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This week, the Junior Librarian Amalia (Owl class) shares  with us one of her favourite reads. Her book of choice forms part of the Year 2 Reading Road Map collection. Amalia has read all of the books on the programme and was awarded a golden reading trophy which sits pride of place in her bedroom! 

You may recall that I wrote last week about the Year 2 Adventure Reading Road Map programme – 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., 2018).  

Amalia recommends her current favourite fiction picture book, One Hungry Dragon written by Alastair Chisholm and illustrated by Alex Willmore. 

Amalia explains her choice: “This is a really funny story which I think all Grimsdell children will enjoy!” 

STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! Here comes Bernardo … and he’s one HUNGRY dragon! This dragon is on the hunt for his lunch – is there anything that he won’t try to gobble up? A hilarious counting tale featuring lots of favourite fairy tale characters, including magical mermaids, fairy godmothers, funny frogs . . . and one very big BURP! A laugh-out-loud romp written by Alastair Chisholm, winner of Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Year, The Queen’s Knickers Award and Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug Prize. Illustrated by Alex Willmore, winner of Oscar’s Book Prize. 

Mrs Harvey has no hesitation in recommending Amalia’s choice of book. As a funny and entertaining counting story, it is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. It has a wider appeal too – the pictures are exciting and original and add depth to the text. For Key Stage 1 children, the emphasis would be on the changing fonts utilised by the author and his extensive use of onomatopoeia.  

The story is presented in a uniquely creative way – the text covers the page at differing angles, and this encourages and challenges children to read in a different way, as well as making it exciting and interactive.  It persuades the children to think about the author’s intent – why are certain sentences presented in unusual formats? Similarly, the changing style and size of font add another layer of meaning to the book. Why has the author chosen to use different fonts for the differing characters? In this story, the differing fonts mirror the personalities of the various superheroes. In this particular book there are really excellent examples of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is a literary device in which a word is used to represent a sound. Onomatopoeiahelps heighten language beyond the literal words on the page. Its sensory effect is used to create particularly vivid imagery—it is as if you are in the text itself, hearing what the author is envisaging. Onomatopoeia is a great way for young children to learn the sounds of language because it translates sounds in the world around us to text. In addition, onomatopoeia makes for great fun when reading aloud. You can experiment with tone of voice, volume levels and facial expressions as you discover new sounds.  

Happy Reading! 

Mrs Harvey