Every day is a holiday;Primary;Curriculum reviews

17th December 1999 at 00:00
FIRST FESTIVAL SERIES:Christmas Harvest. By Lois Rock. Lion pound;8.99 each

FESTIVALS THROUGH THE YEAR SERIES:Spring Summer Autumn Winter. By Anita Ganeri. Heinemann pound;9.99 each.

CELEBRATE SERIES: Christmas Diwali. By Mike Hurst. Wayland pound;9.99 each

I have heard complaints that religious education seems to consist entirely of the study of festivals (usually Diwali), but whether that criticism is justified or not, it is certainly true that festivals do offer an accessible window through which children may view the activities and beliefs of any religious group. Even a fairly superficial study of Easter, for example, brings students face to face with Christian beliefs and practices.

Through the Heinemann window, festivals are viewed season by season, giving brief glimpses of many, rather than a long look at one. So for coverage, these books offer particularly good value - 14 spring festivals alone, from St David's Day to Wesak. It makes them a bit like lengthy illustrated indexes, of course, and many sentences are cut to the bone, but the books provide a great deal of information.

Wayland's windows have pretty curtains to show off Christmas and Diwali to best effect. These are attractive books in which even the page numbers are dressed in their Sunday best, and this gives text and illustrations a vitality in keeping with the festival spirit. Christmas contains a particularly wide range of interesting and unfamiliar images.

Lion's windows are for the DIY expert. Harvest and Christmas are hands-on experiences - growing, sticking, cutting and singing festivals.

Sharp images on bright white paper make these the classroom equivalent of coffee table books, with attractive pages that entice you to browse rather than pause. If you do pause long enough to get out your scissors or saucepan, you will find some useful creative ideas within.

Paul Noble Paul Noble is head of St Andrew's primary school, Blunsdon, Wiltshire

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