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"That was really good fun, Miss - we thought it was going to be boring." This was a 13-year-old's evaluation of a workshop on indexing analysed in this splendid booklet.
A good index is, of course, the "key" to locating information. The findings of this careful study (which includes a survey, interviews and work with 154 key stage 2 children) will be of great help to teachers, librarians and parents as well as writers and publishers of children's information books. Teachers of secondary children will also find much of importance. If you want to get to the heat of things go straight to Chapter 8, which provides a clear summary of the 21 recommendations following the BakewellWilliams survey.
A good index is consistent, avoids passing references and subheadings and deserves a separate page or pages. Quality indexes help children to use their study time effectively and support them towards independent learning - thus meeting national curriculum and national literacy strategy requirements.
Much emphasis is now placed on electronic information retrieval. Interestingly, the authors believe that if children think in indexing terms they are likely to be able to search the web more effectively.
Margaret Mallett is visiting tutor in primary English in the education department at Goldsmiths College, London