If you follow me on Twitter, you might have picked up that I help out at our church primary school most weeks, reading with kids who need a bit of a boost with their comprehension and language.
What’s been fun for me this year has been spending time with kids with a wide range of abilities – some are on a level 2 (just about reading) and others on a level 5 (top ability at the end of school). All the kids are in year 5 or 6 and they come to me in pairs and only have about half an hour.
Since there is so little time, I’m not able to listen to them read at length or discuss a long text, especially as I like to play comprehension board games (not very cheap but lots of fun) with them too. So over the time I’ve been meeting the children, I have gradually discovered some reading materials that are enjoyable to read but also short! And these are now coming in handy at home when bedtime is getting a bit late and the kids are still pleading for a story.
The best way to have a speedy story is to read poetry. For these year 5s and 6s I’ve been using Anne Fine’s anthologies called ‘A Shame to Miss’. Parts 1 and 2 are suitable for primary aged children and contain wonderful poems and occasional notes from Anne Fine, explaining context or difficult vocabulary. I’ve found these books really helpful for improving vocabulary and helping comprehension at school, and at home the kids enjoy the rhythm and richness of the verse. There’s enough variety to suit all abilities, but these are particularly good for the higher end readers.
My kids adore poems, especially funny ones and since they’ve been young we’ve had two books of poetry which we return to again and again. The first is The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems, a colourfully illustrated anthology edited by June Crebin, which is now minus its front cover and torn about the edges because it’s been so well used. The second is Mustard, Custard, Grumblebelly and Gravy by Michael Rosen. This book is hilarious, full of quirky poems about everyday situations, and has caused my children to commit poetry to memory. The first year we had the book, they wanted to spend all summer repeating ‘Tiffy taffy toffee on the flee flow floor’. They learnt it by heart and we were blessed with its silly rhymes for months.