I hope all of you out there are safe and well as we navigate through these strange and uncertain days.
We are now in that time of self-cocooning and doing our utmost to curtail the spread of a virus that is having unprecedented impact on our lives. The best thing you can do is (as I'm sure you've heard)...stay home. But what can you do when you're at home? How can you keep sane? Because, let's face it; isolation can make us all go a bit stir-crazy. Don't worry. The world is still out there; will still be out there when we emerge. But to help keep everyone occupied, I'm going to suggest a few books. (Again...of course.)
I was contacted by a local school here in Galway when they shut down for the interim. They asked me for a reading list to put on their blog to keep all their "little bookworms" happy and reading while at home. So I thought I would share that list with you here. These and many other fantastic reads are scattered among the pages of Fallen Star Stories, but it's useful to have a list to hand. So, here it is:
Picture Books:
Nop by Caroline Magerl (also: Maya and Cat...same author) (so wonderful!)
Bunnies on the Bus by Philip Ardagh and Ben Mantle (also The Little Adventurer books by Ardagh and Elissa Elwick)
Where Are You, Puffling by Erika McGann and Gerry Daly
What I Like Most by Mary Murphy and Zhu Cheng Liang
Molly and the Stormy Sea & Molly and the Whale by Malachy Doyle and Andrew Whitson (I love these!)
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
(and of course...Where The Wild Things Are by Sendak; Wild and The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes)
Younger Readers
Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl and Lauren O'Neill
Guardians of Magic by Chris Riddell
The Stick and Fetch books by Philip Ardagh and Elissa Elwick
The Cass and the Bubble Street Gang books by Ericka McGann
Bumpfizzle: Best on Planet Earth by Trish Forde
The Rabbit and Bear books by Julian Gough
And the rest....
Chasing Ghosts by Nicola Pierce
Hope Against Hope by Sheena Wilkinson
The House of One Hundred Clocks by AM Howell
The Last Spell Breather by Julia Pike
The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay
Begone the Raggedy Witches and The Little Grey Girl by Celine Kiernan
The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher
The Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell
The Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens
Anything by Kate DiCamillo
The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson
The Faraway Truth by Janae Marks
The House on Hoarder Hill by Kelly Ngai
The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (and of course, Rooftoppers which I still think is her best. But all of them are great!)
The Wild Folk and The Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia K Lindsteadt
The Girl Who Speaks Bear and The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
If you have those 'more mature readers' knocking about (12-13+)
Here In The Real World by Sara Pennypacker
The Pure Heart by Trudi Tweedie (CREEPY!)
The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott
The Apple Tart of Hope, A Strange Kind of Brave and anything else by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
The Wordsmith and MotherTongue by Patricia Forde
The Paper and Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie
Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham
A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill
And so many others.... I will come back to you with a YA list of books!

Any of these (and any other books!) are perfect, not just to read alone, but to share with each other. And the great gift of the internet at this time is we can share these books outside of our own little cocoons. Do you have family (particularly older members; grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins) who  you cannot spend face-to-face time with? Are your children bored and wanting to reach their friends? Maybe there are some children who are vulnerable to this infection that really need so added joy in their lives? Try setting up a video chat with friends and family members. The kids can read together! A video storytime or bookclub could really make someones' day!

Also, check online for authors reading from their own stories. While they can't get out to you, they are pulling out all the stops to keep the love and comfort of reading out there.

Another concern is getting your hands on an actual book. With the larger online services closing down shipping of all but necessary/essential items (you know who I mean), it can seem a daunting task. But right now, smaller, independent bookshops really need your support. The reality is, like all small businesses, without your help, they might not make it through. And the world would be a much sadder place without them. BUT, you can contact your favourite bookshop via email, online or even a phone call and they will be delighted to send your book out to you. Even the smaller publishers that I know have an online customer service. (And a lot of them will even ship worldwide.) Help them now! You'll be glad you did and they will really appreciate it.

I'll be back here soon with more book reviews, more isolation ideas and activities and as much information as I can manage to help you keep going while the world is standing still. Take care, stay well, keep reading and stay home. 


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