Those lazy, hazy days of yore

25th August 2000 at 01:00
ANCIENT GREECE pound;15. ROMAN pound;20. TUDOR pound;15. VICTORIAN pound;14. WORLD WAR II pound;14. Anglia Young Books Durhams Farmhouse, Butchers Hill,Ickleton, Saffron Walden, Essex CB10 1SR Tel: 01799 531192E-mail: r.hayes@btinternet.com

The history national curriculum has the inadvertent effect of stopping many children reading about the past. "Doing the Tudors" will probably keep them from picking up a book about the civil war; "Doing the Victorians" will steer them far from stories about Admiral Lord Nelson. This makes it all the more important to bring at least some history into the literacy hour.

The idea of Anglia Young Books is to bring together, in a single pack, books for children and support materials for teachers. Typically each pack contains a long story (about 9,000 words) for pupils with a reading age of over eight; a book of three short stories for those with less fluency; a set of work cards or activity sheets and, perhaps most valued by teachers, a set of teaching plans and writing frames relted to national literacy strategy objectives.

The stories are not new and some are not very inspiring. There is reliance on over-worked period exclamations, such as "By Jupiter!" for a Roman spotting Queen Boudicca, and "You lazy scullions" for a Tudor baker. The plots are like watered-down Henry Treece histories, with much last-minute foiling of treachery and mayhem but without Treece's mastery of period detail.

Some of the work cards evince a rather desperate punning facetiousness of the kind that now seems obligatory in making history palatable for juniors. Titles such as "Top of the Pots", "Take Your Pict" and "Floydus on Foodus" have little classical dignity.

However, none of this is likely to make the packs unpopular with children. And when you add the fact that someone else has done the planning for teachers - prepared the grids to find prefixes, roots and suffixes in "consumption" in a Victorian linguistic context - then their success with adults seems likely too.


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