Just Imagine

Blog » Nikki Gamble

  • More than Information Reading Non-Fiction for Pleasure

    A few years ago, I organised a conference at the London Institute of Education, celebrating the best of non-fiction publishing and innovative teaching with non-fiction texts. The day brought together teachers, writers and illustrators who advocated for  non-fiction as an essential part of children’s reading for pleasure repertoire, not solely reduced to a resource used mechanistically to teach research and information retrieval skills. That is  not to say that those skills are not important, but to pigeon-hole non-fiction as reading  research purposes only is reductive and does not do justice to the wealth of literature available or the ways in which readers chose to engage with it. Read more →
  • Exciting Book Introductions

    This week I have been all over the country:Manchester, Oxford, London and Essex. It was a real pleasure to revisit Lowercroft Primary School in Bury, where Viv Barlow and Dianne Ellithorn are doing sterling work to inspire young readers in their school. Just look at these brilliant artefacts made by the year 6 children as part of a homework project.

    It's always uplifting to work with teachers who are passionate about books and reading. Sometimes the book collections in school match that enthusiasm. Sometimes, it is  obvious that spending on books hasn't been a priority in recent years and there is little evidence of new authors and illustrators. Sometimes new books are limited to the most obvious choices and the range doesn't reflect the breadth and depth of books currently available. We are currently in demand helping schools reinvigorate their library collections. That's all very exciting. However, it is important that once this work is done, a plan is put in place to regularly update, refresh and maintain the collection or it will quickly stagnate and deteriorate.

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  • Wordless Wonders

    I am delighted to see a surge in publishing high quality wordless picture books, a valuable addition to classroom collections for children of all ages. Far from being an ‘easy read’ many of these books provide challenging reading experiences and provoke thoughtful responses.

       
    There are many reasons to celebrate the wordless books, not least that they can provide a level playing field for children of all levels of reading attainment. Read and discussed in a group or guided reading session, the wordless book can be accessed by all. This gives  readers for whom 'word reading' is difficult, the opportunity to engage in discussion alongside children who are skilled word readers.
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  • What's in a Word? a cautionary tale on the perils of swallowing the dictionary

    It’s five o’clock in the afternoon.  I’m in the kitchen preparing our evening meal and my three and a half year old son has been left to amuse himself for a few minutes. He’s NOT amused and after a short while he comes into the kitchen hands on hips, ‘Mummy I am affronted,’ he says. And from the look on his face I can see that he means it. I’m taken aback, distracted from his intent by his faultless use of the word ‘affronted.’ However, this display of precocious word knowledge isn’t quite so surprising when you consider that we...

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  • Reason for Rhyme

    Can you recall any lines from poems that you have read, heard and enjoyed? Perhaps you remember a rhyming story that was read to you when you were very young, a poem that you heard at school, or perhaps you studied poetry at university and some immortal lines are anchored in your memory. Before you decide that you don’t know any poetry, keep in mind voiceovers from television advertisements, song lyrics, a rap, football chant, graffiti  or a message in a greetings card.  Rather embarrassingly, I can remember line for line the sentimental doggerel in the first Valentine card that...

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