In-depth activities;Primary;Reviews;English;Books

12th June 1998 at 01:00
THE READ AND RESPOND SERIES Photocopiable activities based on The Mousehole Cat, Thomas and the Tinners, The Wreck of the Zanzibar, Goodnight Mister Tom. Edited by Angel Scott. Scholastic. pound;7.99 each.

Many years ago, the late Edward Blishen considered what teachers should do with books in the classroom. His conclusion was - nothing: just let the stories be read and speak for themselves. In 1972 I agreed with him. I don't now.

Some authors still don't like their books being used for activities like these in Read and Respond. A few even forbid it. I think they're wrong. We aren't talking about Pass-notes or key stage 2 PhD theses but ways of reading and understanding essential for children in these defining days of teaching literacy.

Angel Scott's series takes worthwhile contemporary children's books. There are three levels: beginner, dealing with notable picture books like The Mousehole Cat; intermediate, concerning short but substantial novels like the superb Thomas and the Tinners; and advanced, where novels of rewarding complexity like these by Morpurgo and Magorian are treated.

The photocopiable sheets cover effectively all those activities which carry readers deep into the heart of narratives - prediction, inference, sequencing, contextual reading cues - without skewing response against the story's grain. They give young readers insights into the strongly felt background in time and place each story possesses, yet they let the stories do what Blishen prized above all - speak for themselves even more clearly. Every narrative, simply because it comes from someone else's mind, presents a barrier to the most perceptive reader.

Children, in particular, need unobtrusive introduction to these imaginative worlds. No sensitive authors need fear that their work will be distorted.

There are valuable teacher notes on the presentation of each story and best ways to use the photocopiable sheets so they need never become mere worksheets.

Dennis Hamley

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now