Next week NACE and Rising Stars are hosting the English for the More Able conference in York, bringing together educators, researchers and advisers from across the country to explore strategies to challenge more able learners in primary English. In this blog post, Victoria Burrill, author of Rising Stars’ English for the More Able activity book series, picks out 10 texts with a lasting power to engage, inspire and challenge young learners – plus recommendations of what to read next… 

The Twits by Roald Dahl

I am yet to meet a child who doesn’t love Roald Dahl’s stories and I think it’s because they make you laugh, cry, grimace, cower and cheer all at once. You will meet characters like none you’ve met before and you will want to read this book over and over again.
If you like this, try: Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and joined the library) by A. F. Harrold

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

This is a simple tale of adventure and friendship. The relationship between the eponymous child and his ursine companion will enchant you and teach you that not all adventures are the same.
If you like this, try: Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling

If you want to experience the power of imagination, this almanac of wondrous beasts will whisk you away and hopefully encourage to create your own incredible creatures.
If you like this, try: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Di Camillo

This charming tale will take you around the world, both under and over the sea. The protagonist, Edward, will enchant you and show you how some characters can capture your imagination and your heart. 
If you like this, try: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Di Camillo

Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird

This is a story to make you think, to make you feel grateful and safe, and to help you understand that good can come from tragedy. It will open your eyes to the lives of others.
If you like this, try: The Garbage Kid by Elizabeth Laird

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A story like no other. Told from a number of perspectives, this is a story of facing difficulties and finding friends. This book will make you feel something that you won’t forget.
If you like this, try: One by Sarah Crossan

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Prepare to be spooked! This book is beautifully written and will teach you the power of words in creating atmosphere. 
If you like this, try: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde

An old story with a message which remains current and important. This simple tale is full of storytelling power. It has a moral to which we can all relate, whether we are the children or the giant.
If you like this, try: The Little Prince by Anton de Saint-Exupéry 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

This story offers its readers the ultimate “What if?” It will make you think and wonder about things you may have never wondered about before. Join the protagonists in making the ultimate life or death decision.
If you like this, try: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie 

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

This book uses words and pictures in an usual way to tell a very human story and one which is very relevant to our modern, global society. It will make you think and might open your eyes to the experiences of others.
If you like this, try: Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

More ideas and inspiration...

For more texts, ideas and activities to engage and challenge young learners, check out the full English for the More Able activity book series from Rising Stars – featuring a diverse selection of modern and classic texts, challenging comprehension questions, tasks to develop analytical skills, complex vocabulary, debate, discussion and more. If your school is a NACE member, log in for details of how to access your NACE members’ discount on Rising Stars resources.
Join us in York! Join NACE and Rising Stars at the English for the More Able conference in York on 15 March – dedicated to sharing the latest resources and evidence-based approaches to challenge and support more able learners in primary English. View the full conference programme, and book your place online.

Victoria Burrill is Head of English at Newton Prep School in Battersea, London. She teaches Years 5 to 8, preparing children for pre-tests and entrance exams for London day schools at both 11+ and 13+ and Common Entrance at 13+. She has written for both Rising Stars and Galore Park for the past four years and her catalogue includes the English for the More Able series, 11+ Practice Papers and Revision Guide, and the Galore Park English textbook series for Years 3 to 6. Her particular passion is to instil a love of literature in her students and she plans her lessons around whole novels, using them to teach key skills and to evoke a love of a good story.

Friday, March 9, 2018