Hold the front page
In first inspection, the pupil books in The News series, with titles ranging from Endangered or Extinct! to Clues to Crime, look like many non-fiction books. There is no use of headline typefaces, and illustrations are captioned to give additional information that would not be appropriate in a true news medium.
That said, each title does include an editorial column, letters to the editor, and a question-and-answer page. The care with which they have been assembled is apparent from the teaching notes. I was impressed by the range of suggestions for shared, guided and independent reading, particularly in Changing Earth and Who Shot the Movies?
Although the emphasis is on reading development, opportunities for writing and spelling are not igored. Readers are encouraged to generalise from spelling patterns - for example, with the "or" suffix in Who Shot the Movies? The writers have ensured that there are sufficient examples: actor, director, operator, supervisor, and so on.
The materials, targeted at "middle primary years", are, in my view, pitched at Years 4 and 5. They would also provide reading development ideas for groups of able children at Year 3, and contain nothing that Year 6 would find too young.
In the indispensable Teacher Resource Book, much is made in the introductory section of activating prior knowledge, with lots of suggestions and activities that promote the ability to read, predict, clarify and question with respect to short non-fiction. This is a helpful and well thought-out resource.
Michael Thorn is deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary school, Hailsham, East Sussex