Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Primary Resources Literacy

8th March 2017


One of the best parts of this job are the emails I get from parents and teachers. I was recently contacted by a teacher who was using in class and writing BRILLIANT reviews and I wanted to find out more. Here's her story.


My love for reading started from an early age, being read to by parents, grandparents, other family members and teachers. One particular memory was when I was in year 4 at primary school, my teacher read us The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was enchanting. I’d never made the connection between my Nan having a wardrobe in her spare room until I’d heard this story. And in the wardrobe were her fur coats, just like the book. It had never dawned on me before just how similar the two were. I’d always been in love with the coats and would try them on at any given opportunity. I remember finding out that Lucy goes through the wardrobe and my friend came round to my nans with me that day. We crept into the wardrobe and pretended we’d reached Narnia, squeezing through the soft, plush furs and reaching the new world. This was over 20 years ago and I still remember it as vividly as if it happened yesterday.

I shared that story with my class this year and they too were transfixed. I also read them the book and they were fascinated by the imaginary world. I love the awe on their faces when they find out something spectacular has just happened. My love for reading has definitely fuelled some big readers in my class too. To see an adult read a book when you are a child is spellbinding, what are they reading? How can they read such a big book? Are some of the questions that pass through children’s minds. I have a huge habit of buying books, whatever they are, children’s fiction, adult fiction, young adult’s fiction and picture books, I just enjoy surrounding myself with books. The children have loved having ‘Miss Rankin’s’ books in class and being able to borrow them.

They’re presented in a picnic basket which they thought interesting in our book corner which is a reading garden. I’ve always loved reading and think being able to read is one of the most precious and powerful tools you can possess. At my last school reading was a major struggle and a lot of children didn’t enjoy it. We studied about rainforests and I set about a challenge to encourage them to want to visit the book corner and find out all of the world’s deep inside books so I created a reading rainforest, with the analogy of exploring and getting lost – in a book, just like you could explore and get lost in a rainforest. The book corner had huge leaves, netting and even a snake (albeit a stuffed, toy snake). The children were fascinated and I was too, when their interest in reading began to grow, they desperately wanted to be in that rainforest, to explore the setting and books.

I then made it my duty that wherever I was, I would pass on my passion for reading. I read animatedly and with expression, just like we encourage children to – they laugh, giggle and gasp at the way the books are read to them and then I hear them sharing the experiences with others, lunchtime supervisors, other teachers, their peers. Then I found Toppsta. The chances of winning books I thought was pretty slim until I found myself the winner of a short book called Feely’s Magic Diary. It was then that I got the bug for entering the giveaways with my classes and encouraging my niece to read and review also. The children were so excited to enter them and review them even if they hadn’t won a book, the thrill of possibly winning, encouraged them to read more and choose to do book reviews as their reading homework, summarising the plot, the characters and choosing what they did and didn’t like. In class children are encouraged to read with reading challenges to reach their own target – moving up a stage in reading or reading so many books per term.

Toppsta is perfect for reluctant readers. It’s a wonderful tool for teaching and shaping a child’s love for reading and I am thankful I found it as it has continued to encompass their desire to read for themselves, to read for pleasure. Our favourites from Toppsta so far have been; The Bolds By Julian Clary, The Royal Rabbits of London By Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Knight who wouldn’t fight By Helen Docherty and Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx By Laura Wood. Each day the children look forward to snack time when we share our class story and whenever we finish a book we head straight to and review it as a class but I have also been known to enter children’s reading homework book reviews as they have been so informative. 


Miss Rankin is a year 2 teacher at a primary school in Sutton Coldfield

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