Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils...Slimbridge Primary School

Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils...Slimbridge Primary School

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Rhi Randall, Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils participant and teacher at Slimbridge Primary School, tells us how she’s using #ReadingTeachers book, Shackleton’s Journey to inspire her class…

I’m always on the look out for exciting children’s literature to share with my Year 5/6 class and becoming involved in Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils project has really helped to boost the interest, enthusiasm and attainment of my class. Our second book, Shackleton’s Journey, by William Grill, was a brilliant choice for both the history and geography lovers amongst my class, me included!

The book is filled with excellent illustrations which capture the smaller details of the story, such as information about the dogs, the crew and the equipment they took with them in their attempt to cross Antarctica. The children loved looking at the images and we decided that they captured the isolation and vulnerability of Shackleton and his men perfectly.


I used photographs and video footage as an accompaniment to the book to bring real perspective to the story and to allow the journey and adventure to come to life (to us, this was a no-brainer – now we were dealing with real people, real feelings and emotions and real bravery and survival). My class became fascinated with these men and it became a great vehicle for discussion.

Some of the themes we enjoyed discussing were:

  • What must it have felt like to know that you were hundreds of miles from civilization and safety?
    To us, this was almost too hard to comprehend. Words such as ‘petrified’ and ‘dispirited’ were thrown around the classroom. At this point in the story, many of us thought that all hope of survival was surely gone…
  • Was Shackleton brave or foolish to leave his crew to find help?
    The answers were very mixed, but based on the treacherous circumstances at the time, we concluded that it was probably a mixture of both.
  • What made Shackleton a good leader?
    We all agreed that he was kind, extremely optimistic and a real believer. This fuelled our own discussions about the qualities we’d look for in a good leader.

Most of the children in my class had never heard of Ernest Shackleton prior to reading; they had no idea of the gruelling feat that lay ahead of him and his crew, nor how the journey would end. Safe to say that we were amazed and a little delighted with the miracle ending – there were even cheers!

A Year 6 boy in my class described the book as ‘totally mesmerising’; it truly was.

Rhi Randall
Year 5/6 Teacher
Slimbridge Primary School

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