fb-pixel Books and Authors of the Week - Mill Hill Schools


Books and Authors of the Week

Books of the Week

This week, the Junior Librarians have chosen books from the Year 2 Adventure Reading Road Map programme. This Year 2 programme is a reading for pleasure initiative, aimed at broadening children’s horizons. All the titles on each map (apart from the Classics genre) have been published in the last twelve months and no author has more than one title on the map. We believe that the best way to increase literacy levels is through reading for pleasure and having a strong reading culture across the school. Research by the Open University found that the children in schools who participate in the Road Maps read a wider range of books and discuss reading with their peers more than they would before.

This reading for pleasure initiative has been endorsed by the Open University, whose research has shown the important role reading for pleasure plays in a child’s development. In England, reading for pleasure in schools is receiving increasing attention in both policy and practice.  Teachers are required by the National Curriculum (DfE, 2014) to ensure children read for pleasure, but one cannot oblige children to develop a love of reading, they need to be enticed, tempted and engaged, and build a legacy of satisfactions that will sustain them. In the current culture of testing and high accountability it is not easy to balance reading instruction and reading for pleasure. However, there is international research evidence that indicates that the will to read influences the skill and vice versa (e.g. OECD, 2002; Schugar and Dreher, 2017). Furthermore, young people who make the time to read in childhood accrue significant benefits, socially, emotionally and cognitively. Reading for pleasure is associated with a wider general knowledge, richer vocabulary and narrative writing, enhanced empathy and imagination as well as raised attainment in both literacy and numeracy in adolescence (e.g. Sullivan and Brown, 2015; McGrane et al., 2017; Senechal et al.,

Amirah from 2AM recommends The Don’t Panic Gang by Mark Sperring.

Amirah’s reason for her choice: “This is the first book that I have read by this author and I enjoyed it so  much. It is SO funny!”

Mrs Harvey would also support Amirah’s choice. The Don’t Panic Gang is a top secret organisation, comprising a doughnut-loving cat, a little blue bird and an unassuming window-box worm. When they receive an urgent call for help, the three friends immediately leap into action and, donning their superhero costumes, they transform into Sumo Cat, Ninja Bird and Kung-Fu Worm. Clambering over rooftops, leaping off buildings and scaling walls – not always successfully – the invincible trio eventually reach the distressed caller, who is at the mercy of something huge and terrifying in the bathroom.

From a literary perspective, the bright, sketchy illustrations contain a wealth of amusing detail, such as tiny superhero costumes hanging on the washing line, which will captivate and delight. ? Similarly, the changing style and size of font add another layer of meaning to the book. Why, for example,  has the author chosen to use different fonts for the differing characters? An assortment of page layouts, from small vignettes to full-page views, creates a sense of pace and urgency, swiftly moving the tale along to its entertaining conclusion. With witty text, plenty of anticipation and opportunities to predict what will happen next, this is an exciting and funny adventure, perfect to read aloud.

Amee, also from 2AM, recommends Dog Gone by Rob Biddulph.

Dog Gone a book by Rob Biddulph.

Amee’s reason for her choice: “I love this story because it is very funny – I wonder if you can guess what the Eating Machine really is …”

Mrs Harvey also endorses Amee’s choice. Rob Biddulph is a very popular author at Grimsdell and Dog Gone is his latest book. The story is about Edward Pugglesworth the pug who is enjoying his autumnal morning walk in the park with his owner Dave when they happen upon a terrifying troll in a dingy looking shed in the woods. Rumour has it that the troll that lives there loves chasing dogs with his Eating Machine, so Dave and Edward make a run for it. When Edward loses Dave in the woods and ends up back near the scary shed, he thinks he’s done for – until the troll turns out to be not so very terrifying after all. In fact, he’s rather nice, and not really a troll at all…

Rob Biddulph’s rhyming story about a dog walk gone wrong has a happy ending for Edward and Dave and a message about kindness and thinking the best of people. His signature bright style and background detail means there’s lots to look at and a few clues along the way as to what the Eating Machine might possibly be…

From a literary perspective, the rhyming text supports the acquisition of early literacy skills. I wrote last week about the importance of rhyme in early literacy development. Rhyming stories teach our children auditory discrimination and listening skills, phonemic awareness and the richness of language.

Recent research (Sullivan and Brown, 2015) into the development and acquisition of early literacy skills has conclusively shown that rhythm and rhyme play a hugely important role. This is because children’s early literacy skills are about listening and speaking rather than reading and writing. These first two skills are the bedrock foundation for the latter and create much stronger ability in the latter if ingrained deeply and early on. It’s simply not possible to be a good writer if you don’t first of all have a good vocabulary. Similarly, it’s very hard to learn phonics and sight words if you can’t discriminate sounds and rhyming patterns in an audible way. The research states that when comparing the literary abilities of school age children, those who had a good understanding of rhyme from an early age, vastly outperformed those who had little exposure to it before they started school.

Authors of the Week

This week, the Junior Librarians Sofia and Shaynen have chosen one of their favourite authors to share with us. Shaynen has selected the author and illustrator, Oliver Jeffers and Sofia has chosen the Rainbow Magic Fairy series. We have a wide selection from both of these authors which are on special display in the library this week.

Happy Reading

Mrs Harvey