Title: The Truth According to Arthur
Author: Tim Hopgood
Illustrator: David Tazzyman
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
An initial cursory flick through of this book when it arrived on my desk left me feeling a bit flat, and unsure how to use this in the classroom. But, hey, I’d told TES that I’d read it with the class, so I felt obliged to give it a go.
After a cup of tea and a biscuit, I remembered that all schools have to teach British values now (not that we didn’t before). A light bulb went on in my head, as I realised that this book could help me tick a box. It is sometimes difficult to approach the topic of British values as described by Ofsted as “democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith” with key stage 1 children. So, armed with The Truth According to Arthur, I prepared my SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural) session with Year 1 Hedgehog class.
I was immediately impressed by how much these small people understood. Liam explained that a fib is: “When you’re telling a story about something that isn’t true.”
This book helps children to understand the emotions involved in telling the truth. “The truth looks sad or worried,” said Brooke. And Isaac explained why people sometimes fib: “They don’t want to get told off.”
We went on to discuss what it means to bend or stretch the truth. Frankie, quite profoundly, explained: “If you ruin the truth, no one will believe you.”
While the story didn’t keep the children on the edge of their seats, it did keep the conversation flowing. “You are trying to break a rule if you stretch the truth,” said Theo. And Josie told us what people do to cover up the truth: “They make up a (new) truth.”
Of course, to this bunch of earnest five-year-olds, it seemed so obvious what Arthur should do. “Just tell the truth!” shouted Danny. The softly spoken Mia expanded: “When you tell the truth, you can sort it out.”
The class rated this story five out of 10. I think they would always choose to read a more exciting story. However, I’ve passed this book on to the SMSC coordinator with a strong recommendation to use it across the school.
The Truth According to Arthur is a useful book to have in school, and could easily be used with individual children who are struggling to tell the truth on a day-to-day basis.
Alice Edgington is deputy headteacher at St Stephen’s Infant School in Canterbury. She tweets as @aliceedgington
"If you tell fibs, then you get into a lot of trouble."
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