Reading Rocks

'Outside a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it's too dark to read.' Groucho Marx


Reading could just be one thing less affected by the pandemic. Below is some information to keep children reading for pleasure whether they are reading after school, isolating at home, or during class or school closure.

november 2020

It isn’t quite Christmas yet…!

I'm sure you have heard about 'Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.' This helps keep Christmas less about greed and getting and more about being together and sharing. Miss Maynes, in her blog this month (click the down arrow) is offering inspiration for the Something to Read bit. The 2019-20 blog may also offer some suggestions.

In the dark, grey, drizzly days of mid-November it can be a challenge to find motivation. The optimistic energy of September and October is beginning to wane and the Christmas break feels far away. It can be tempting (especially this year…) to jump straight into festive comforts as soon as the autumnal fun of Halloween and Bonfire Night are over. I’m trying very hard to stick to my usual rule of 1st December but with not much else to look forward to at the moment, its proving difficult! Whilst it might not quite be Christmas yet, we can at least comfort ourselves with planning, preparing and thinking about gifts we might buy our loved ones. My Christmas list usually consists of books and it brings me great joy to see a Christmas stocking full of cuboid, perfectly rectangular book shaped pressies. Books can be a wonderful Christmas stocking filler for children young and old, introducing them to new worlds, new characters and new ways of thinking. They can also be read together with family, offering an opportunity for some quality time together throughout the dark, cosy Christmas holidays when going outside isn’t so appealing. Here are some fabulous book recommendations for children that would make a lovely Christmas gift.

4-7 years

Snow Woman by David McKee

A witty story about Rupert and Kate’s snowman. Why not a snowperson they ask? A gentle non-sexist story with a wintry theme.

While You’re Sleeping by Mick Jackson

What happens at night time when we’re tucked up in our beds? Curious little minds will love this beautifully illustrated book about the people and animals who are busy whilst the rest of the world sleeps.

The Spots and the Dots by Helen Baugh

Find the similarities in others, discover that fear is often based on ignorance, and celebrate difference in this stunning picture book with artwork from award-winning illustrator Marion Deuchars.

8-11 years

Fearless Fairy Tales by Konnie Huq and James Kay

Fearless Fairy Tales is the perfect hardback gift for young readers (and older readers fed up with serving their kids the same old boring bedtime stories). From girls who won’t kiss frogs to Sleeping Brainy (who dreams of becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer), our traditional fairy tales have been given a 21st century twist.

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature – Natural History Museum

A book where the magic of Harry Potter meets the real-world experts of the world-famous Natural History Museum. Partnered with a new awe-inspiring exhibition exploring the links between JK Rowling’s magical creatures and real word wildlife that roams the earth, this book is a perfect gift for budding explorers and Harry Potter fans alike.

The Train to Impossible Places – PG Bell

When Suzy hears a strange noise in the middle of the night, she creeps downstairs to find a train roaring through her house. But this is no ordinary train. This is the magical delivery express for the Union of Impossible Places. A gripping, fast-moving and imaginative page-turner, good for reluctant readers.

You can find loads more Christmas book recommendations for children of all ages here on the Love Reading 4 Kids website.

Sophie Maynes


Click the down arrow to read Miss Maynes sharing one of the great joys of teaching (and being a parent too)

Books read to you in an adult's voice live with you all your life: I remember every book read out loud to me by a parent or a teacher. If a book makes your mum laugh or your dad cry, it shows that books and reading are important and powerful. Books can be part of a shared family language that lives on far beyond childhood.

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate

If there is one thing I have missed over lockdown, it is the daily (or sometimes twice or thrice daily!) story sharing sessions with the children in my class. It’s a serious business in my classroom; we settle down, we quieten down, we get comfortable and we listen. We imagine, we empathise, we understand, we laugh, we think and we discuss. It’s a small moment carved out of a busy day to share something that we can all enjoy, children and adults alike. When schools closed suddenly and we hurriedly prepared to get children ready for home learning, a child in my class asked me if and when we were going to finish our class story book. It is part of the story of a child’s time at school and part of the rich tapestry of memories that they will carry with them forever.

It struck me that one of the few ways I felt I could meaningfully communicate with my class from home was through recording and sharing stories and lots of other teachers have felt the same. The Google classrooms were awash with grainy videos of teachers reading aloud, connecting with children in our favourite way… sharing a story.

Last month, it was Reading Together Day. We’ve celebrated World Book Day and World Reading Aloud day but I love the idea of a day all about the joys of reading together, how it can foster relationships, build shared memories and become part of the fabric of school and family life. It’s truly one of my favourite things about being a teacher. I’m sharing a link at the bottom of the blog post where Cressida Cowell (Waterstones Children’s Laureate) gives her top tips for sharing stories with your children. As she says ten minutes a day is all it takes to reap the rewards of a shared family language and a beloved routine that lives far beyond childhood. Happy reading and happy sharing, I for one can’t wait to get back to it!

P.S. Check out the ‘Reading Rocks’ section of the school website for loads of book recommendations for children of all ages.

Sophie Maynes

a virtual library for voracious readers

Reading - an entitlement and pleasure in every child's childhood

Growing lifelong readers at home will not only help children learn and achieve more in school, it is an important indicator of their future success.

Below are links to videos, audio recordings and PDFs of more recommended reads to share and enjoy for children of all ages.

It is important that children read aloud, to themselves and others and learn to decode words it is also important that they engage in meaning, story and ideas. This is where the pleasure of reading is found. This reading, reading for meaning, can be done by reading yourself or listening to a book read aloud. Listening to stories and hearing books read aloud at home with the adults they love best and in school too, is important. This more than anything will grow lifelong, happy readers.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons