Explore children’s books that excite teachers as well as pupils
A spotlight on our Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils programme

In celebration of World Book Night, we’re highlighting our Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils programme, which encourages both teachers and pupils to read for pleasure.

World Book Night, run by The Reading Agency, celebrates reading for pleasure, encourages conversation about books and inspires people to spend more time reading. Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils (RTRP), created by Cheltenham Festivals, is a programme that that encourages the same conversation, and aims to inspire teachers to find pleasure in reading by delving into five high-quality children’s books, which we have shared with you below.

In Norwich

Hosted in our home at Dragon Hall, we’re facilitating five reading/book groups over the academic year, with the hopes to form a teacher peer community where they can continue to discuss texts and offer each other support. RTRP understands the importance of making teachers ‘reading role models’ because when teachers read, pupils read.

‘The chance to read for pleasure and share my thoughts and ideas about the book with other professionals is a teacher treat!’

Sarah Power, Programme Manager, says:

‘We are delighted to be partnering with Cheltenham Festival for their Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils programme. It has been so wonderful to get to know the teachers involved, and to discuss our thoughts and feelings towards these wonderful books, and we’ve even started recommending each other some of our own favourite books! It is clear the teachers and school librarians involved are really appreciating the time, space and motivation to reengage with high quality children’s books and read for pleasure.’

The thought-provoking children’s books on our reading list…

Twitch by M.G. Leonard

Twitch has three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for birdwatching. On the first day of the summer holidays he arrives at his secret hide to find police everywhere. A convicted robber has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his talents for birdwatching in the hunt for the dangerous prisoner and find the missing loot?

The teachers described Twitch as ‘a perfect summer holiday mystery‘, and felt the book was ‘emotionally and morally layered and relevant’.

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

When discussing When the Sky Falls in our second meeting, the teachers complimented the pacing of the book, and said they couldn’t put it down. One teacher said both her and her students were brought to tears, both of sadness and of happiness.

‘In a rut with your reading? This is the book to recommend, and not just for children!’

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left their island home of Trinidad to make a new life in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else.

The teachers described Floella’s ‘compelling, colourful childhood memoir‘ as ‘thought provoking‘ and a true sensory experience of her West Indian early childhood.

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

One morning, the Hope family wake, terrified, to find the Black Dog outside their home. Only Small, the youngest of the Hope family, has the courage to go into forest and face the Black Dog. Will the Black Dog chase her and eat her up? Or is it actually much smaller and less scary than it seems? A poignant and sensitive story, Levi Pinfold’s intricate illustrations create the perfect springboard for discussing children’s fears, no matter how big or small.

We can’t wait to discuss this beautifully illustrated story at our next meeting with the teachers!

The final book we will be reading will be revealed shortly. Keep an eye on our Twitter @WritersCentre to stay up to date!

Get involved

Interested in joining our next cohort of teachers? We will be opening applications for school librarians and KS2 teachers to join our book group on Tuesday 13 June.

For more information, please contact Caitlin, Communications & Participation Assistant, via email [email protected].

The programme is supported by Arts Council England, Thirty Percy Foundation and the Unwin Charitable Trust.

NCW’s sessions are delivered with the support of ACE, Unwin Charitable Trust and Thirty Percy Foundation.

Cheltenham Festivals’ other partners include: Book Council of Wales, Bradford Literature Festival, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), Just Imagine, KEAP (The Writers’ Block), National Literacy Trust, Peters, Seven Stories the National Centre for Children’s Books, The English and Media Centre, The Reader, The Story Museum and Wigtown Festival Company.

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