Canon of texts?!

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Canon of texts?!

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    I have put this on the English forum to but thought I'd put it out there on primary too!

    I was on a Ruth Miskin course a few weeks ago to look at her intervention programmes (anyone used 'fresh start' as an extra thought?  I'm not convinced at the mo)  but one of the things she mentioned that I have been mulling over is the 'canon of texts.'  I know this could be a bit Gove-ish so I don't want to start a political debate, I would just be interested if anyone already has core texts that are repeated over the course of the year or some core texts that are read in each year?  Moving into Year 6 for the first time, I have just been looking at some of the books I want us to enjoy as classreaders during the year but there are some members of staff that either read one book over and over each year or dont read to there class often enough, if at all (I know!)

    As English coordinator, one thing I was thinking of doing was giving each year group (we are a junior school) a list of books I would like them to read over the course of the year, making sure they are exposed to a range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books etc.  Has anyone done anything like this at their own school? 

    So far, Year 6 was thinking Holes/Boy in the Girls Bathroom, 5 children and it, the listeners, kensukes kingdom/private peaceful, old possums book of practical cats perhaps?, the red tree?

     I'd appreciate any advice on texts to use or if you have apporached something similar in your school, how you went about it.  Thanks!

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    I've used these successfully in Y5 and 6, either as class readers or as books we've based a unit for work on:

    Boy in TGB, Kensuke's Kingdom, Street Child, Stormbreaker, Wolf Brother, Skellig, Surprising Joy, The London Eye Mystery, Goodnight Mr Tom, Carrie's War, Clockwork, The Lady of Shallott, The Highwayman, Way Home.

     

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    Thanks, some of these we have used already in Year 5 with links to transition but thats a great start, I think I'll re-read Stormbreaker on my holiday next week!!

    Do you all choose your own or do you have set texts?  I personally would rather choose my own but some of my collegues need some direction and others are NQTs so would like to give them a basic outline at least.  I think when Ruth Miskin talked about it she said that there should be 4/5 a term which seems quite a lot but maybe she means shorter novels/singular poems?  Anyone know what she means?!

    Thanks nick909, I havent heard of surprising joy or the london eye mystery so am off to amazon!

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    I tried (and failed) to find Pie Corbett's suggested list of mentor texts on the archived version of the Strategies website, but I did find this from the Berkshire Library Service.

    http://www.berkshire-els.gov.uk/downloads/bookshop/talk4writing.pdf

    They don't directly say which year group the books were for, but they are grouped together in different colours, starting with Reception, with Year 6 last of all!

    When I hear Pie Corbett speak at a Literacy Co-ordinators' meeting last summer, he did say that it was of course perfectly OK to read other books!!!!

    C x

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    Thanks for that, its a good place to start and it's nice to know some of them were ones I had already added to my list!  My problem is working with some reluctant members of staff but I definately hope they will read other books too, ones that they love and enjoy with any luck!! 

    How was the Literacy Co-ordinators meeting?  I am new-ish to the role but I would have been interested to go on something like this.  Or was it all a bit doom and gloom?!

    Smile

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    woopsy

    Do you all choose your own or do you have set texts?  I personally would rather choose my own but some of my collegues need some direction and others are NQTs so would like to give them a basic outline at least. 

    I choose my own, occasionally with a good idea in advance where they might link to an existing topic (such as Goodnight Mr Tom -WW2 or Street Child - Victorians) or where I've built a whole topic around a book (Wolf Brother - The Stone Age and recently The London Eye Mystery - Buildings/Grand Designs), and sometimes where the book stands alone.

    I have used many of them to teach narrative elements of English, as a non-fiction "unit", but many of them have been used for class readers for storytime as well.

    I personally wouldn't like the lack of autonomy of being given set texts, as I'd choose books to suit my class (and possibly what I fancied at the time as well Wink)but I can see the benefit of providing suggested lists for NQTs and teachers needing guidance. 

    I think there are possibly quite a lot of teachers who don't keep abreast of modern, high quality children's fiction - a symptom of the National Literacy Strategy/Framework, I think.  How many teachers resort to their old favourites, such as Enid Blyton and CS Lewis for storytime,I wonder?  Quite a lot, I'd say. Fine for their time but horribly dated and not relevant to children today. 

    If you provide an exhaustive list of excellent books, then at least teachers can choose from that list to suit their class/current topic, etc. 

    woopsy

    Thanks nick909, I havent heard of surprising joy or the london eye mystery so am off to amazon!

    Hope you enjoy The London Eye Mystery.  My last class, very boy-heavy and conforming to all such stereotypes loved it.  It's a real mystery and they revelled in trying to solve it.  It's very well-written as well; it was the fourth or fifth time I've read it and I've enjoyed it more every time.

    Good luck, I think that anything to improve the quality of books that children come into contact with is a hugely worthy task.  Storytime is one of the most important times a teacher can spend with their class and usually a wonderful time for all concerned as well.

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    nick909
    I have used many of them to teach narrative elements of English, as a non-fiction "unit",

    Er...clearly I meant "fiction"!
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    The Essex site has a list of suggested texts for each unit for each year group, which might be worth a look? (and no, I didn't save the link...)

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    We each chose three texts from a list that we said we would use as full on study texts each year. This means that other classes won't use them in detail, but can read them to their class should they wish. Each class in the year group has the same three texts.

    The rest of the list we chose from are ones we are asked to try to read to our class at some point, or use in small ways during the year. We are also free to read anything else we wish.

    Like you, we have some staff who just use the three they have to and nothing else, but such is the way of things.

    But then we are supposed to be a storytelling school (Pie Corbett) so most staff do as much as they can.

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    woopsy

    How was the Literacy Co-ordinators meeting?  I am new-ish to the role but I would have been interested to go on something like this.  Or was it all a bit doom and gloom?!

    It's something that's organised by our LEA. They used to be during the school day, but now funds are tighter they tend to be twilights. I always enjoy going to keep up with what's going on and share ideas. It's also nice to talk to people who are enthusiastic/positive about Reading and Writing!  Our local Literacy Consultants are really good (probably why they survived the recent LEA culls!) and have really helped me to do my job better...

    It seems that levels of support vary quite widely between LEAS...

    The Pie Corbett meeting was FABULOUS! His DVDs and books are good, but hearing he "teach" us as if we were a class really his ideas come alive. I love teaching that way anyway - it's more fun and I find that it gets better results too, even from "poor" or "reluctant" writers.

    I think they managed to get him because he'd been working with some of the local schools on a Talk for Writing project.

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    Just wanted to add my two-pennies worth!

    I completely agree that some teachers might need some guidance with this area - although I like to be able to chose for my class. Books, and developing a love for them, is and always will be a massive driver in my classroom.  I just wanted to add that although there are massive amounts of fab newer books out there (I think the original list mentioned was very good).  Some older books by Enid Blyton etc can still have their place.  I recently read "The Faraway Tree" stories to my year 4 class - not because I have no imagination but because they are magical stories.  I read it for an 'Imaginary worlds' topic and they loved it.  7 or 8 of my small class went out and bought it themselves to read at home - a first for many. 

     Guess I just wanted to say that new fiction is fab but don't tar everyone who read Enid or similar as lazy or out of touch. It isn't always the case! 

     Anything that grabs the kids is fine by me!!

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    Clair4110
     Guess I just wanted to say that new fiction is fab but don't tar everyone who read Enid or similar as lazy or out of touch. It isn't always the case! 
    I would agree. I read The River of Adventure to my year 5 class a year or so ago. They loved it. Many went out and bought the same boxed set we had in class so they could read the rest of the series. They didn't do that when we read Holes, nor The Iron Man!

    Two of my year 6 girls this year were reading Anne of Green Gables. I was thrilled to see children today enjoying such old classics and pointed out to them that there were more in the same series. Not with such lovely modern covers, but hey they still then read the rest and inspired a few more to do so.

    I read a child's version of Emma and several boys and girls then read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility from the same series, also Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.

    Am I lazy? Nopes, but I do believe classic children's and adult literature is important for children to experience and we ignore it at our peril.

    For those worrying I have also read Holes, There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom and Kensuke's Kingdom this year!

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    Good points minnieminx and Clair4110, but there is a big difference between specifically choosing a classic piece of literature (which you've done) and a teacher doggedly sticking with older fiction because they don't know anything newer (which is what some teachers do, either through lack of experience as an NQT, or through not being a book-lover themselves - and there are indeed plenty of teachers who don't read much, or sometimes, through laziness).

    Incidentally, I'd add that the Magic Faraway Tree series and the Adventure series are probably among Blyton's best works.  I was referring to the old throw-backs, the Famous Five novels, which whilst being hugely popular for their time, are actually pretty bad.

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