Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

How one school in Birmingham encourages a love of reading

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This is a guest blog from Ms Ryan, St Bernadette's School. This is a truly inspirational school, who have developed a real reading culture and use the Toppsta website to discover new books and our Reading Records to encourage the children on their reading journey. They're also hoping to raise £90 to purchase books recommended in the Reading Records.

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Our school in Yardley, Birmingham is amazing! We have a motto:

Learn to love and love to learn.

We try to show love in many different ways in school.  To love each other, to love ourselves and to love learning.  This school year, all staff have decided that one of our priorities is to share our love of reading, explore new authors and books with our children and most importantly help them to develop their reading opinions.  We want our children to recommend books for their teachers, parents and governors to read.  We want them to give book reviews to their peers and debate if we should read it as a class.  We want them to know that their book opinions are valid and valued.  How do we do all of this?  We use Toppsta of course!

Toppsta
2020-09-30
How one school in Birmingham encourages a love of reading

We simply love the Toppsta website.  This book review community is used by children and adults who love children’s books and you can win books!  Each week, giveaways are launched, and they often include authors and books that that the children have never encountered before.  We research the new book and author and consider which book we want to read next.  Zainab Main’s Omar was one character we knew we had to read about, and we were lucky enough to win that book in lockdown!  When the magic, brown wrapping of a giveaway arrives in class, the children bang their tables in a drum roll before we open the precious package.  Once we have read the book then we review it.  Writing a review is an exciting, powerful time.  Using their summary skills, the process helps our children reflect on the author’s use of language and they use their inference and deduction skills to explain character feelings and motives.  Honest, concise reviews are important as they know peers will read them.  We all love seeing our children jumping up in down when they realise their review is live and parents and teachers all swell with pride when part of their opinion is tweeted or liked (sometimes by the author or illustrator). 

Toppsta
2020-09-30
How one school in Birmingham encourages a love of reading

Home and school are working tirelessly to promote this reading priority.  Toppsta has helped us further when we won some amazing reading diaries!  Bright, engaging, packed full of book recommendations, full of tips for writing reviews, spaces to write book reviews – these diaries are perfect to help our children on their book exploration journey!  To help fulfil our school motto, each year band holds a charity event each half term, throughout the school year.  This year, Year 3 have decided to hold a sponsored read event.  Our children suggested that they wanted to ‘own’ their diaries and use them to show how often they are reading and record favourite phrases and words to use in their own work.  They have recorded illustrations and fonts that have engaged them and recorded facts that have astonished them.  They know these diaries will not be marked or judged.  They belong to the children and they are precious.  Teachers add stamps and stickers and parents can write in them too.  They are a record of book, author and illustrator discovery.  They show home and school how much we all value reading and they help us to reinforce what a precious gift a book is.

Toppsta
2020-09-30
How one school in Birmingham encourages a love of reading

We are incredibly lucky that our school library is amazing and full of great books that support our reading scheme.   We want to spend the money we raise on books for our class bookshelves.  We want our Year 3 bookshelves to have books and reading material on there that have been recommended by our children.  We know we have high aspirations, but we want football and rugby programmes, we want graphic novels, we want non-fiction books that make our jaws drop and fiction that makes us escape into a different world!

We have 90 children in our year (3 classes) and we’re hoping to raise at least £90 or book donations. The diaries have age specific recommendations and we have short listed some of these that we hope we can buy with any money we raise.  The problem is there are too many we want to buy!  We have a child crossing her fingers we can buy Football School Epic Heros!  The teachers want to find out more about the Ultimate Test in Wayside School.  A child wants to make sure his teacher who isn’t fond of cats reads Toto the Ninja Cat and changes her opinion of them!  We want to read! We know that we cannot have all the books we want but we’re excited at the prospect of debating this problem and deciding on which books to buy!

Thank you Toppsta and all the publishers concerned with creating the reading diaries and facilitating the giveaways.  Thank you for helping us on our home and school journey of developing discerning, critical readers, who love to talk about their reading!

Toppsta
2020-09-30
How one school in Birmingham encourages a love of reading

29th September 2020

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