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Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils... Letters to the Lighthouse - Linden Primary School

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Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils

In year five, we have used Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll as an immersive starting point for our theme this term. Our theme explores the wider effects of World War II, which this book compliments beautifully. The story is perfectly written for children of this age group, with an easy to follow plot that still provides entertaining unpredictability that keeps the children gripped. There is a huge buzz when the class find out we are doing some work linked to the book.

From reading the book, the children created menus that someone welcoming an evacuee might have prepared. This was based on how Olive and Cliff were feeling when leaving London to travel to Portsmouth. This involved researching the types of food that were rationed and how they could utilise different descriptive techniques in their writing to make the food sound more appetising.

The way in which Emma Carroll depicts the German planes using the lighthouse to navigate the coast, as well as the effect this had on the villagers, gave rise to the opportunity for the children to write a diary entry from the perspective of the pilots. Exploring how they would have had similar worries about their own families was a key part of the process. This allowed us to look deeper at the comparable effects the war had on both sides, breaking down some of the misconceptions held by the children.

After reading the part of the book where the lighthouse had been disguised, the children created before and after paintings. Based on the description and using their inference skills, they created an accurate representation of the lighthouse, carefully thinking about its scale and position within the piece of work. The outcomes were fantastic, and the classes were able to identify details that were in themselves small, but when added together made the composition stronger.

Letters from the Lighthouse has had a deeply profound effect on the pupils. They have read a book in a way they rarely have before. Even reluctant readers have been drawn in by the way in which the book has driven so much of their work. This is partly because it has added a depth and realism to the theme that isn’t often possible. The ‘buzz’ has inspired many of the students to read other titles that follow a similar theme, but were not necessarily the choice they would have made before studying this book.

What did the children think of Letters to the Lighthouse?

The book is so good I bought a copy for myself so that I could read it at home.

I really enjoyed Letters from the Lighthouse because the description makes me feel like I’m there.

I only like certain books, but I love Letters from the Lighthouse, it’s fantastic. I’d love to read more of Emma Carroll’s books.

I think the book is amazing and really interesting, because of the characters.

In my opinion I think everyone should read this book, it’s brilliant!

RT=RP is just that. Our enthusiasm has fed their own, and the difference is astounding. They are eagerly waiting to find out which novel we will be studying next. The impact on the quality and progression of the children’s work has shown real progress and blown Year 5 teaching staff away. Thus, this has led to discussions on the teaching of reading within all areas of the curriculum, and how it can engage learners of all demographics.

Jess Bebber
Linden Primary School

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