University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, Primary PGCE 2019-20 discussion

Books for Year 5/6

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message 1: by John-Mark (new)

John-Mark Winstanley | 9 comments If you find a treasure, list it here and include a link

message 2: by John-Mark (new)

John-Mark Winstanley | 9 comments The Invention of Hugo Cabret

An amazing story told through a combination of words and pictures - wonderful for all, particularly reluctant readers!

message 3: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Maine | 6 comments The Wanderer
This has been one of my favourite books for several years. Sophie says she loves the sea - but does she?

message 4: by Sam (new)

Sam | 3 comments Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
4.5 star
August (Auggie) is born with a facial disfigurement which makes him feel different – and, unfortunately, he is sometimes treated differently. We follow (previously home-schooled) 10-year-old Auggie’s journey of joining a school for the first time. The book explores the sometimes-hard-to-talk-about assumptions that our communities can make. It is told from Auggie’s perspective, alongside jumping to various class friends’ and family members’ points of view.

Key features:
• PSHE opportunities: kindness (“Choose Kind” movement – learning opportunities on the campaign’s website), community, acceptance, hardships, morals (“don’t judge a book by its cover”)
• Personable/endearing characters

message 5: by Iona (new)

Iona Davis | 11 comments The 1,000-year-old Boy

This book was recommended to me by a group of year six children who had read it over their summer holidays. The book is relatively long but divided up into short chapters so is perfect for children between the ages of 9-11.

The book subtly weaves in historical facts as the main protagonist, Alfie, is from the prehistoric ages. The book takes the reader on an adventure, particularly concerning your opinions towards the main character.

The book deals with a range of emotions and raises questions about immorality and whether we want to live forever. I enjoyed the fact that although it explores some adult themes, it is done in a caring and thoughtful manner and allows the reader to really think for themselves.
For me it did particularly well at dealing with some issues of bullying which connected well to the classes PSHE topic, as well as being relevant for those whom in transitioning to new secondary schools, might yearn for new friends, just as Alfie does.

message 6: by Aimee (last edited Sep 15, 2019 09:28AM) (new)

Aimee Gibson | 6 comments The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince is a tale for children, and children in adults bodies. It follows the curious little prince as he navigates the adult world from the perspective of the heart, pointing out how utterly absurd many of our practices as 'adults' are e.g the mindless pursuit of money, neglecting our friendships, always seeking external praise. This book would be perfect for year 4, 5 or 6 as it lends to quite philosophical thought (and is rather long - best read perhaps a chapter at a time a few times a week).

Admittedly this book is a classic by now and it doesn't have all of the 'crash bang whallop' suspense and excitement but the voice used relates directly to the thoughts of young minds.

message 7: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Gibson | 6 comments Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

This book is not so much a story book but an amazing resource from the School of Life to introduce children to philosophical thought and emotional intelligence. With chapter titles from 'people are unhappy, not mean' and 'learn to say what's on your mind', this book takes the great philosophical thinkers and concepts and works them into learning children (and many adults) can apply to their lives and thinking. There are also great activities to link it all back to students' lives.

Best for older students, year 5 or 6 as some of the concepts are quite complex.

Thepainterofmodernlife | 5 comments Lend Me Your Wings

I read this book because I wasn't aware of John Agard before he appeared in the English Subject Knowledge Audit. It looks like a book for younger children as it is a picture book without too many words. I do think that children of this age could enjoy the story, as long as the narrator practised beforehand. It would perhaps go with learning about parts of the body, habitats or animals' basic needs lower down the school. However, when I read it I found the text (a poem) quite complex as the syntax varies from standards English and there are lots of literary devices used. So, if I were to use this in class I would do it with KS2 children who could analyse the language.

I didn't love this book as I found it a little hard to read accurately (for example because certain indefinite articles are missed out) but I think I would grow to enjoy it more with increasing familiarity.

message 9: by Iona (new)

Iona Davis | 11 comments Once
My year 6 class were reading this as a class book as part of their current half term topic- "Why did they have to keep calm and carry on?"
This book looks at the Second World War from the eyes of the child and is narrated by a young Jewish boy, Felix, who is living in Poland during the Nazi occupation. Through having the child as the narrator, the book is able to produce and answer questions that young readers might have regarding the second world war. It therefore explores misconceptions and ideas that children might struggle to understand.
I found it interesting that the class were reading this text as so much of their topic question was focused on exploring Britain's role in the Second World War and life on the Home Front and therefore I thought it helped encourage the children to explore deeper ideas by understanding what life might be like for those children living in other countries.

message 10: by John-Mark (new)

John-Mark Winstanley | 9 comments I used to love reading this to my class Iona! SUCH a powerful text which can be accessed on so many different levels. Definitely one to add to the collection for anyone teaching upper KS2. Glad to hear you've seen what an incredible text it is too!

message 11: by Iona (new)

Iona Davis | 11 comments This week, I have been reading No fixed Address by Susin Nielsin. The book follows, Felix, a thirteen-year-old boy and his mother, as the navigate their new alternative living arrangements when they take up residence in their van. Although the book is certainly comical, the core story deals with some emotional and serious issues regarding homelessness.
As a trainee teacher, I found the book particularly interesting as it raises the dilemma that there are many things going on behind close doors in a pupil’s life and these may not always be visible or present themselves in the classroom. Felix’s friends and teacher have no idea of his new living arrangements and it isn’t until things start to full apart and unravel that it becomes apparent to Felix’s teacher that he is facing some challenging circumstances when he returns “home” every evening. An honest and subtle reminder that you may come across children, as well as other people, facing some challenging living situations that may not always obviously present themselves to you.

message 12: by Beth (new)

Beth Saunders | 6 comments This week I have been reading The Garden of Lost Secrets by A.M. Howel. This follows the story of Clara who has been sent away to Norfolk to stay with her aunt and uncle while England is at war. The year is 1916 and she now finds herself living on the grounds of a stately home of an Earl with some very exotic plants and a tangle of secrets.
I enjoyed the sense of adventure in this story and the narrative was full of intriguing twists. I would find this book was particularly useful for thinking about life during World War 1 as a large part of the story followed reaction to grief from casualties of loved ones during the time.

I would suggest this to be read to year 5/6's perhaps around rememberence day and encouraging thoughtful reactions to the emotive writing in the narrative.

message 13: by Katie (new)

Katie Hayhurst | 2 comments This week I've read 'Little Bits of Sky' by S.E. Durrant. It's a lovely story about Ira and her younger brother Zac, growing up in the care system during the Margaret Thatcher years. The narrative begins when they move into Skilly children’s home, and ends when they move out a number of years later, having found a family. It shows the necessity of a strong, caring system to support and look after children whose parents cannot do so, set in a time when public sector organisations, of many kinds, were under attack.

Ira feels a powerful connection to nature; the garden at Skilly is the first place she truly feels happy and peaceful. The outdoor world allows her to escape her worries and responsibilities and to be free.

To me, these are the most moving quotes from the book:

Ira demonstrates the caring role she has for her brother- ‘The only person he [Zac] trusts is me, so I can never let him down. He’s my responsibility.’

Ira describes one of the older residents, Jimmy, who returns after running away- ‘He’s got a wall up in front of him now […]. I don’t think he’ll stay for long. I think he’s just pretending to be here. I think he’s gone already.’

message 14: by Maisie (new)

Maisie Giblenn | 8 comments The Garden of Lost Secrets
This week I have been reading 'The Garden of Lost Secrets'. This is a lovely story of a girl who get s sent to stay with her relatives in Suffolk due to the war. But, when Carla is there, she finds there are many secrets she feels the need to solve. This book is great a keeping you gripped until the end with mystery after mystery. I would say, this book is best suitable for upper KS2 children as there are some sensitive issues, such as death and injury. Also, this book would be great to read as a class alongside a World War topic as it gives some really good insights into what life would have been like in the First World War. I would definitely recommend this book to my student's next year!

message 15: by Victoria (last edited Apr 23, 2020 01:28AM) (new)

Victoria Evans | 5 comments Running on Empty
This week I have been reading Running on Empty by SE Durrant. I really enjoyed reading this book, it is a good length and each chapter is split up into different sections with headings denoting new ideas/events, making it easily accessible and navigable to readers from Years 4-6. AJ, the main character, lives with his parents who both have learning disabilities and his grandad helps to keep things running smoothly around the house. Early on in the story AJ's Grandad sadly dies, leaving AJ finding himself in a few tricky situations trying to juggle things around the house and finances whilst trying to hide this from everyone else the outside world. AJ is an avid runner and dreams big: he wants to run professionally having been totally mesmerised by the 2012 Olympic Games and inspired to take after his Grandad. This story follows AJ's life, his desire to train and the barriers he hits on his journey as a result of finding himself a young carer.

Although this book doesn't delve too deeply into the complex topic of being a young carer and living with parents with disabilities, it is at times very poignant and would no doubt be eye-opening to some pupils to see the challenges that some face, as well as being relatable to others who find themselves in a similarly complex situation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think it would appeal to many students and it will definitely be going in my book recommendations book for next year!

message 16: by Emma (last edited May 19, 2020 05:06AM) (new)

Emma | 6 comments Sky Dancer
This week I have been reading Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis and I would absolutely recommend it. It is about a young boy, Joe, who lives in the British countryside and has grown up with a family that helps to keep the moors full of grouse for grouse shooting season. The story opens at his father's funeral, and the reader can sense that the protagonist has some unresolved feelings about his father and the things he did when he was alive, particularly with how he treated some of the wildlife on the moors...

Throughout the book, Joe meets some new friends and finds himself in situations that question everything he thought he believed about the moors, or at least what he had been told to believe about the moors. The book deals with the conflict between remaining loyal to your loved ones and having the strength to form your own opinions and beliefs about the world. However, despite this, it also highlights that no one in this world can live completely independently and that it is okay to depend on others and allow others to depend on you.

This could be good to read alongside topics relating to wildlife, particularly things like Rainforests, as the book touches on methods used to protect wildlife in the Amazon and how similar methods can be used on the moors.

message 17: by Mahdiya (new)

Mahdiya | 5 comments The Boy At the Back of the Class

This book was an absolute joy to read! The book brings to light the current refugee crisis through the lens of an innocent, young girl and her friends. With a mysterious new boy in school, who sits at the back of the class but disappears at the end of each lesson, 4 young friends attempt to find out what mystery lies behind young Ahmet. In an attempt to find answers to their questions about Ahmet, you see the blossoming of friendship which is anchored by genuine loyalty, care and love for one another.

Though the 4 young friends venture on some extreme (and fairly humorous) trips with the sole aim of helping their new friend Ahmet, there are many lessons to be learnt through the voice of the young speaker... both for adults and children reading the book. Most importantly, what you're reminded of is that as humans, we are born as blank slates. We have a genuine desire to care for one another and build relationships. We don't judge or discriminate, rather it is society which teaches us to do this. This is particularly evident through the young characters and their reactions to some of society's judgements and perceptions of refugee's.

It is definitely a book I would recommend to my students and also even adults!

message 18: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 5 comments This week I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This is a story is about Bod (Nobody Owens) who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts after all of his family is murdered. The book is recommended for 8-11 year olds however due to the description surrounding the murder and the difficult vocabulary I would say it needs to be for Year 6s. Each chapter is like a short story covering Bod's life up to the age of 15.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend everyone on the course to read it. However, due to the nature of the story it I may not recommend it directly maybe just amongst a reading list and allow parents to make the decision whether or not their child can read it. The Graveyard Book

message 19: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Delaney | 1 comments This week I read Wonder by R J Palacio. Wonder is a heartwarming tale of a young boy, named August, who was born with severe facial dis-figuration as he embarks on his first year in middle school. I really enjoyed reading this book as it was told from several different viewpoints of August's family and friends which allows the reader to better understand all of the characters. It also offers up a lot of opportunities for discussions around important themes such as, how quickly and inaccurately we judge others as well as the importance of kindness and friendship.

I think that this is an important story to read for both children and adults, I particularly found it interesting to read how the teachers were portrayed in the book (especially the headteacher).Wonder

message 20: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Evans | 5 comments Holes
Over the weekend I finally got around to reading Holes by Lewis Sachar, which I neglected to read when I was younger - I'm so sad that I didn't as I imagine I would have enjoyed it as a child.
Although I was initially dubious about the storyline: a boy is wrongly accused of stealing and sent to a correctional camp in Texas where they are to spend each day digging a hole in the blistering heat searching for something. As the story unfolds Sachar cleverly weaves in multiple storylines from the past and present which go hand in hand to reveal the purpose for their digging. Sachar's clever writing made these come together so nicely in the last quarter of the book. I quickly became gripped and read the whole book in the afternoon sun - I would say this book would be good for a Y4/5/6 audience and is a brilliant story (some reviews call it 'farfetched'... but its fiction, it's allowed to be!) which many would enjoy. I think a younger audience may risk getting confused with the changes between past/present and not make the nuanced links between the two which may impede comprehension.

message 21: by Aimee (last edited Apr 27, 2020 03:21AM) (new)

Aimee Gibson | 6 comments The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Wow. I read this book all in one sitting and was not prepared for the journey it took me on. From adoption to biodiversity, AI sentience to parenting this book covers so many themes (it’s also kind of like a wholesome version of Blade Runner). There is a strong emphasis on nature and what it means to be wild, contrasted with the hi-tech human world. It also hits the core of those deeper, soul-searching questions of purpose and what it means to be human. I would pitch this book at years 5/6 because there is some death, and deeper undertones which may be missed by younger years. It could be tied into a multitude of lessons; science with food chains, environmental conservation, emotions and plenty of PSHE talking points.

In short, it’s fab, go read it.

message 22: by Tara (new)

Tara Cross | 2 comments This book is amazing! Appropriate for Year 4+
Marinka lives with her Grandma Baba Yaga in their unusual house with chicken legs that can get up and travel elsewhere at any time! This is exciting for Marinka but has now made her realise all she wants is for it to stay put so she can begin to live a normal life. All she wants is a normal life but unfortunately she is not destined to live one. This beautifully written story weaves folklore with captivating thrills of Marinka's quest full of twists and turns. Marinka is an unforgettable protagonist who you are sure to love and root for throughout her ventures. The unveiling of truths however Marinka react unexpectedly which sometimes makes you want to give Marinka a good shake! It is gripping from the start and full of emotions, adventures, twists and turns!
I would also highly recommend 'The girl who speaks bear' by Sophie Anderson too.The House with Chicken Legs

Thepainterofmodernlife | 5 comments Five Children and It

This is a fun book to read. I chose it because it's a classic; I knew nothing about E. Nesbit before reading this and I wanted to fill a gap in my knowledge. I've certainly got a feel for what she was like as an author, both from the biographical foreword and the story itself. The voice of the narrator is playful and addresses the audience directly, which would make it a great book for reading aloud.

Class novels that I have heard of people reading in relation to the topic of the Victorians (such as "Street Child" by Berlie Doherty) are most often historical fiction. Although this story was actually first published in 1902, it would be a good alternative to these. It gives a contemporary picture of late-Victorian/early Edwardian childhood, and upper KS2 children could critically address features such as the narrator's sometimes outlandish claims, the importance of moral education and changing gender roles.

The fact that each chapter or pair of chapters tells its own short story is convenient for working through the book (if a child missed a chapter, it would be unlikely to matter much), and pupils would have fun writing their own adventures, which could be collected together to make a book similar to "Five Children and it". If a class were read this book, the children could go away and read the sequel ("The Story of the Amulet"), or Jacqueline Wilson's contemporary adaptation "Four Children and It", at home if the school had them available to borrow.

message 24: by Kathryn-Anne (new)

Kathryn-Anne | 6 comments No Fixed Address
This book is all about a 13-year-old boy, Felix who lives with his mother and pet gerbil who loves to memorise facts and trivia. He keeps it a secret that his family are currently living in a van. Felix has just started at a new school and tries to hide his home life from his friends. He goes for an audition on his favourite trivia game show to win the cash prize and allow them to stop living in a van. This is a great book for any child who is interested in trivia. Explains well the issues some people have at home, the perceived role of social services and the fears surrounding that. It has good modelling of what you should do if you think your friend is in trouble and also explains some of what it is like to move to a new school. Shows the importance of community to not let people slip through the cracks in society with humour and heartbreak combined! A well written book which keeps you hooked until the end!

message 25: by Kathryn-Anne (new)

Kathryn-Anne | 6 comments A Pocketful of Stars
This is a great book for Year 5/6 who are interested in magic, gaming and friendship. It switches from living through the personal trauma of a mother in a coma, and a magical set of memories in Kuwait. Saff (the main character) is caught between the gaming world and friendship and family troubles. A great book for those struggling with self-confidence, bullying, growing up, or family trauma. Deals with issues surrounding health in a sensitive and personal way. Keeps the sense of childhood magic throughout with great descriptions of surroundings and a child's imagination.

message 26: by Emma (new)

Emma | 6 comments The Explorer

This week I have been reading 'The Explorer' by Katherine Rundell. This was a wonderful read, filled with adventure, suspense and friendship. The book is about four children who are stranded in the Amazon jungle after their plane crashes. Terrified, but determined to survive, they battle their way through the jungle and find all manner of creatures, and other things, along the way.

This book deals with a range of themes that can be thoroughly explored, such as fear (particularly a fear of failure), nature and family/friendship. It also touches on the unhealthy impact mankind has on our planet, which is important to note! While the themes with in this text can be quite profound at some points, Rundell does a terrific job of tackling them in a comforting and uplifting way, through her warm use of language and character. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book.

message 27: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Anker | 1 comments Running on Empty
This book is from the perspective of a boy whose parents have learning difficulties. I found this book to be really beneficial for me as a teacher, as it gave me an insight into some of the stresses and challenges of life as a young carer and showed me what I could do to help support any pupils who are young carers. This book may be particularly suitable for pupils who are young carers or who have suffered a bereavement, as the issue of grief is also central. A moving read that deals with a lot of big issues. This book requires sensitive judgement when recommending it to pupils.

message 28: by K (new)

K | 8 comments Wonder
This week I've been reading wonder. I saw it being used so effectively to encourage in-depth discussions about emotions, bullying and anxiety in a Year 6 class and thought I would spend the time reading it more closely. I am so glad I did.

It really feels like you travel through the book with August who deals with many situations he is faced with, with such maturity - far beyond his years. August has been home-schooled up until we meet him in the book, when he is about to start attending a whole new school. He is nervous about starting not because it's big or that he might not like the lessons but because he is worried what people will think of him. You feel the emotion along with August as he starts school for the first time and learns how to deal with the looks and comments made by people who haven't yet taken the chance to get to know him yet...

I couldn't recommend this book enough to those who haven't read it yet.

message 29: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 5 comments Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

This weeks book was the Auggie & Me. I read Wonder a while ago and was really happy to find out there was more! This book is an addition to the popular book Wonder, it doesn’t add any more time onto Auggie’s story (we do not see how he does in 6th grade) and it is not a prequel- but it shares the story of 5th grade from three more characters point of views-Julian (the mean one), Christopher (Auggie’s oldest friend) and Charlotte (one of his assigned buddies).

I loved this book, the extra point of views were very interesting especially Julians since he was bullying Auggie. It has great links to PSHE and if the children enjoyed the first one they will enjoy this one.

Both books show how one story/situation can have many sides.

I would definitely recommend this one and would read younger children (Year 4) as a class book.

message 30: by Iona (new)

Iona Davis | 11 comments Boy 87
This week, I have been reading Boy 87 by Ele Fountatin. The story is set in an unnamed village and follows the journey of Shif, a young boy, and his friend who try to flee the armed services and a desert prison. The book cleverly starts with a flash forward, gripping the reader in, before winding back to where Shif’s journey initially started.

Although short, the book tells a powerful real-life story about friendship, hope and survival in the most unthinkable circumstances. It is a poignant reminder that there are many children out there having to flee their home and leave behind loved ones; many of them will be similar ages to the children in my future classrooms and some may even have travelled from countries where conflicts were a reality.

I can imagine this book would be more suitable to older readers, particularly if you wished to have an in-depth conversation about the real life experiences the story draws upon and the realities of what life might be like for a refugee.

message 31: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Burton | 5 comments The Girl with Space in Her Heart The Girl with Space in Her Heart by Lara Williamson

This book is just wonderful. Lara Williamson’s writing is beautiful, every single sentence has been perfectly crafted and could easily be used as an exemplar of a multitude of grammatical structures and great ideas. Every single character is written so well, with so much depth and likeability. This book would be perfect for year 6 and above as it explores prominent issues such as worrying and anxiety. I have already bought another book by Lara Williamson to read next because her writing was so captivating!

message 32: by Kathryn-Anne (new)

Kathryn-Anne | 6 comments This book truly was unputdownable! Set in 18th Century France it tells the story of what happens to one of the ugly stepsisters when Cinderella left. Isabelle is brave but not beautiful- all she wants is to be pretty. Sounds cheesy, but this story is anything but. It challenges conceptions of beauty, and what it means to be a woman. It is full of particular perceptions of who the ugly stepsisters seem to be, and challenges who they really are. Each character is thought through, with no idea what is going to happen next. Unknown to Isabelle, two figures are fighting over the map of her life; Fate and Chance. Who will win?

This would be a brilliant class book for year 6. Quite dark in parts, but entincing in descriptions and short in chapter length. It is the kind of book you could do a class topic on, challenging conceptions of truly grim storytales. There are some real moral truths found and challenged in this book! Would recommend anyone gives it a read!Stepsister

message 33: by Kathryn-Anne (new)

Kathryn-Anne | 6 comments John-Mark wrote: "If you find a treasure, list it here and include a link"

message 34: by Beth (new)

Beth Saunders | 6 comments The Skylarks’ War

This week I have been reading The Skylark’s War by Hilary Mckay.
The Skylark’s War is a beautifully written story of the torments of wartime Britain during World War 1. We follow the life of Clarry Penrose and her brother Peter growing up during the early 20th century with their cold father after losing their mother. Spending their summers in Cornwall at their Grandmother and Grandfather’s home was a highlight of both their childhoods not only because of the beautiful waves, the wildlife and the fresh smells of home but Cornwall was where their cousin was, Rupert.
This book deals with some difficult themes such as grief and warfare. The vivid and carefully thought out descriptions of the front line are harrowing, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the life of the soldiers but also the hardships of the home front away from loved ones.
Appropriate for older KS2 children due to the vivid descriptions of injury and the themes of loss and war. Would be a very good book to read around Armistice day and remembrance.

message 35: by Sari (new)

Sari | 2 comments Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot

When the Terrible Yoot takes hold of Aubrey's father, Aubrey begins his journey to help his father, asking, "How do you solve a problem that won’t be solved in the normal ways?" Humorously weaving in Greek philosophy, Clare explores the topic of depression and encourages children and adults alike to question their relationship with Monsters and to not lose their sense of wonder for the natural world. While at times the messages are less subtle, this book can be used to discuss mental health and wellbeing in a safe and respectful space. (Suitable for later KS2.)

message 36: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Evans | 5 comments No Ballet Shoes in Syria

This week I read No Ballet Shoes in Syria. I think this is a fantastic book and I was hooked into it very early on. It tells the story of Aya, a Syrian Refugee and talented ballet dancer and their struggle to Seek Asylum in England. A renowned ballet teacher spots her talent and helps Aya and her family both with their cause and with Aya's dancing future. The story parallels her current life in Manchester alongside her journey from Allepo across Europe with her memories of their journey and her past slowly unfolding as the story goes on. I think it is beautifully written, and the afterword makes it clear the caution that was taken by the author to write this book in a sensitive way, bringing to life key issues that are happening in the current world in an accessible way to children and it is clearly well researched. This particular book has a happy ending for Aya (hopefully not a spoiler!) and this helps to balance the tricky ideas and emotions explored by the book. I think this is a must-read book in the Y6 classroom and it should be used to encourage discussion and the key themes explored: notably the stigma attached to the words "refugee" and "Asylum Seeker".

Thepainterofmodernlife | 5 comments A Monster Calls

This book was introduced to me in an English education lecture and then sat in my to-read pile for quite a while because, after hearing the beginning of the book, I just wasn't sure what to expect from it. When I did read it, I loved it! It's a book about pain and suffering and complicated human emotions, but it isn't dark for the sake of being dark. It's about the power of nature and the power of stories.

I'd recommend it to Upper Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 children, although it may be appropriate for slightly younger children if they're dealing with similar issues to the characters in the book (the main character's mum has cancer). In school, it could support discussions in PSHE around grief and bullying. It could also be used as a prompt for creative writing, and especially story-writing, in English. Exploring the illustrations that go alongside the text could lead children to produce some great multi-modal and cross-curricular work.

message 38: by Henrietta (new)

Henrietta | 5 comments Waiting for Anya

This book is suitable for KS2 and a good book to focus a unit of work on. This book could be used in English to discuss the techniques the author uses to grab the readers’ attention, for a grammar lesson or used cross-curricular for history.

message 39: by Emma (last edited May 19, 2020 05:03AM) (new)

Emma | 6 comments The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day

I have just finished reading The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge, and somehow I am struggling to explain how simultaneously happy and sad this book has made me feel- but I see that as a sign of a good book!

The book follows Maisie Day, who is having two very different birthdays in two very different lives. In one life, she wakes up and her parents are downstairs making breakfast, getting ready for her birthday party. In another life, she wakes up and the house is completely empty and outside is just blackness. The book alternates between these different lives as Maisie tries to find her way back to her family.

As I started this book I was definitely very confused, but that kind of beginning could generate very interesting discussions about questions we need to ask to understand what is happening, and if there are some questions that simply do not need to be answered. This book does refer to very complex scientific discoveries and theories that I personally do not know much about, which could make the book quite confusing, however I think Edge does it in a way that explains them in very simple terms to access the story. It also just helps you to realise that there is an awful lot about the universe even scientists do not know.

As the book continued, I began to realise that familial love, and life and death are big themes within this book. There are some big plot twists, which were certainly enough to bring a tear or two to my eye. If you get the chance, please read this book.

message 40: by Anelka (new)

Anelka | 6 comments I, Cosmo

This week I have read I, Cosmo. A wonderful book written from the perspective of a dog which shows loyalty, love and friendship from the beginning. Cosmo began a big brother to Max and he protects max every day and always tries to make him happy. Cosmo can sometimes get up to no good, but he knows Max will always be his friend. With their household becoming very gloomy after mum and dad start arguing, Max’s uncle tries to find Max a hobby with Cosmo. Max enters himself and Cosmo into a dance show. There is just one problem, Cosmo is starting to get old, he has arthritis and struggles to move, but he insists on support Max and making sure he is happy. But do they win the amazing prize?
Max is determined to try and make his household a happy place again by entering the show and showing the family how much fun, they used to have. He is dreading the thought of his parents getting a divorce and this show could change their lives.

If you are an animal lover this book is perfect, it has been written from a dog’s perspectives in a very witty way! I was hooked right from the beginning and had many laughs whilst reading.

message 41: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Burton | 5 comments Can You See Me? Can You See Me? by Libby Scott
This book is just fantastic, I recommend this book to all teachers (and everyone else) as it provides such a valuable insight into the thoughts and feelings of an autistic child. The chapters are dispersed with diary snippets written by Libby Scott in which she outlines key facts about aspects of autism such as stimming and so on. This book really takes you on an emotional rollercoaster as you follow Tally through the ups and downs of autistic life. It would be a great text to explore in year 6 and beyond.

message 42: by Connie (new)

Connie Gellatly | 3 comments I have read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo twice now and absolutely loved every word.
Edward is a china rabbit gifted to a young girl by her Grandmother but is passed through a variety of owners, each who have an individual story and emotional connection to Edward. You'll experience a range of emotions reading this!
I can't wait to read this to a class of my own one day.

message 43: by Beth (last edited May 12, 2020 02:55AM) (new)

Beth Saunders | 6 comments Friend or Foe

This week I have been reading Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo. It is a short story about evacuees during World War Two. David and Tucky are children living in London during the war, but soon later they are sent to live in Devon, where the war felt very far away, but the war soon comes closer than they think. I really enjoyed this short story as I really felt that it explored moral issues in a very sensitive and considerate way. We are often taught in lessons about the British side of the war and it can be a tricky concept for children to understand that German families also lost a considerable number of sons, husbands and other loved ones. This really is a very carefully written dialogue and one to teach in regard to topic-based learning of the war to ensure children understand the war from different viewpoints.

message 44: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Evans | 5 comments Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights
This week I have been reading "Malala: my story of standing up for girls' rights", an autobiography by Malala Yousafzai recounting an abridged version of the events which shaped her life and led to her winning the Nobel Peace Prize, International Peace Prizes and becoming a powerful voice for children across the globe. She talks of her early life living in Pakistan and the challenges she and her female classmates faced with going to school. She talks of how the Taliban changed life as she knew it in her country and her courage to speak out against them, giving her strong beliefs a voice. This version of her story is written for aged 7-9 and I think it would be good from Year 3/4 (use judgement) and upwards as it tackles some really challenging, but powerful messages throughout. It is her inspiring story showing courage, the importance of having a voice for what you believe in as well as providing an important insight into what life is like in other parts of the world. Many pupils might have heard her name, but not her story of how a child just a similar age to them took such a courageous stand for what she believed so strongly in. It is written specifically for a young audience so is well explained, with information pages as well as glossary and timeline making it very accessible.

Thepainterofmodernlife | 5 comments Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot

This is a magnificent book and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish in one sitting. It's the kind of book that makes it abundantly clear why reading makes children (and adults) better writers: full of metaphors, similes, rich vocabulary and imaginative adventures. It doesn't shy away from deep and difficult subjects, so it could be a useful read for a child who's struggling to understand their own feelings or those of the people around them. It's a heart-warming reminder of our place in the natural world and I look forward to reading the sequel.

message 46: by Anelka (new)

Anelka | 6 comments A lovely book from start to finish, showing friendship, laughter and companionship. I really enjoyed this book and would suggest for year 4/5/6.

Whilst most children are fast asleep at midnight, children in the midnight gang are not! They are waiting to begin their adventure for the night…..

A young lad called Tom is taken into hospital after being hit on the head by a cricket ball, tom is at boarding school, so his horrible headmaster had to bring him to hospital. Tom had to be kept at the hospital overnight and was sent to the children’s ward where he met some other children. Each of the children had something wrong and had been in hospital for longer than Tom. That night just as Tom thought everyone was going to sleep, something began to happen….the matron was fast asleep and the children all began to climb out of bed…all except poor Sally who was too ill to leave her bed. The children all left the ward, but Tom wanted to find out where they were going so he followed. That night Tom found out what the midnight gang was all about.

The midnight gang bought happiness and friendship to the children in the hospital. This was a lovely read, I enjoyed it a lot!

The Midnight Gang

message 47: by Maisie (new)

Maisie Giblenn | 8 comments Wonder
This week I have been reading ‘Wonder’. I have been meaning to read this book for a long time, after all the good reviews and the number of recommendations it gets. I have to say, I definitely was not disappointed. This is a beautiful story of a boy called August, who has some facial disfigurements, going to middle school for the first time. This book follows the different perspectives of the characters throughout the story and fantastically shows how bravery and kindness should be at the forefront of everyone’s actions. I would say this book is suitable for KS2 children, as they will be able to explore and understand the issues in this story and hopefully learn from it. I would definitely love to have this as a class book in my classroom next year, or recommend it to one of my pupils.

message 48: by Mahdiya (new)

Mahdiya | 5 comments Once
The book follows the story of a young Jewish boy who has escaped an orphanage with the hopes of finding his parents - what starts as a quest to merely be reunited with them, turns out to be a quest to save his parents from Nazi brutality. It is a heart-breaking story which ignites so many feelings and thoughts.

At the beginning of the book, you start from Felix's naive and oblivious understanding of the world outside his orphanage under Nazi rule. Felix's naivety is almost comical at times but, simultaneously, absolutely heart-wrenching. Though the impact Nazi-rule had on many lives during WW2 is studied in schools, no facts and figures can evoke the feelings this story creates as you almost experience just a glimpse of what it might have felt like for a young Jewish child of this time.

What helps Felix in his journey and, those who join his journey like young Zelda, are his imaginative stories. The book almost tells a story within a story - Gleitzman shows the power of story-telling for young children as it acts almost as a coping mechanism when going through struggling times

message 49: by Emma (last edited May 19, 2020 02:59AM) (new)

Emma | 6 comments Malamander

This week I have been reading 'The Malamander' by Thomas Taylor, and this is, yet again, a book that I enjoyed very much. The book follows Herbert Lemon, the Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, who has the very important job of returning lost things to their rightful owners. That is until a lost girl comes looking for his expertise. Violet Parma's parents went missing twelve years ago and she needs Herbert's help to find them. They soon realise that her parents' disappearance could have something to do with the legendary sea monster that terrorises the town of Eerie-on-Sea.

The book captures mystery as a genre very well and creates many moments of suspense through the secretive atmosphere and a chilling setting. Taylor successfully holds the reader by releasing information very slowly throughout the text and just when you think you know every thing, another secret is unlocked. The genre of folk-legends and their general features could also be explored as a sub-genre. This was a very exciting read and I would think it would be suitable for children throughout Key Stage 2. This book also comes with a sequel that I cannot wait to get my hands on!

message 50: by Katie (new)

Katie Sheldrick | 1 comments The Explorer

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book so much, the adventures of these child explorers in the Amazon rainforest is so well written. The feelings of these children as soon as they realise they have a very little chance of being able to escape the rainforest is so realistic and heart-felt, I really started to feel for the children. They however prove that they are more than capable of finding a life for themselves with their new environment and even highlights that for the main character Fred , this experience is a dream come true. I would recommend this book as a class text despite being 400 pages long, I believe there is so such to take from this book and would really recommend this text to anyone.

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