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  • 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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  • Love Your Library

    When Estelle Morris conducted her report into the state of school libraries for the School Libraries Commission, she asserted the central place of the library as the 'heart of the school, and reminded us that libraries and librarians promote a reading culture that supports teaching but extends beyond that to encourage reading for its own sake. It is heartening that in recent years we have witnessed many schools reinstating a school library where one had been taken out, or improving existing facilities. We have been energised by teachers' and librarians' enthusiasm for ensuring the library is not simply a room where books are...

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