20th April 2001 at 01:00
ADVENTURES IN LITERACY. Start Writing. About Things I Do. About People and Places. Adventure Stories. Amazing Stories. By Pie Corbett, Penny King and Ruth Thompson. Belitha Press pound;4.99 each. Teacher's Resource Book pound;14.99.

All too often children faced with a writing task exclaim to their teacher "I don't know where to begin". This series provides a plethora of stimulating starting points which will motivate and inspire even the most reluctant of writers.

The non-fiction texts are set out as a series of double-page spreads, with the first modelling a particular type of writing (directions, reports, instructions), and the second providing visual and textual stimuli to get the child started. The use of clear tables, lists and textboxes is a sensible and eye-catching way of letting pupils assimilate information and begin to structure their ideas.

The fiction texts offer different approaches. Adventure Stories contains colourful and detailed story-setting illustrations, which ar followed by spreads tackling story starts, characters, setting, problems and story resolution. Amazing Stories relies more on text, with a selection of short stories connected to briefer writing pointers. The writing tips at the back of the books serve as useful aide-memoires.

The Teacher's Resource Book offers a series of motivating literacy hours. Teaching points are clear and focused, while the lists of further activities provide a good platform for whole-class lessons, or the basis for quick workers or more able children to explore each unit's theme in more detail. The NLS links relate to Years 3 and 4, but this scheme would also be extremely useful in Year 2, particularly as clearly structured writing is such a cornerstone of KS1 tests.

With their clear structure, light touch and user-friendly feel, these books are good value for money and will provide a rung on the ladder to higher writing standards.

Jonny Zucker is a teacher at West Acton primary school.

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