COMPREHENSION SUCCESS BOOKS 1, 2, 3, 4. By James Driver. Oxford University Press pound;5 each Teacher's Book pound;10.
It's a long time since I read a comprehension scheme and burst out laughing with pure enjoyment. Many such schemes over the years have been laughable, but that is different. If only for the story about Mulla Nasreddin, Comprehension Success merits teachers' attention; but there is more going for it than that.
These four colourful books - one for each level at Key Stage 2 - are beautifully produced and contain the widest possible range of texts to satisfy the requirements of the campaign for literacy in schools. Glossaries, letters, poems, instructions, stories, information texts, biography, comic strips, advertisements, diaries - the list goes on. You name it, this scheme has examples. James Driver has chosen an eclectic and interesting mix of material, and arranged it with care so that turning each page almost becomes an adventure in itself to discover new treasures to stimulate thought.
What makes it even more attractive is the way the question pages have been devised. The 'comprehension' of the title is literally more comprehensive than is often the case. Here is someone who obviously refuses to see language in neat compartments, offering, instead, a richer, more enjoyable engagement with all aspects of English, in stark contrast to many standard uninspiring exercises.
Each page allows varied responses, from the straightforward retrieval of facts, to deeper analysis of meaning, involving both inference and deduction. An important element in these responses is the encouragement to children to write creatively in a variety of genres. A separate teacher's book, complete with answers, also supplies cross-reference to the National Literacy Project's programme.
Sandy Brownjohn is a writer and educational consultant. Her new book, Spotlight on the Victorians, will be available from Hodder and Stoughton this autumn