We encourage our students to enjoy a wide range of literature, learning to read for pure enjoyment as well as knowledge. We believe that children’s literature ranks amongst the best in the world.
|Mrs Hayter - Literacy & Oracy Lead|
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The average reading age needed to access a GCSE paper on average is 15 years and 8 months. According to recent studies, the percentage of students achieving this reading age by the time they get to 15 is 50% of students with lower percentages for those who are boys and those who receive Free School Meals (FSM).
As a school, one our two key priorities this year are prioritising disciplinary literacy across the curriculum ensure that students in each subject can read, write and communicate effectively and providing targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject with a focus on Tier 3 vocabulary so that students can develop secure knowledge of the specialised and technical vocabulary needed to access the curriculum.
Immerse and Imagine
Our aim is to cultivate a strong passion for reading that extends beyond the classroom. To achieve this goal, we have carefully designed a research-driven reading programme that will engage your child with three captivating books each academic year. These books, thoughtfully selected for their compelling content, diverse themes, and literary significance, will be explored during dedicated tutor time sessions.
In Year 7, students will read the following three books:
- Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari, following a girl called Mira who is experiencing grief for the first time, discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her.
- Freedom by Catherine Johnson telling the story of a slave boy, Nat, shipped to England from a Jamaican plantation in 1783, offering an important perspective to one of the darkest episodes in British history.
- The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson exploring OCD where a boy called Matthew must turn into a detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy's disappearance.
In Year 8, students will read the following three books:
- Pig-heart Boy by Malorie Blackman about a thirteen-year-old boy who desperately needs a new heart and, if agreed, will take part in a radical and controversial procedure involving the transplant of a pig's heart into his human body.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry set in a society which at first appears to be utopian but is revealed to be dystopian where society also lacks any colour, climate, terrain, and a true sense of equality
- Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird about twelve-year-old Omar and his brothers and sisters who were born and raised in the beautiful and bustling city of Bosra, Syria but before long, bombs are falling, people are dying, and Omar and his family have no choice but to flee their home with only what they can carry.
In Year 9, students will read the following three books:
- The Outsiders by Susan Hinton detailing the conflict between two rival gangs divided by their socioeconomic status: the working-class "Greasers" and the upper-class "Socs" (short for Socials)
- Across the Barricades by Joan Lingard about two young people, Kevin and Sadie who just want to be together, but it's not that simple in Belfast where the city is divided and no Catholic boy and Protestant girl can go out together
- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai who was taught to stand up for her beliefs, fought for her right to an education and, on 9 October 2012, she nearly paid the ultimate price for her courage when she was shot on her way home from school
Our intentions with this programme are as follows:
- Widen Horizons: By exposing students to a variety of genres, authors, and themes, we intend to expand their literary horizons and encourage them to explore beyond their comfort zones.
- Model Fluent Reading: Students will have the unique opportunity to observe adult readers in action, which will greatly enhance their understanding of what constitutes fluent reading.
- Support Comprehension: Engaging discussions will boost students' comprehension skills, encouraging them to approach texts critically and discerningly, considering themes, characters, and contexts.
- Develop Vocabulary and Knowledge: Exposure to a diverse array of literature will enrich students' vocabulary and broaden their knowledge of authors, genres, and books they might not have encountered otherwise.
- Foster Positive Attitudes: The shared joy of reading experiences will naturally foster a sense of community and delight, laying the groundwork for exceptionally positive attitudes towards reading.
The Adult-Led Reading Programme seamlessly integrates into our tutor time, involving approximately 15 minutes of dedicated time up to four times a week. These sessions will provide an invaluable opportunity for students to fully engage with the text, spark invigorating discussions, and benefit from the expertise of our tutors in reading.
Top 100 books voted by teachers. Enjoy!
Top 100 books to read before you leave secondary school, as voted by teachers.
1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
6. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
8. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
12. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
14. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
17. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18. A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
19. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien
20. Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
21. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
24. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
25. A Passage to India by EM Forster
26. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
27. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
28. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
29. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
30. Holes by Louis Sachar
31. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
32. The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman
33. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
34. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
35. Atonement by Ian McEwan
36. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
37. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
38. Dracula by Bram Stoker
39. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
40. A Room With a View by EM Forster / 40. Beloved by Toni Morrison
42. Wonder by RJ Palacio
43. Emma by Jane Austen
44. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
45. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngoxi Adichie
46. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
47. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
48. The Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
49. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
50. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
51. Anita and Me by Meera Syal
52. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
53. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
54. Skellig by David Almond
55. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
56. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
57. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
58. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
59. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
60. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
61. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
62. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
63. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
64. Dubliners by James Joyce
65. Face by Benjamin Zephaniah
66. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
67. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
68. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
69. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
70. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
71. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
72. I am David by Anne Holm
73. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
74. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
75. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
76. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
77. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin
78. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
79. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
80. Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
81. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
82. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
83. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
84. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
85. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
86. A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
87. Heroes by Robert Cormier
88. Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
89. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
90. Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
91. Forever by Judy Blume
92. Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin
93. Stone Cold by Robert Swindells
94. A Time to Dance by Bernard MacLaverty
95. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
96. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
97. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
98. The Tracy Beaker series by Jacqueline Wilson
99. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
100. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Strategies to foster / encourage reading
So you have a reluctant reader...?
Reading for pleasure is possibly the single-most important activity your child can do to improve achievement in school. Research has shown that reading helps cognitive development; a recent IoE study revealed that students who read at home do ‘significantly better’ across the curriculum – including 9.9% better in maths – than students who don’t read. Linked to this is the fact that reading is the best way to improve vocabulary, essential for success in every subject.
Reading also has social and emotional benefits. It increases self-esteem and studies show that students who read are more empathetic. Growing up is tough — reading can help young people explore complex problems from the safe fictional world of a book.
The problem, of course, is convincing young people of the importance and joy of reading. As the parent of five teens/young adults, I understand how difficult this can be in a world of electronic distractions. Here are some tactics I have used with my children and students:
- Find books with a connection to something they love. If they are football fans, look for footie fiction for teens – try Booked by Kwame Alexander; Football School Star Players by Bellos; or Dan Freedman or Tom Palmer’s books. If they like military/action/war, then try the Dog Tag series by CA London or Andy McNab’s teen books. If they like to watch Youtubers, try Zoella’s book club. And if they are into gaming, try fast-paced chapter books or ‘choose your own adventure’ stories. (Tip: try teen/YA author Alex Scarrow’s books – he was a professional video-game developer before he turned to writing; or Jeff Norton’s MetaWars series, billed as ‘a video game you can read’).
- Look at our ‘Recommended Reads’ list: we have lists broken down by genre for Years 6/7; Years 7/8; and for Key Stage 4. We also have lists to suit particular interests; if your child likes animals, for example, ask for our new ‘animal fiction’ booklist with books to suit all ages. Other booklists include ideas for those that enjoy ‘visual’ books; a list for Percy Jackson fans; dystopian fiction; tear jerkers; difficult issues and thrillers.
- Any type of reading is helpful, so try graphic novels. Graphic novel versions of The Recruit by Muchamore, Silverfin by Higson and Stormbreaker by Horowitz are popular. Likewise, it is absolutely fine to read Wimpy Kid books if this is what sparks the interest of your reluctant reader.
- Try Barrington Stoke books: these are produced with tinted pages, special fonts and spacing, thicker paper and editing to reduce comprehension barriers and/or issues resulting from dyslexia. https://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/
- Visit the library with your child when you go into town. Ask your child to meet you in the library and then take your time selecting a book to read yourself.
- Try a ‘phone free’ hour. Eventually (out of boredom) he/she might started exploring books
- Be enthusiastic about what they are reading: Ask them to describe a character or to read aloud an exciting bit. You might read a teen/YA book yourself; the plot-driven nature of many of these books means they are relatively easy reads – perfect after a day at work.
- Let your children see you reading for pleasure, and talk about what you read and how you choose books.
- If you have younger children, ask your older (reluctant reader) child to read aloud to them. This is a big confidence booster and it helps with sibling bonding. Michael Morpurgo is a particularly good shared read, as his books have something for everyone; I highly recommend Kensuke’s Kingdom for sibling read-alouds.
- Offer incentives: Summer reading rewards programme for children works really well. For example, if they read a certain number of books or pages, you could take them to a theme park. Whilst we don’t want our children to only read for rewards, but it works for summers or for times when a ‘breakthrough’ is necessary.
- Another idea is to find the book version of a movie: Stormbreaker, Eragon, Harry Potter, The Book Thief, I am Number Four, The Princess Diaries, The Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Fault in Our Stars, Twilight and Inkheart and Wonder are all films based on children/YA books. Both of you can read the book, go to the movie together — then discuss the differences.
- Have them pick up a device – an e-reader! Then check with your local library about borrowing e-books or try the Kindle daily deal.
- Try audio books: Libraries have free, downloadable audio books plus Audible has a wide range of teen books. Many teens like the idea of being able to do something active while listening to a book. By listening to an audio book, your teen will pick up new vocabulary, hear complex sentence structures and engage with stories.
- Listening to audio books as a family is another good idea. Sharing a story together is a fabulous way to bond; Stop the Train by McCaugrean and Mort by Terry Pratchett are good places to start.
- Visit a bookstore and allow your child to select a book of their choice. The visually appealing marketing and layout of best-selling books can attract even reluctant readers.
- Try biographies/autobiographies that interest your child. Recent student favourites have been Maddie Diaries by Ziegler & The Greatest (Muhammed Ali) by Walter Dean Myers.
- Non-fiction books linked to a child’s interests are a great way to spark a desire to read.
- Gentle encouragement works best.
Reading takes many forms, and sometimes it is enjoyable to listen to a story being read. Websites we recommend for this are:
Whether you want to learn about WW2, photography or politics, there’s a podcast for everyone. The average podcaster listens to 5 different shows per week. It is free, mobile and flexible. We recommend the following to get you started: