the language of a young African American boy who is determined to make sense of his world. I was struck by how well I felt I knew the other characters in the book just through their appearances in Lonnie’s poems. The warmth and optimism of the book shines through without ever feeling forced.
Surely you’re joking, Mr Feynman! by Ralph Leighton and Richard Feynman
Recommended by Dan Abramson, headteacher of King’s College London mathematics school
This is a collection of stories about Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. It’s all about how he got into physics and the fun he had doing it. Some stories are more serious – he was involved in developing the nuclear bomb – but a lot are about how he played with concepts and was always open to new ideas. The book challenges the sense that there’s a canon of material one must learn to master the subject – it’s about mindset, creativity and fun. It’s accessible to 15- to 16-year-olds who are interested in physics.
full list of recommendations via Top authors pick a children’s book for Christmas | Education | The Guardian.