Practical Classroom Strategies
The project had a massive impact on my knowledge of children’s books which was previously over-reliant on Dahl! Now I’m using a range, including picture books, poetry, choose your own adventure, comedy, mystery and multicultural literature and have a large bank of books I can use and recommend.
(TaRs teacher, Birmingham).
1. Adopt an author or ten!
Focus on getting to know the work of one writer really well or even a pair. Stuck on who to choose? Are you familiar with, for example, the work of Mini Grey; Patrick Ness; Ian Whybrow; Frank Cotterell Boyce or the partnership between Jeanne Willis and Korky Paul? BookMatch in Oxford Owl offers good summaries which may help.
2. Inspirational illustrators: select your top five
Find ten picture books in school and choose the 5 you like best, then look up the creators on the web , either alone or as a class or with staff and find out about and then share your top five. Matt Tobin’s padlet will help – or try Letterpress
3. Playful poets: widen your repertoire
Set yourself the challenge of getting to know the work of a new poet each term- read their work to the children and focus on their style, themes, and voice. Many have websites and YouTube also offer audio readings to enjoy.
4. Comic capers, magazine malarkey and news
Ask children to bring favourite comics to share with you and /or visit the local newsagent to see the range. What are the most popular in your school? Check out sites which offer support for using newspapers, magazines and comics and read, share and enjoy. See Scottish Booktrust for example.
5. Take the world literature challenge
Focus on getting to know authors who include a focus on diversity and write tales set in other countries. Examine the texts in your classroom; do they reflect the diversity of the children? Explore the texts at Letterbox library.
6. Explore digital book apps
Digital books are growing in popularity. Have a look at recent award winners, such as those from Nosy Crow below. Flip Flap Safari won the 2015, Goldilocks and little bear won the 2016 UKLA Digital Book Award. Check out the criteria to help make your own choices.
7. Read award winners
Annually librarians select brilliant new books for the Carnegie (novelists) and the Kate Greenaway (illustrators) Medals are awarded in June: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk.
The shortlists of both are well worth reading, as are the shortlists for the UKLA Children’s Book Awards, chosen by teachers for teachers: https://ukla.org/awards/ukla-book-award
8. Invite your class to set you a reading challenge
Dare yourself to step outside your comfort zone and invite your class to set you a challenge – a genre, an author or a particular book that you are invited to read. You might offer challenges back too when you’ve completed yours!
9. Create an Alphabet of Authors
Try creating an A-Z of authors (or poets/picture fiction creators) as a snowball in class or in the staffroom. Start alone, then add to in pairs, groups and as a whole class. Create a wall display with visuals in a corridor.
10. Visit a brilliant bookshop
Some high street bookshops have specialist knowledge of children’s literature, but if you seek our local specialist stores or online booksellers you’ll find much more diversity. We like Norfolk children’s book centre and Just Imagine Story Centre amongst many others.