A gamut of voices

15th September 2000 at 01:00
VOICES IN TIME: A New Windmill Book of Literary Non-Fiction. Edited by John O'Connor. Heinemann Windmills pound;6.25. FROM HERE TO THERE: A New Windmill Book of Travel Writing. Edited by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore. Heinemann Windmills pound;6.25.

A new year: nice tidy stock cupboards, nice tidy schemes of work, nice tidy students (pick any two of three), and, of course, the seasonal new initiatives from the DFEE - in the form of the revised national curriculum and literacy framework. If you are looking for short texts of varying difficulty to meet the non-fiction requirements (always a difficult area to cater for), then these collections are worth considering.

The material in Voices in Time ranges from an extract from a biography of David Beckham to Mary Seacole writing about her experiences as a nurse in the Crimea, taking in some useful printouts from texts on CD-Rom and the Internet along the way. Each text is accompanied by activities to extend understanding, while each genre-based sectio (biography, autobiography, diaries, letters and speeches) has a range of questions aimed at enhancing students' understanding of and ability to replicate the genre. A section at the end based on Nelson Mandela provides an opportunity to compare the aims and effects of different kinds of non-fiction writing.

While one could argue that the definition of "literary non-fiction" has been stretched well beyond its normal meaning, there is still a wide range of useful material here. Even more useful is the selection of texts in From Here to There, which follows a similar format of texts and activities as Voices in Time, but with the added bonus of having a much wider range of pre-1914 texts and writing from other cultures as well as an invaluable framework for "extract analysis" at the end.

Both books provide enough texts ranging from the straightforward to more challenging reads to make them useful tools for teaching throughout key stage 3 and into key stage 4.

Sarah Matthews

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