The Reading Game. Devised by Brenda Conn. Carel Press. Price: Game pack pound;29.95 + VAT.
The Reading Game could be just what teachers of reluctant readers have been waiting for. The package contains brightly coloured cards denoting different "zones" of books and photocopiable "reading game maps" for pupils. The teacher selects eight zones and four suitable books for each. Pupils, working in small groups, start at one zone and then have 10 minutes to read, discuss and decide upon the best book cover, blurb and start. When the whistle blows they have to down books and race onto the next zone.
The best things about this game are that it is fast, noisy and fun. It can be useful for teaching pupils about the division of books into different genres and encouraging them to try ones they wouldn't normally consider. It makes pupils aware of the influence of the cover and blurb in their reading choices. However, as pupils will have about one minute to make a decision on each book, this game could end up reinforcing rather than challenging reading prejudices.
Shakespeare For All: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar. Barrie Wade, Maggie Oates and John Sheppard. Questions Publishing. Price: pound;7.50 eachpound;30 for 5.
This series is unusual among Shakespeare class books in that it contains no complete text of the play. The aim is to make the Bard accessible to as wide a range of pupils as possible through an emphasis on dramatic performance. This approach, argue the authors, gives young people the opportunity to realise a more physical and enjoyable learning experience than could be afforded through reading the text alone.
These books contain summaries and background details from which even teachers may glean something new. The wide range of suggested activities can include the least able while stretching the most able. Pupils will enjoy the clean layout, amusing illustrations and space for notes. However, this must not be viewed as a regular textbook and thought must be given to the order of work and the integration of the text.
Joanna Williams is an English teacher in Kent.