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If you are interested in having a Readers that Care children’s book stall at your school, and at the same time promoting reading for pleasure, please get in touch to discuss how I can help.  I stock books from a wide selection of publishers and so if you are having a visiting author and need some books for them to sign please contact me to see how I can help.

Readers that Care Book Collections

I passionately believe every child or young person should have the opportunity to love books and reading. However, the process of finding books you really want to read as a newly indepedent reader is more complex than it seems. So I have come up with an idea to help support children to find books they want to read for pleasure. Put simply it is a strategy to encourage children to make more connections with stories and between books to help them find their next and future reads. I have created two collections, both include picture books and chapter books. 

  1. Themed collections which have connecting picture book authors and illustrators  focusing on years 2 to 3 (relevant to year 1 and 4).
  2. Standalone themed collections . Mini-collections brining together collections of books for children from reception/year 1 to year 6. 

I have chosen to focus a collection of books on years 2 , 3 and 4 for a number of reasons. One is that whilst there has been a lot done in recent years to promote awareness of middle grade fiction, children and their parents are far less aware of the range of books for 6 to 9 years out there, yet this is the very point that the majority of them are emerging as independent readers. To find out more about the background to this idea please see the bottom of this page. A second reason is that we seem to have created confusion over whether our emerging readers are equally entitled to read and explore picture books as well as chapter books. Yet there are many creative examples of how picture books have been used to develop  literacy skills and a curiosity about stories. Lets encourage our emerging readers to explore and play with picture book as well as chapter books, and by doing so increase the possibilities of them finding their next and future reads. 

You may also be interested in the Paired books which are a simple and effective way of introducing books connections.

A bit more about the themes

The idea is on a regular basis (perhaps as often as once each half-term) to display a collections of books which are connected by a theme or themes. My suggestion is that most of the themes are not curriculum or topic related, but more ‘spontaneous’, ‘wacky’, ‘adhoc’ ways to make connections between books. 

Book Selection  – This is key to the whole idea and where it get’s really interesting. 

Before reading this you may wish to read ‘The background to this idea’ near the bottom of this page. 

If you know in advance that you are going to show themed collections to the same group of children over a specific time period, then you have the opportunity to do something that could make a real difference to reading for pleasure. If you carefully select the authors and illustrators at the beginning then the same authors and illustrators can reappear in future themes, sometimes this may be the same book or different books by the same author and/or illustrator.

One of the many things I have learnt over the years is that if you change the lens that you use to search for books, you choose different books and you stumble across other books you didn’t even know existed!

The lens I have chosen to select the books:

  • This is a collection of books which are first and foremost chosen to encourage children (and there parents) to want to engage with stories. Stories that encourage reading for pleasure. Fund reads for reading alone and sharing. 
  • It includes picture books and chapter books (with the exception of one theme) – This is crucial to the whole idea. It opens the possibility for children of different ages and reading abilities to recommend books to each other.  But, it also plants the seeds of future chapter book reads for younger less confident readers. 
  • It encourages all readers (even the most able) to pick up and talk about a picture book as well as a chapter books. It gives as much significance to the illustrators as it does the authors. For some children it may be an illustrator which will connect them to their next read rather than an author. 
  • Some of the books in each collection are deliberately designed to challenge children’s perceptions, and to include some ‘variety’ and some ‘diversity’. 

Themed collections which have connecting picture book authors and illustrators

From a core selection of just eight picture books I have built 5 suggested themes in which the authors and/or illustrators and sometimes the same book reappear. 

The Core books are pictured below:

To add further connections you may also want to include these:

Theme 1: Cakes, Doughnuts, Biscuits and Marshmallows. 

Can you guess what the other themes 2, 3, 4 and 5 are? (pictured below). Make a guess and enter my competition on twitter @melissacreate15

                   

                   

Diverse Standalone Themed Collections 

To complement the above I have also developed 3 mini-themed collections which include a diverse selection of books, and which could be used as whole school displays from reception/year 1 to year 6 depending on the books you choose. 

  • Birds, Wood and Yarn*
  • Dogs, Umbrellas. kites and hot air balloons/airships  (pictured below)
  • Dance, Song and Theatre 

 

            

 

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The background to this idea

I have spent the last four years exploring and finding out about children’s books, the reading process and ways to encourage reading for pleasure. Well actually I re-discovered children’s books just before my daughter was born 9 and half years ago! But, then I started to see picture books differently. Not just as great read aloud to share with your kids, but as the multi-layered picture, and text creations that they are. My daughters transition to independent reading was not an easy one, and she went backwards as well as forwards. But, it was the inspiration to find out so much more about chapter book fiction and the start of what will probably be a life-times curiosity about what encourages a child to pick up a particular book or books.

Through observing my children’s reading journeys and multiple conversations with many others including parents, teachers, teaching assistants and librarians I have come to the view that:

It the majority of children, not the minority that at key points (so more than once) have difficulties moving from one author to the next and/ finding a book they want to read that means something to them.

There are many factors which can impact on the ability of a child to navigate the book choices available. Two broad factors which potentially affect any child are: Firstly, of a child who has yet to build up substantial reading experience the traditional way of organising chapter books ‘alphabetically by author’ is problematic, unless it is embedded in a supportive structure. For example regular contact with an experienced school librarian who has time to get to know children and to guide them to books they may like or even to encourage them to try something new. However, the majority of my customers tell me that their children either do not have a librarian at all or do not have regular contact with one. Secondly, we seem at a society level to be ‘confused about picture books’ . As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, there is an underlying assumption that: ’to progress with your reading at some point you leave picture books behind’. And the belief that ‘picture books are not for older children or adults’. I have the huge privilege of being part of some fabulous communities on twitter and I know that so many of you know that this is not the case, and are doing wonderful things with picture books in your schools and communities. Picture books are relevant to everyone no matter what your age.

Whilst reading recently the wonderful book ‘Guiding Reading – Layers of Meaning’ (1). It finally sunk in just how much a reader has to process to fully understand a text, and this increases as it get’s more complex. And that it is likely that emerging and less experienced readers will have to deal with ‘multiple interruptions’ to their reading as they build the skills, knowledge and experience to become fluent readers in the future. As a parent having school age children I have learnt that they are far more resilient to many things than I imagined that they might be. But, I have also learnt that when multiple factors converge they often need support to find their way through it. Whilst a child is building their skills at ‘reading in the moment’ and ‘reading reflection’, to also ask them to navigate the book choices out there, and find books that have meaning to them on their own I believe is asking a lot of any child, including the most able readers in a year group. But, the great news is that there are so many small things that can help children find out about and connect with books, and so many great examples that are already happening across the United Kingdom.

(1)2016: Wayne Tenenent, David Reedy, Angela Hobsbawm, Niki Gamble: Guiding Readers – Layers of Meaning: A handbook for teaching reading comprehension to 7 to 11 year olds. Institute of Education Press.

Keep-up-to-date with my Readers that Care Newsletter

To find out more about my books, receive details about where I am doing a pop-up book stall and be the first to hear about great new titles please sign-up for my newsletter

 

Melissa Jordan, Readers that Care, Cambourne, Cambridge