Recommended Reading

In these strange times, reading offers escapism and comfort to many. As it is no longer easy to get hold of new books we can look to the internet to support us with this. The websites listed below are my personal favourites for accessing books online. There is something for every age and most of them are available at no cost. I hope you are managing to stay safe and that this provides a little support.

Miss Williams

https://storyweaver.org.in/stories
A website containing over 20,000 stories for children to read! All texts are beautifully illustrated with translations available into different languages. Most books come with teaching points, questions and notes for parents. Highly recommended and suitable for all ages.

https://literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone/9-12/book-hopes/
A beautiful online book with contributions from more than 100 children’s writers and illustrators. This book is completely free and is an extraordinary collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures with contributions from more than 110 children’s writers and illustrators. Recommended as an independent reader for Y3-6 but contains many stories for parents to read aloud to any age.

https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page/
Oxford Owls have a good selection of their books available as free e-readers. You need to register but they can be accessed at no cost. There is a good range of fiction and non-fiction. This is mainly recommended for younger readers as they offer the same colour book bands as we use in school. Suitable for Reception – Year 3.

https://collins.co.uk/pages/big-cat-ebooks
Instructions to access more book-banded e-books. Titles range from red level up to lime level and cover fiction and non-fiction. Suitable for Reception – Year 3.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/
Amazon have a range of free books for Kindle and many more titles at less than £1. Suitable for all ages.

https://www.bl.uk/childrens-books/themes/all-activities
This website has popular book related activities. There are good ideas to encourage children to think like authors and illustrators. Suitable for all ages.

https://literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone/
A great website which includes everything from authors reading aloud their own books to texts for your child to read. Suitable for all ages.

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/have-some-fun/
This website has texts read aloud by authors, tips from illustrators and book recommendations. Suitable for all ages.

https://stories.audible.com/start-listen Suitable for all ages to listen to stories.

Submit your book talk

We would love us to all get together as an online reading community while we cannot be together as a school community. Please use this page to let us know what you have been reading recently and whether you would recommend it.

Tell us what you have been reading recently and whether you would recommend it. Also upload a photo of your book if you want to.
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Non-fiction books

Today in ERIC (Enjoying Reading In Class) Year 1 Puffins children have enjoyed choosing non-fiction books to share with a friend.

‘I have picked a dinosaur book because there scary’ Ollie
‘I have got a puppy book because I love dogs’ Taylor
‘This book is very interesting, I’m learning lots of facts’ Evelyn

Video: Topic Tuesdays

For Year 4 Robins, every Tuesday morning is , “Talking Tuesday”. We allocate time to discuss important things that are happening in the UK and around the world. Having this time to read, watch and discuss is great opportunity for an inquiring young mind that is unbiased and provides the background to stories that children might have heard about outside of school.

Last week we looked at all kinds of news including
1. A restaurant that employs robot waiters in the UK.
2. Fires that are happening in California, USA.
3. Fears and worries pupils might have coming back to school.
4. The future of “Flying Cars”

We also read our junior news leaflet. We discussed that Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer, has set up a group to tackle child food poverty in the UK.

Here is a video of it.
(Remember, reading the article at home counts as one of your three expected home readings! )

Most of us thought it was great that a celebrity was highlighting an important issue.
If you have time, why not research the following:

What should a healthy diet for a primary school child include?
Research what children need and suggest a full day’s sample menu, including quantities where possible.

Miss Knapman – There’s a boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

There’s a boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

I chose this from the year 6 library because it is by the same author as Holes. The title or the front cover didn’t really appeal to me so I thought I could use it as one of my reading challenges. As I enjoyed Holes, there was a good chance I would enjoy this book too. It is a quick and easy read about a boy finding his place in school with the help of the school counsellor and a new friend. It does have some funny parts… but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Holes.

Miss Knapman

Epilogue: The Only Girl in School

“And the winner is….drum roll please….number 314!”

Frankie, like every other former pupil, had automatically clapped her hands against her thighs as soon as Mrs Butterworth gave the signal. Some habits were hard to break, and any raffle following the boring bits of assembly had always been greeted with uncontained excitement. She looked at her ticket. 515. Not even close. The chocolate hamper had escaped her, as it had for her entire primary school life. Frankie screwed the ticket up, and catching Mrs Butterworth’s glance, took the wise decision to put it in her pocket rather than dropping it on the floor. Some habits needed to be broken to avoid unwanted attention, and Frankie was always a good learner.

Speech upon speech had led to this finale. Frankie had attended many retirement assemblies as a child at the school, and was always surprised that no one ever had a bad word to say about people. At sixteen, she was practically an adult, and with that came a healthy level of suspicion that life was not always rosy, and not everyone would be sadly missed when they stopped pacing the school corridors. When she received the invitation, she had half-expected that this would be yet another retirement – that of Mrs B, who had no hair undyed or wrinkle lifted, and was surely due for some long months travelling in a camper van or pruning roses or something – whatever old people got up to. But no, and the celebration wasn’t even for a particular person, but for the school itself. Fifty years in operation, and still going strong.

As she had been getting ready for the event and wondering if there was a dress code which would eliminate her slightly ripped but highly prized jeans, Frankie couldn’t stop her mind wandering to the memory of those first days at school. For her, there were two distinct categories: her own water-splashing and hand-holding days of Reception, and the time that she was truly the only girl in school, and Billy was the only boy. In six years though, the second memory had remained hers alone, because despite her yearning to share the heady madness of what had happened with whoever was available to share a passing interest, she just had to keep the adventure firmly in lockdown. Never once did she contemplate that she imagined what happened, because her imagination, though prone to spiral, could never have come up with anything quite so crazy. But Frankie knew that sharing too much could escalate to her lying on a couch somewhere, describing her childhood to a psychiatrist. So although she didn’t think of Spike and Billy every day, they were never too far from her thoughts – ready to be triggered by the sight of an excitable dog, or a tall thin boy with a worried face.

Now, she clapped politely for the winner of the hamper – a year five child who Frankie didn’t recognise, as a whole generation of newcomers had taken over her old stamping ground. She had been surprised that there was actually room for children in the hall, as the adults associated with the school’s history packed the room to capacity, shoulder to shoulder with barely room to extend arms for applause. Social distancing had thankfully become a phrase of the past, although sometimes Frankie longed for the space away from crowds that the brief age of lockdown allowed.
With a final speech from her former head teacher, the event drew to a close, and as the last clap of the day resounded around the hall, Frankie reflected on her contribution to the morning: reading the poem which she had written soon after lockdown, about her experience of being the only girl in school back in 2020. She had been nervous, mainly because she feared the cruel smirks of her old classmates in the audience; after all she hadn’t been given the chance to edit the piece, and the sixteen year old Frankie was not immune to the embarrassment of reading aloud her unpolished nine year old efforts. But they had been kind, and perhaps a little bit moved, judging by the nods and smiles she caught when she dared to look up. Frankie could see some of them now among the faces of the young and the old, as everyone prepared to leave. There were waves to one another, but no desperate rush to reunite – after all, she would see a few at school later on, and the rest on the social media platforms she intended to access for gossip this evening. So although she continued to scour the hall for faces of the past, picking out some of the old teachers who had left long ago for ‘pastures new’ as Mrs Butterworth would say, Frankie was not particularly eager to enter into any catch-up conversations.
And then she saw him.

He was a tall thin man, whose clear awareness of his height had caused a gradual stoop over many years, convincing him that he wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Wispy curls of amber and white hair sat on his permanently rounded shoulders, having apparently slipped over many years from the slopes of a now polished head. He was standing just over two metres away, staring over black-framed glasses at Frankie – a look she had seen from disapproving teachers on more than one occasion, but which now held no silent threat of detention, only the warmth of recognition. Billy must be sixty by now, Frankie had thought only that week, but it had never occurred to her that he would be here today.
“Billy.” It came out as a whisper, not the exclamation befitting the occasion. “Billy! Is that you?” That was better – the shock of her aging friend quickly passed as Frankie focused on his eyes – now dancing with youth. Billy approached and extended his hand, and for reasons Frankie would later question herself about, she responded with a smile and a fist. Billy laughed, a grown up deep throated chuckle, and bumped his own fist with Frankie’s. “I just knew you’d be here Frankie! I felt so proud of you standing up there, in front of everyone. I just didn’t have the nerve to do it myself!”

“ But you’re an adult Billy – I mean quite an old one now!” Frankie’s words spilled out before her brain had a chance to edit them. Familiar heat rose to her face, and she shuffled nervously. “I mean you’re not a child any more – you should feel more confident now.” Billy laughed again. “I see some things haven’t changed Frankie. You never struck me as someone who would choose her words carefully. But that’s okay. I’m sure it will happen one day! Now, have you got five minutes to tell me what you’ve been up to?”
“ Five minutes? I could probably sum it up in three! It’s been six years for me, and mainly school and stuff. But you? Well, fifty years Billy! Fifty! What’s your life been like?”
The suggestion of five minutes turned to fifteen, and as Mr Evans was keen to sweep the celebrations away, the time extended further as they walked out of school and found a bench outside the front entrance, newly installed to mark the Golden Jubilee.

There was no shortage of conversation or a single awkward pause. Billy had enjoyed his time at the school, and although not as quick to make friends as he had with Frankie, some of the friendships endured to secondary school life and beyond. He had gone to university, and although his first love had always been art, his dad had persuaded him that accountancy was a safer option and would guarantee a prosperous future. Frankie had nodded, trying not to smile as she recalled Billy’s painting of the thick-legged birds, and feeling grateful that his dad had steered him in the right direction.

“Then I married and had children of my own. Three of them – can you believe it? All grown up now of course – my youngest has just celebrated her twenty –first!” Billy’s face glowed as he spoke about his family, and his clear pride in them filled the air as he talked about their dreams and achievements. “Of course, a family’s never complete without a dog though, is it? And there have been plenty over the years. I even named one after you Frankie – I never forgot you!”
Frankie’s laughter broke through Billy’s reminiscences. “You named a dog after me? Not your first born child or anything – but your dog? Gosh, thanks Billy, I am so touched!” As his face returned to the default setting which had never been re-programmed in his lifetime, a look of worry, Billy started to apologise, but then caught the glint in Frankie’s eye, and joined her in her mischievous giggling. The sound of two overgrown children laughing together caused more than one passer-by to wonder what on earth could be so funny.
As Frankie looked up, she could see an older woman approaching them, accompanied by a small dog who was straining on his lead, his legs moving ever more rapidly and causing the woman to reluctantly break into an undignified jog. “Spike! SPIKE! Slow down!”

Billy caught sight of Frankie’s open-mouthed stare, and read her mind. “No Frankie. It’s not him. I’ve not seen our Spike since shortly after he returned my painting to you all those years ago, you know, the one that said goodbye. There have been a couple of Spikes over the years, but this one, well, he even looked like him and we couldn’t resist him when we saw him on a Facebook page, needing a home. Funny enough, it was around the time I got the invite to the celebration today. Felt like a message, but then I’ve always looked for deeper meaning that is actually there!”

The woman was at the end of her tether as well as the lead. “Bill – take him! I’ve had enough for one day – he’s been scratching at everything from the minute you left. Almost as if –“
“- he wanted to attend this thing himself!” Billy finished his wife’s theory. “Frankie, I’d like you to meet Tina – my wife, and Spike, our new, slightly mad dog!”
Tina sat down, and extended her hand to Frankie. Frankie returned the gesture and the two shook hands. “I’ve heard all about you Frankie.” Tina looked at her knowingly, and Frankie was at once happy and envious that Billy had found someone to share their secret with. Perhaps one day, she too would be able to do the same. Further conversation was put on hold as Spike jumped up to Frankie, his small but determined body circling her lap to find a comfortable position, and finally settling where he could look her in the eye, panting eagerly as he did so.
In the hour that passed, Spike barely moved in his spot, and apart from turning his head occasionally to the sound of Billy’s voice, his eyes rarely left Frankie’s face. It could well have been her imagination that as Tina shared their phone number and address for Frankie to visit and take Spike for walks, the little dog sighed contentedly. It also didn’t seem real that when Frankie looked beyond the green to the first pale colours of an emerging rainbow, Spike followed her gaze, relaxed further into her body and uttered the first high pitched bark she had heard from him.

But as Billy and Tina waved her goodbye, leaving her to contemplate just how much trouble she would be in for being late back to school, Frankie finally knew that her imagination wasn’t running out of control. Spike turned to look back at her. Anyone else might have mistaken his jaws moving for the start of a yawn or preparation for barking at the other dogs who were being walked along the path. Only Frankie would be able to read those familiar words as they came her way.

“Later, Frankie.”

Evie – Year 5 – Arsenic for Tea

Arsenic for Tea – a Murder most unladylike mystery by Robin Stevens

This is the second book in this series that I have read and I still love them.

Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are investigating another murder! This time by poison!!!!!!

I loved it. A shocking mystery story with lots of twists and turns – I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to work out puzzles/mysteries.

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Evie Yr 5

Evie – Year 5 – First Class Murder

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

This is the third book in the series and I am enjoying reading her books A LOT! My Dad has just bought me the fourth book which I will be starting later today.

It is about a murder which takes place on the Orient Express. The story was very surprising and the murderer was only found out near the end of the book. I would recommend this book to children my age.

These books even have a glossary at the end to help you understand certain words in the story because it is set a long time ago and the language can a little old fashioned.

Evie - Yr 5

Further home reading suggestions

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/have-some-fun/storybooks-and-games/

Classic children’s stories such as Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy and Owl Babies. Children can watch the stories or join in with the books as they are read aloud. Remember, there is always the option to turn your speaker off so that children can read the book by themselves. Older devices may not be able to support these storybooks.

https://monkeypen.com/pages/free-childrens-books

Free downloadable children’s books in PDF format.

https://readingeggs.co.uk/free-resources/

Fiction and non-fiction ‘Comprehension Student Workbooks’ for children in Year 2 to Year 6. Each workbook contains comprehension tasks relating to short extracts.

https://sooperbooks.com/

A collection of illustrated short stories, fairy-tales, rhymes and poems that are free to view online.

https://www.storynory.com/archives/classic-authors/

Stories and poems by classic authors such as Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. (Absolutely lovely!)

https://www.twinkl.co.uk/home-learning-hub

You can access the ‘Home Learning Hub’ part of the Twinkl site without having to register or log-in.

Age 3-5: ‘Twinkl Originals Storytime’ and ‘Share a Story’ – eBooks read aloud by teachers. Remember to pause and mute the video if you would like your child to read independently.

Age 5-7: ‘Twinkl Originals Storytime’– eBooks read aloud by teachers. ‘60-Second Reads’ – short reading comprehension tasks.

Age 7-9 and age 9-11: ‘Guided Reading’ – daily reading sessions. No printer needed as children have the option to type onto the sheet or write your answers on a piece of paper. ‘60-Second Reads’ – short reading comprehension tasks.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/school-radio/audio-stories/zh3t2sg

Online audio stories for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 primary school pupils. Stories cover a broad range of primary topics. They are grouped by theme and Key Stage and are typically about 5 minutes long. Ideal for fostering speaking and listening skills and stimulating children’s imaginations. New stories added week by week.

https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses/

Elevenses – daily audio instalments of David Walliams reading one of his books aloud at 11.00am Monday to Friday.

https://www.puffinschools.co.uk/resource-categories/videos-storytime/

A selection of videos featuring some familiar faces reading a collection of popular children’s books.

https://authorfy.com/masterclasses/

Register to find author videos, book extracts and cross-curricular schemes of work based on different children’s books. Lots of new titles along with some old favourites. Suitable for children in Key Stages 1 and 2.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDe74j1F52zQaZ2YA5xcdyOlR2yH73Rb9

Storytime with Nick; films of well-loved stories read by Nick Cannon, a trained actor, teacher and storyteller. A new story is added to the YouTube channel at 2pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. Suitable for Nursery, Reception and KS1 children.

https://www.worldbookday.com/online-masterclasses/

Inspiring films, writing tips and creative resources for aspiring authors and illustrators of all ages. Includes workshops run by the writers such as Matt Haig and Cressida Cowell.