Sheffield Children's Book Award 2008 Winners

A new display was gone up this week at the Bannerdale Centre, where Reading Matters is based, about the Sheffield Children's Book Award. It made me realise the winner had already been announced. The overall winner is Beware! Killer Tomatoes by Jeremy Strong, but there are lots of others in different categories.

I have to admit the only one I have actually read is The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, which is fantastic. Anyone else read any of the winners?

Classics on your console

How's this for a way to promote reading with the computer games generation; Nintendo have cartridge for their handheld DS machine called the 100 Classic Book Collection. It's 14.99 on Amazon, that's 15p per book. Some of the titles might prove a bit tough; Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, but others might just hit the button (that's a bad pun); Wilkie Collins, Lewis Carroll, Conan Doyle, Jack London, Anna Sewell, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Worth a look.


Books to read over Christmas

A nice article on the npr website about books to read over the Christmas period, which as well as some recommendations of books to read includes some advice on how to overcome any apprehension about reading aloud:

"But some parents feel self-conscious when they read aloud, says Judy Freeman, the author of a guide to read-aloud books called Books Kids Will Sit Still For. Freeman says they should get over their inhibitions.

"Your kids don't know the difference. They just want to be warm, and they want to hear your voice, and they associate the words with you," she says. "It turns them into readers. If you want your kids to read, you have to read to them."

Reading aloud to kids is a good idea no matter what time of year, says Freeman, but the holidays can be an incentive to get started."

Good stuff.


BBC Front Row Christmas Books

There are lots of lists of Christmas books around at the moment, but I caught the programme on Radio 4 earlier in the week and the Front Row selection seems particulay good. The recommended books for 8 to 14 year-olds are:

Illustrated books
  • The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams with illustrations by Quentin Blake
  • Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman
  • The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart illustrated by Carson Ellis
A poetic book
  • Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

For older readers

  • Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
  • Airman by Eoin Colfer
  • Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards
  • Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
  • Jackdaw Summer by David Almond
  • Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Non Fiction Books
  • Spyology by Dugald Steer
  • Take Me Back by Various

Many of these are included in my Recommended Reading list via Amazon.

Names and faces

I have had a great week, but a testing one with lots of new names and faces!

On Monday and Wednesday (8 and 10 December 08) I delivered my first Training for Reading Matters Volunteer Mentors (as I mentioned before when offering a few resource suggestions), with the very able assistance of Paul Woods from the Reading Matters Dearne Valley project.

I hope all those that attended will agree, but I thought it went really well. It was a very nice relaxed atmosphere, which meant the very impressive turn out everyone could and did contributed. Inevitably the bits that worked best, were those where the volunteers worked together on the reading exercises, and this with this in mind I am sure we can do a bit more to spice up the other 'talky' bits next time round. It was such an inspiring bunch of people with so much enthusiasm and creativity, I have now been energised to get all there school placements sorted out, so I won't go in to much detail, and although I threatened to take a few photos we were so focused on the training I didn't get round to it.

Following on from the training yesterday (11 December 08), I was at head office for our staff day. It was the first time I had met many of the other Reading Matters staff, so this was great. We got the opportunity to talk about the positive future that Reading Matters seems to have lined up, and eat a few mince pies!


Getting Linking 1: Some online resources for Reading Mentors

[Update: I have gathered all posts like together under the title Getting Linking]

I have my first volunteer training session this week, so I thought I would gather together some of the resources I have come across recently. I hope they will be of use, and is a good example of what this blog is all about.

Ed Helper
An strong American bias, but some excellent customisable resources to print-out.

Stories from the web Stories and other resources on a books/stories/reading theme.

My Child Large range of useful printable resources.

BBC RaW First chapters of a range of well selected books (also games and other resources).

Drop everything and read Downloadable, printable activity sheets and more.

The DFC Online comic site with games and other resources.

Harper Collins - Children's Some nicely presented printables based on children's books.

Penny Arcade Comics based on computer games.

First Choice Books Tool for finding book recommendations.

Teachers Domain Site aimed at American teachers, but some resources may be of use.

Purpose Games Mainly geographical based online games. Quirkles Some fun reading material on a science theme.

Anorak Magazine Community based magazine with lots online with a reading theme.

Poetry Archive Poems organised by author and subject, can be print or audio.

New Fairy Tales Downloadable fairy stories.

Etymonline Find the origins of words.

Helium Community submitted articles, on a range of subjects.

Barnaby Bear Some downloadable resources, mainly on a geographical theme.

Parents Choice Various Resources aimed at parents.

Owl at Purdue Some quite technical info about grammar, punctuation and the like.


Fun at Seven Hills School

I've been visiting Seven Hills School a lot recently, which is great because it is such a fun and welcoming place.

Volunteer Reading Mentoring

As I mentioned previously, I have been covering for an existing volunteer, for a few weeks this term. It is my first experience of actual hands-on reading sessions. I may have been lucky with the pupils I have been reading with, and I am sure the previous volunteer has been very good, but the two pupils I have been reading with have be great.

I have only done a few sessions, but we seem to have fitted in a lot of activities. We have used fun sheets, games and resources from Reading Matters, but I am really pleased that the most successful thing has been reading books. One of the pupils really liked dogs, so we started with The Dog Top Trumps then moved on to Dog (DK Eyewitness Books). The other pupil is in to football and fishing and I have to recommend Starting Fishing (Usborne First Skills) which has a super range of picture, illustrations and different lengths of texts. Thanks to the Sheffield Schools Library Service for these, all Reading Matters Volunteers can access all the services the Schools Library Service, it is a super resource and the staff are really helpful and skilled a finding that perfect book. They are based in the Bannerdale Centre along with Reading Matters (Sheffield and Rotherham) so do call in.

Community reading morning

As well as the reading sessions, I was very pleased to be asked along to a reading morning at Seven Hills School. I partnered a pupils who's parents couldn't make it, and along with a room full of parents, carers, grandparents and members of the community, we took part in all sorts of activities based around reading. Expertly lead by Sophie (apologies for not catching her second name) we learnt how to do paired reading, played games, got sticky and glittery with some craft materials, and got even sticker making rice crispie cakes. All sneaky ways to engage young people in reading. Everyone got a lot out of it, not least a free book for each adult and child, but mainly an enthusiasm for reading together.

Seven Hills School staff are so on-the-ball with literacy activities that bring in people from the community to really support and develop the pupils. It is an inspiration, and I am sure Reading Matters will continue to support them as much as we can.

The Times Christmas Books 2008

My second post in a row about the Times, but I thought you might be interested in their The Times Christmas Books 2008. Top of the list is Frank Cottrell Boyce's Cosmic, which is great choice.