Balancing the books

I have been reading a couple of books on a literacy theme, Lost for Words by John Humphrys (Radio 4's Today programme) and Teaching Your Child to Read and Write by Valerie Douglas. Both are 'interesting' for different reasons.

I found Humphrys' book to be quite a polemic, summed up a quote from the book "I love arguing". He doesn't like linguistic rules being stretched too far, but neither does he like pedants picking up on every last error. It seems to me that the middle ground that is left is both very narrow and very hard to pin down. My confusion is perhaps down to the fact that I usually have to read each example of bad practice several times to determine what the problem might be.

Similarly Teaching Your Child to Read and Write has it's own individual perspective, written by an ex-teacher it is making the case for teachers not having the sole responsibility for a child's literacy skills. I felt that she wanted parents to both take a lead role in the development of children's reading and writing skills, but also to bow to teachers superior knowledge on the same subject. And again I was confused as to how to find the right balance.

To finish on a slightly more positive note, the Teaching Your Child to Read and Write was lent to me, by a reading mentor at Parkwood Academy, not to read cover to cover, but because there are a range of reading tests set out, that are indeed potentially really useful, so thanks Mandy.


Ideas from our Reading Mentors training

Last week we trained a new batch of Volunteer Reading Mentors, they are a great bunch, and I am busily trying to set them up with suitable places in schools to begin reading sessions. Sitting in was Melanie the Librarian from Bradfield School. She was full of great ideas for activities to use in reading partnerships.
  • Head to your local shopping centre, eg. Meadowhall and pick up a map and a catalogue shop catalogue, you can then plan a Christmas shopping expedition together

  • WOW! 366: Speedy Stories in Just 366 Words

  • The Booked Up programme should be running in most school libraries and the books included in the scheme give a good overview of what's hot in the world of children's books, the accessible book options are particularly relevant

Thanks Melanie


Choose your own adventure

I have been covering some reading sessions at Parkwood Academy, and really enjoying it. Because I will only be spending a few hours with the pupils I did not want to embark on a long story. So as well as the usual games and activities we have been reading some 'Choose you own adventure' books.

I remember the Fighting Fantasy Books which I absolutely loved when I was younger, but we have been using the slightly more accessible Full Flight 5 range, which are great too.

The children I have been reading with are really excited by them and when the die horrible deaths are keen to have another try. Great for reading partnerships.


Sheffield Bag-A-Book Day 2009

Last week, during half-term Reading Matters had a stall at the Sheffield Fostering Service Bag-A-Book Day, at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium. It was a great day, lots of fun. It was the first time Reading Matters had been involved so we were not sure how to best particpate. Because of the setting I decided on a set of football word games, but these were put to shame by all the othe activites on offer; paint-a-pot, face-paining, mask-making, urban poetry, street dance, stadium tours, story-telling and lots lots more. So next year we need to think of something really exciting, suggestions very welcome!

Rhyme and Reason Bookshop
Books at Hillsborough


Parents' Week 2009

I spotted a poster for Sheffield Parents' Week, and thought I would investigate further. I found some very useful stuff, in regards to Reading Matters and as a parent myself.

Parents' Week started today (19 October) but most of the activities and information will be useful at anytime, for example Reading Matters very own Parents and Carers as Partners.

If you are in Sheffield one of the easiest ways to get involved is the Sheffield Information Link Photo Competition, I suggest pictures of family reading sessions.
[pic credit: swan-t]


Comic Book Guy

A great post on the great blog Trapped by Monsters all about comics got me looking for some free online comics that might just engage a reluctant reader:
You would need to check the content, some comics especially graphic novels, have quite an adult theme, but I think there is going to be something here for most young people.


Author's websites

In a previous post I asked about books with a local connection and had a couple of really good suggestions, I am definitely going to check out The Voyage of the "Silver Bream" by Theresa Tomlinson and Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty. Perhaps even better they both have fantastic website's, in particular Theresa Tomlinson's has some fantastic short stories to download, including one called The Sheffield Thwitel, which is great.

This got me looking at other author's websites, starting with those recommended on the Kids' Books UK blog.

So in no particular order are some of my finds:
What do you think? Any other suggestions?


New Children's Laureate - born in Sheffield

Just a quick post in the first week back after the summer holidays. Thanks to the Sheffield Libraries webpage, I have just learnt that the new Children's Laureate, Anthony Brown, was born in Sheffield! I always thought his books had a very Yorkshire feel to them, I think it's those tanktops.


Inspired by the Welsh Valleys

Last week I was holidaying in Wales, we had a great week, but lets just say the weather was far from great.

The misty, rain soaked welsh hills really reminded me of Alan Garner's The Owl Service, which I read recently. It has inspired me to check out his other books, especially The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which I read when was younger and loved.

It also got me thinking about location specific books, a great way to connect with a book. There was a timely article in the Guardian about Beatrix Potter's links with the Lake District. More locally I recommend Malcom Rose's books especially the Traces series set in a futuristic Sheffield and The Kiss of Death about Eyam the Peak District 'plague village'.

I have set up a 'books with a local connection' reading list, it is a bit sparse, and I'd love some new ideas.


Summer Holidays (six and a half weeks!)

I have just come to the end of my first academic year with Reading Matters, and I'd love to say my head is spinning with all the exciting projects I have been involved with, but I am afraid my focus is purely on the six and a half weeks of summer holiday ahead.

My partner, Rhian, has stretched out her maternity leave, so we have the whole time off together with 10 month old Rose (who as you can see is shaping up into a keen reader herself), what a treat.
I'll be keeping an eye on things across the summer, check out my News from across the web, and I look forward to catching up with you next term.


No. 10 Petition - Make school libraries statutory

Alan Gibbons, an author we have a good relationship with due to his work with Barrington Stoke, has long been a advocate for the importance of school libraries, with his Campaign for the Book.

He has organised a petition on the 10 Downing Street website to make school libraries statutory, I urge you to sign it today

"We, the undersigned, call on Her Majesty’s Government to accept in principle that it will make school libraries, run by properly qualified staff, statutory and to prepare the necessary legislation in consultation with the appropriate professional associations and trade unions."


Getting Linking 3: More online resources

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

I think I will start a regular feature, links to online resources. With links to printable fun sheets and other ideas for reading partnerships.

I have already made a couple of posts:
I'll try and think of a good name for this new series, but in the meantime here are bunch of links for you to explore:

The Teachers Corner - Lots of great printable work sheets, and other resources

The Children's Laureate - Activity sheets based on Michael Rosen's books

Roald Dahl Day Treats - Games and activities based on the classic author's books

Timless Teachers Stuff - This site is a bit overwhelming but there are some perfect resources available

Fun Brain - Some nice ideas based around popular books, films and facts

BBC Skillswise - Downloadable sheets and online resources

RHL School Reading Comprehension - Worksheets including stories, poems, essays, and articles

British Council Print and Do - Activities with a geographical theme

Ambleweb Literacy Hour - Loads of literacy activities

Activity Village - All sorts of resources (we have used their Harry Potter games recently)

Armoured Penguin - Tools to make you own word-searches, crosswords and other word games (I love the name of this site)

Online tools
The following sites provide links to activities and games to play online

Fun with Words - Play Boggle, Hangman and other games online, lots more to explore too

BBC Bitesize KS2 - Help with spelling and grammar

East of the Web Word Games - Word games to play online

Wordnik - This is a bit different, it is a huge online dictionary, thesaurus and search engine all rolled into one, you can contribute too

VocabSushi - Play games and build your vocabulary

Have Fun


Please leave this toilet...

There have been students from local schools visiting the Bannerdale Centre where I am based to do some exams. I like to think the student who 'adapted' this sign in the toilets was once in a Reading Matters partnership, they have a clear love of words.


Summer Festivals in Sheffield and Rotherham

Reading Matters are not formally involved in these festivals, but I am sure we will be represented at some of the many excellent events taking place in Sheffield and Rotherham in the next few months.

Sheffield Children's Festival 2009
13 June to 4 July
Some things that caught my eye were the Poetry Wall at Banks Street Arts, a performance of the BFG and associated fun day at the Lyceum, and the many theatre performances by pupils from Sheffield schools.

Sheffield Young People's Film Festival

25 June to 9 July

I particularly like the look of the Dreams 2012 programme on 27 June at the Showroom Cinema.

Rotherham Children's Book Festival 2009
27 June to 4 July

I don't know where to start with this lot, so many good things; Family Fun Days across Rotherham on 27 June, Story Teller Ben Haggarty at Wickersly Library on 29 June 7.30pm-9.30pm, Shonaleigh at the Central Library on 2 July 6pm-7pm, and finish up with a Storywalk in Clifton Park on 4 July 2pm-3pm.

I can't wait.


The English Language is Dum

Edward Rondthaler was born in 1905, but as this video reveals, he has a real empathy for young people struggling to get to grips with English. I love this:


SUFC and PwC - best book forward

The title stands for Sheffield United Football Club and PricewaterhouseCoopers. I was hoping to return after my half term break to gloriously report that we are working with a Premier league club. Sadly this did quite pan out, and Sheffield United will remain in the Championship, but more importantly some of their staff and their corporate partners will be attending reading sessions at some schools close to the SUFC Academy this term, as part of their best book forward project.

We had a excellent training session at the swanky PwC offices in Sheffield, it was great to have such a diverse bunch of mentors, I am sure they will all do really well. The next step is to prepare some specific materials and get them going!


Volunteer Week at VAS and VAR a Zoo and an Art Gallery

Reading Matters work very closely with Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) and Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR), and they both have recently emailled me about about a couple of exciting projects they have organised to celebrate National Volunteers Week (1 - 7 June 2009).

Voluntery Action Sheffield - Diversity in Volunteering, a Photo Exhibition in June at the Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane, Sheffield, S1 4FW

This photographic exhibition celebrates the diversity of people who volunteer in Sheffield, many of whom have overcome real obstacles to do so. The photographs have been taken by students of photography and capture the essence of volunteering, and its impact on volunteers and the people they reach.

The exhibition is open 1 - 26 June 2009, Monday - Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm.

During National Volunteers Week, the Volunteer Centre team will be available to talk about volunteering and involving diverse volunteers. Please feel free to drop by at the following times:

  • Monday 1 - Wednesday 3 June, 2 - 4pm
  • Thursday 4 June, 4 - 6 pm
  • Friday 5 June, 10 - 12am

Voluntery Action Rotherham- Free Trip to Chester Zoo for Volunteers and Community Organisations

  • Do you give your spare time to help others?
  • Are you a volunteer or a paid worker for a Community organisation?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, then join VAR Volunteer Centre and CEDR / RCAT on a free trip to Chester Zoo, where you will also get information about Skills for Life and Train to Gain opportunities.

As they put it "stop monkeying around and join us on the 3 June 2009"!

They will be meeting at VAR at 9am prompt, and returning back for 5pm.

This trip is only for adults and limited to 44 places. Places must be booked in advance by the 27 May 2009 through the VAR on 01709 834464.

For more information then contact:
Sam Walker at CEDR, 28 Percy Street, Rotherham. 01709 722834 or e-mail

[monkey picture - Leo Avalon]



I have just been reading about Booktalk on the excellent, Write Away blog. It is not something I had heard about before, but is included in the DWSF National Strategies training and is worth exploring.

Booktalk encourages us to encourage children to talk about the books they have read. The intention is to improve their understanding and appreciation of what they have read, and develop their own writing as a result. Exploring this topic means dealing with a fair amount of jargon but there are some simple ideas underpinning the scheme; simply asking questions about what a young person has read, for example:
  • Tell me what you thought/felt about...
  • Which parts of the book stay in your mind most vividly?
  • Have you read any other books like this?
Using such methods will help a child think about what they have read, engage with it, develop ideas and hopefully appreciation and enthusiasm. I recommend the Attachments and Resources on the National Strategies page on Booktalk, the page itself is a little impenetrable.


Easter Reading

Just back to work after the Easter holidays, which were a great opportunity to catch up with some reading. I am working through a great big stack of unread novels. I am trying to alternate between 'adult' books and 'kids' books, so as well as We Need To Talk About Kevin
and The Tenderness of Wolves, I read Hoot, Piggies and, best of all, Mortal Engines.

I read Philip Reeves Here Lies Arthur a while back, and I think it is one of the best books I have read for sometime, so I was keen to check out his back catalogue and Mortal Engines did not disappoint. With the sad death of JG Ballard one of my idols, we need all the dystopias we can get, so the post-nuclear war world of the Mortal Engines Quartet is a recommended place to spend some time.

You might also be interested in Gone. I read a review in the Guardian, about how it is written as if it were a video game, ie. perfect those reluctant boys. I also recall the trailer for the book, done as if it were a film. Well for the multimedia hat-trick you can read the whole book online for free, you need to be quick - it is only available until 22 April 2009.


Volunteers Meeting 1 April 2009 (no joke)

We had our termly Volunteer Reading Mentor Meeting yesterday (April Fools Day!) at the Quadrant, in a different format to last time we had a single meeting for Sheffield and Rotherham volunteers, which I think worked well.

We watched the Reading Matters video, which many volunteers had not seen, despite it being quite old now, I gave a quick overview of the Inspire Rotherham project and the materials that are resulting, for example some Rotherham United themed Fun Sheets but the star of the show was Rebecca Fisher a long term volunteer at St Bernard's School. Rebecca gave a short but very informative presentation on how she had carefully adapted her reading sessions to meet the very particular needs of her pupil partners. You kind of had to be there, but you can get the gist of hew work from her presentation:
Reading Matters R Fisher Presentation 1 April 20009
One of the key things to arise from Rebecca's presentation and from other Volunteer Reading Mentors is the quality and appropriateness of the Activity Sheets Reading Matters uses. This is food for thought for me, we need to do some work on the hard copies of the sheets we have, in the meantime I would refer you to some of the sheets I have mentioned before on this blog here and here.


Inspire Rotherham Activity

It has been quite a couple of weeks, there has been an awful lot of activity relating to the new Inspire Rotherham Project. We have followed up the training and visit to Maltby Manor school with the Rotherham United players with visits to Maltby Crags and Maltby Redwood schools, there are slideshows below.

In the middle of these visits the Inspire Rotherham project was officially launched, see some pictures online. Reading Matters had stall in All Saints Square on 21st March. It was good to be involved, we weren't selling much, just telling people about Reading Matters and sharing the word sheets we had prepared for the partnership with RUFC. It was also the first time our new range of Read Up trading cards got a public outing, all the RUFC players we trained have a card with a mixture of football and reading skills and a few facts. They were hugely popular, and we gave out pretty much our entire stock.

As well as all this we have been running a number of partnerships as part of the Inspire Rotherham pilot in Maltby:
RUFC at Maltby Crags Infant School

RUFC at Matby Readwood School


My presentation - volunteers and the social web

I am currently undertaking a course at Voluntary Action Sheffield, a NOCN Level 3 award in Managing Volunteers, as part of this I am giving a presentation about using web services such as this blog to keep in touch with volunteers. Here are my notes from the presentation, with links to other examples and ideas: volunteers and the social web volunteers and the social web Richard Hanks


Offer for Reading Connects schools

If you work for a school that is a member of Reading Connects you can save £150 on Reading Matters Reading Leaders courses for Key Stage 4/5 students.

Students will be provided with the skills, confidence and resources to mentor younger pupils and achieve an accredited qualification, valuable life skills and volunteering experience as part of the process.

If you book a Reading Leaders training programme before March 31st 2009, the cost of the course for a maximum of 15 participants with this discount will be £750. A saving of £150 on the normal cost.

Book your Reading Leaders course by emailing us at info@readingmatters.org.uk or by calling us on 01274 692219 and quoting NLT/RM.


Rotherham United players visit Maltby Manor Primary School

The players from Rotherham United, trained by Reading Matters, visited their first school, Maltby Manor, on Thursday (12/3/09). They read with six pupils each in a series of reading partnerships. The last sessions parents of the pupils sat in as well.

It was a huge success. The pupils were brilliantly excited, not only about meeting the players, but also about their choice of books. The players were excellent too. I think some were a bit nervous, especially when the parents joined them, but they all took it in their stride and really got stuck in. There was a lovely sound of concentrated reading in the school hall, library and corridors as the players and their partners focused on their books.

As one of the first key activities under the Inspire Rotherham banners the visit created quite a buzz. There were all sorts of people there including Paul Douglas (RUFC Chief Operating Officer) , Joyce Thacker (RMBC Strategic Director Children and Young People's Services) and Ruth Adams (Yorkshire Forward). The press were also in attendance and the day was captured nicely by a report on Look North, look out for the Reading Matters worksheets, which I hope to be able to share online soon!


World Book Day £1 Books

On World Book Day last Thursday 5 March, Reading Matters staff were busy training Rotherham United players to be Reading Mentors, but lots of activities were going on elsewhere for people to get involved with and many are still taking place.

I have just been sent a set of the World Book Day £1 Books, they would be perfect for our reading mentors to use with their partners. My favourite is Mr Gum and the Hound of Lamonic Bibber by Andy Stanton it is absolutely hilarious and I will be checking out other Mr Gum books. The Mr Gum website has had an upgrade for world book day and is well worth checking out.


Training Rotherham United!

We have just completed two days of training with Rotherham United, safe to say I wasn't giving them tips on playing the offside trap, rather they are going to be Reading Matters Reading Mentors as part of the Inspire Rotherham project. It is exciting stuff, and yesterday, 5 March, was especially fun because it was World Book Day.

Next week the players begin attending schools in Maltby as part of the pilot for Inspire Rotherham. We anticipate extending this to other schools in Rotherham after the official launch of Inspire Rotherham on Saturday 21st March.

Reading Matters and Rotherham United will be working together for the launch in Rotherham town centre and at Don Valley Stadium where they will be playing against Chesterfield. We are planing all sorts of activities and resources to engage people to read, should be fun.

We have got a bit of coverage in the press, and hopefully there will be more to come. We were in The Rotherham Advertiser on Friday 6 March and you can read articles in The Star, Press Association and Rotherham Web online.


Sustainable Communities Act

Sheffield County Council are inviting proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act.

"This allows councils, after taking advice from local people, to put forward proposals for government action that will help local communities to be more sustainable and offer better quality of life."

You might consider a reading based proposal, what about some reading focused schools in Sheffield, as Michael Rosen has been promoting recently. Reading Matters would love to be involved in a project along these lines.

I cannot see a similar scheme in Rotherham, but a Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Panel is in place who you could contact.


Half Term Cartoons

If you have tried emailing or phoning me recently you will know I am way for half-term. I have been using my time wisely, yesterday we visited the hub in Sleaford to have a mooch round and check out the How Manga Took Over the World exhibition. It was very good much of material was produced in the UK including a lot by Tado based right here in Sheffield, most of it was very visual but with a good section on Manga Shakespeare which looked excellent, a dude in Macbeth had four arms!

As a quick follow-up I spotted this wonderful Monster Alphabet by Joey Ellis, the pdf version presents each letter on a page, perfect for printing out and using.


Why Reading Matters

We are a few days into Reading Week on BBC4. The items I have seen so far have been excellent, and it is worth tuning in if only to catch the repeats of the Picture Book series which I loved.

Michael Rosen presented a programme called Just Read, where he converted a nice normal school into a real reading factory, he didn't mention this when I met Michael a few weeks ago, must have been under an embargo! I don't watch a lot of these sorts of programmes, a few weeks ago I did see Gordon Ramsey use a record number of expletives to renovate a local Sheffield eatery. Michael Rosen's programme was in contrast, a joy to watch. The school staff were very receptive to ideas and parents and children really got stuck in, creating a real community of readers. We obviously don't have the dramatic time-period or celebrity drive, but Reading Matters is very much about instituting the sort of changes Michael was advocating.

Last night was a programme called Why Reading Matters (great title!) This was a scientific insight into how and why we read. The main message for me was that reading is not a 'hard-wired' instinctive behaviour, but one we must all must learn for ourselves. For me this indicated why we must let no child struggle with their reading, and in fact because our brains actually physically grow as we read you could argue a non-reading child's development will be severely inhibited.

[picture credit - kennymatic]


Getting Linking 2: Printable worksheets and other resources

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

A little while ago I posted a list of some websites to use when thinking about activities to do with reading partners, well I have some more to share with you. These are mainly websites where you can print-off fun-sheets to use in reading sessions.

Time for Kids - The US based magazine has a wealth of worksheets, quizzes and more to print and use, organised by theme so you can find something of interest to your reading partner.

A to Z Teacher Stuff - Thousands of resources including tools to create your own worksheets such as word searches and word shapes (similar to the Wellington Square, trampoline exercise Reading Matters uses in it's training).

School Express - Even more worksheets, including some you can customise yourself.

Speakaboos - A small collection of very nicely presented worksheets, aimed at younger children, that can be used with videos that can be played online.

SEN Teacher - Printables - A good collection of worksheets and activities including some you can customise yourself.

Kid Printables - Lots of ads but use the menu to kind games and worksheets.

Get Worksheets - Loads of reading based worksheets, to access all the sheets a membership fee is needed.

[photo credit - Gaetan Lee]

Letter to Reading Matters Volunteers in Sheffield and Rotherham

I've recently written to all our volunteers with some news about future plans for our termly newsletter and new staff, you can read the letter online. but the main thing is that the Volunteer meeting for scheduled for 12 February 2009 has been postponed until after half term (March/April 2009).


The Guardian's 1000 novels everyone 'should' read

I bought every edition of The Guardian newspaper last week, to see which are the 1000 novels I must read. It was of course a very interesting list, but I found it a little depressing. Very few people will have read anywhere near all of the books listed, and I think a better title might have been 1000 novels everyone should read.

It did make me think of the readers we partner in schools, and I know these supplements are not aimed at them, but this list is so far from their frame-of-reference. I look forward to the edition that lists the 1000 novels under 200 pages, with some funky illustrations and in a nice big font.

For what it is worth, the section that contained the most novels I had actually read was the Science Fiction and Fantasy section. This says much about my fourteen year-old self and the amount of free time I had at that age. To celebrate here is a picture of Alex from a Clockwork Orange, still my fancy dress outfit of choice.


Michael Rosen's underpants

A good day today. I placed a new volunteer at All Saints school and I think she is going to fit in really well. I had a meeting at Fir Vale school with lots of interesting ideas for community reading projects. But (and no disrespect to All Saints or Fir Vale) the winner is Newfield school, where I was invited to celebrate the opening of their new building to see the wonderful Michael Rosen perform. Louise the Librarian at Newfield had organised the day had got a great audience together; Newfield students and hangers-on like me, but the the room was mainly full of children from local primary schools who got so much out of their visit, and I bet a lot of them are looking forward to their seconadry education a whole lot more after today.
Michael Rosen is such as personable guy, no one could take their eyes off him. Having said that, my favourite bit was a story which included some underpants that ended up on a ceiling light, and as Michael pointed at the ceiling half the children looked up and I am sure many of them saw the underpants! There was no great theme or message to the performance just a lot of super stories and poems and confirmation that we are all writers to some degree. Plus I got my book signed, actually 4-mont old Rose got her book signed!

I might be breaking some copyrights here, but I wanted to share the poem that we all performed together, I think it's great and helps reaffirm why I do what I do at Reading Matters.

Words Are Ours by Michael Rosen

In the beginning was the word
and the word is ours

The names of places,
the names of flowers,
the names of names,
words are ours.

Page turners
for early learners

How to boil an egg
or mend a leg

Words are ours

Love hearts

Sports reports
Short retorts

Jam-jar labels

Words are ours

Following the instructions
for furniture constructions

Ancient mythologies
Online anthologies

Who she wrote for
Who to vote for

Joke collections
Results of elections

Words are ours

The tale’s got you gripped
Have you learned your script?

The method of an experiment
Ingredients for merriment

W8n 4ur txt
Re: whts nxt

Print media

Words are ours

Subtitles on TV
Details on your CV

Book of great speeches
Guide to the best beaches

Looking for chapters
on velociraptors

Words are ours

The mystery of history
The history of mystery

The views of news
The news of views

Words to explain
the words for pain.

Doing geography

What to do in pay-phones
Goodbyes on gravestones

Words are ours

from www.readingforlife.org.uk


Snow in Silverdale

Today, in a minor stow storm, I visited the new Silverdale school in Bents Green. I was visiting with the first volunteer whom I have seen through the whole process myself, from recruitment, training and now placing in the school. The school staff were very welcoming and helpful, it was a very satisfying experience. Silverdale is yet another school in Sheffield with great new building. The upgrade in location also seems to be a catalyst for a new way of working, the building has numerous 'break-out' areas for groups of students to meet and work. Perfect for Reading Matters reading sessions. This change is also born out in the school staff attitude to Reading Matters volunteers, we discussed working along side student Reading Leaders and staff as a really well-organised team of reading champions.

So there is lots happening and there is lots to plan, but it is exciting times at snowy Silverdale.


Would you like to work for Reading Matters in Sheffield and Rotherham?

Just a quick post to draw you attention to a vacancy for a senior field worker for Reading Matters in Sheffield and Rotherham. You would be working along side me, Richard, with an emphasis on training and supporting our network of community volunteers.
  • Hours of work: 3 hours per week, school term only (39 weeks a year)
  • Leave: 4 weeks per annum (to be taken in school holidays)
  • Salary: £5,651 p.a. (£10.11 per hour) Closing date: Monday 26 January 2009

See the Reading Matters website for more information and to download an application pack.


Books without words

I visited King Edward VII (lower) school earlier in the week. A bit of new year sickness and general busyness meant I didn't meet everyone involved with Reading Matters at the school, but we have a great reading programme there, with lots of potential for future work.

I have a lot of meeting in libraries and I am always getting distracted by the materials on offer. The library at King Edward's was especially good, it even had a nice little veranda for outdoor reading; it was way too cold when I visited, but in the summer it will be a perfect spot for
Reading Matters sessions.

I even got a bit of homework; to find a particular book that tells a story without any text. I am not sure I have exactly the right one, but Flotsam by David Wisner looks pretty good. Books that do not use words might seem like an odd choice for a organisation that is all about reading, but they are a perfect way to get reluctant partners familiar with books, to use their imagination and not be intimidated by text. A good idea for an early Reading Matters session. Flotsam seems to be pitched just right and although it is a 'picture book' I don't think it will be viewed as being 'to young'.

Whilst researching I came across a number of other books without words that might be of interest:


Christmas and new year reading

Welcome back, how is 2009 for you so far?

I hope you all had good Christmas breaks. I don't know about you, but I view all my holidays as opportunities to do a bit of extra reading (four-month-olds have different ideas about this).

This Christmas I read the following:
  • Tunnels by Roderick Gordon; Brian Williams - I think this was self-published, and whilst there are some great ideas and a good story it needed editing down to a nice short snappy novel, the sequel is over 600 pages!
  • Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah - Very gripping and gritty, and a very relevant insight into knife crime.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - This has a very comic feel in tone and presentation, but some of the ground it covers is pretty harrowing; murder, torture, violence and revenge, still a page-turner.
  • Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve - I loved this, and now want to check out his other work, it is a highly believable retelling of the Arthur story and is more about the creation of myths and stories than swash-buckling exploits.
  • Mister Roberts by Alexi Sayle - Not a children's book but despite the odd swear word it isn't going to shock any teenagers, and it is perhaps the shorter than all the books above. A story with aliens, robots, gangsters and drop-outs but with a very tender heart. Alexi Sayle was one of my heroes for his comedy in the 80s and is pretty much the same for his books in the 00s.
Now I am on to Baby-led Weaning which is far less exiting!