English - The Mob rules

Inspire a love of reading in even the most reluctant pupils

Roger Hurn

A few months ago, a woman contacted me through my publisher. Her sons had brought home some of my Mystery Mob books and she wondered if I was the same Roger Hurn who had taught her in South London back in the 1970s. I told her I was, and that I remembered her, too.

That school wasn't the easiest place to start a teaching career. It was in a tough neighbourhood - some of the children had parents who were gangsters and, tragically, during my time there, two children were murdered by their father.

We met up for a chat about old times and she told me something that moved me very much. "We all loved how much you loved telling stories and that made us love them, too," she said. It made me proud to think that my stories had had such a positive effect, and it reminded me again how important teachers are when it comes to inspiring a love of reading in their pupils.

Everywhere I go, I see teachers bringing books and stories to life. I try to use my author visits to help them, particularly when it comes to reluctant learners, who were the inspiration for my Mystery Mob (MM) books. There are six MM characters, which makes it easy for children to find one they identify with. The MM has the kind of adventures children wish they could have themselves. Pupils have told me they imagine being part of my "mob" and make up their own stories.

Many of the children I meet are reluctant readers and, sadly, most are boys. However, recent research from the Programme for International Student Assessment (www.risingstars-uk.comdigitalreading) shows that boys have a real aptitude for digital reading. This can create a "virtuous cycle", whereby more frequent reading of digital texts leads to better reading proficiency and increased enjoyment across all formats.

To help teachers support this process, the MM books have become e-books, though they don't need to be read on e-readers. They can be copied or networked and read on any device including whiteboards, PCs, laptops or phones. My publisher, Rising Stars, and TES are offering to give a Mystery Mob (and a Magic Mates) e-book to every child in the country. I hope they enjoy my stories as much as my old pupil did.

Author Roger Hurn is a former headteacher and Home Office adviser. To receive your two free e-books (including a licence for unlimited sharing), go to bit.lyQUD3ZB


Try The Reluctant Learner, a poem about a nervous child who hopes his teacher won't single him out, shared by RogerHurn.

Alternatively, use RogerHurn's storytelling games to encourage pupils to write their own tales.


In the TES English forum, teachers share their ideas about teaching language analysis at key stage 3. Have you taught an inventive lesson that goes beyond the usual "point, evidence and explain" model? Why not share it?

Find all links and resources at www.tes.co.ukresources043

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Roger Hurn

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