The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie captivated the children in Harriers (Year 5/6) class and myself from the very first page. Following the launch night at Cheltenham Literature Festival, I was provided with a copy of the book which I started to read immediately. The more I read, the more excited I became to share Daniel’s magical story with my class.
The three classes in upper key stage two decided to share the book with the children in the Spring Term as we found relevant links to our topic ‘Scrapheap Challenge.’ This also gave myself the opportunity to meet the RT=RP group to share ideas and hooks which I was then able to use as inspiration for our own planning. We introduced The Nowhere Emporium through our focused reading for pleasure sessions at the end of the day and planned our Literacy units of work for the term on the text. The children also enjoyed plenty of cross-curricular lessons linked to the book, including using ICT to create a working light system for the labyrinth of corridors in The Nowhere Emporium and learning about Ancient Egypt; one of the countries visited in the book.
Improving the standard of reading and engaging boys are important targets on our school development plan and these targets are well reflected in my class; as I had found out during the Autumn Term. It was often challenging to engage the boys and lower achievers in class texts and writing lessons, particularly as a high number of my year 6 pupils are working towards age-related expectations.
From the very first chapter, my whole class were hooked. Every time we finished reading a section, there were notable sighs of disappointment and gasps when left on a cliff hanger moment! There was silence in the room during ‘popcorn’ reading sessions – when a pupil reads aloud, choosing how little or how much they wish to read then choosing the next child to ‘popcorn’ read. Incredibly, pupils were asking when we would be reading next and even offering to miss out on precious golden time to find out what happens to Daniel and Ellie next in the story. A few pupils bought their own copy of the book to read ahead and it sparked so much excitement in one pupil she read the whole book and the sequel in a few weeks!
The highlight as class teacher was finding a text which sparked a love for reading in every pupil in the class; boys and girls. Pupils who had previously kept their hand down during class discussions, looked into space when whole class reading and switched off when ‘writing’ was displayed on our visual timetable were more motivated and inspired than the rest of the class. Children who were still on stage reading books were offering to read aloud in class, now able to recall key moments of Daniel’s story and infer why certain events had happened; even towards the end of the story after almost ten weeks of reading! The writing the children produced spoke for itself: newspaper reports about The Emporium appearing, instructions to create their own room in The Emporium and debates/arguments about whether imagination should be taken from customers. The language the children were inspired to use from the text was exceptional.
I have always had a love for reading and strive to share this passion with my pupils, but in seven years of teaching no other book has mesmerized a class the way The Nowhere Emporium has. The children were spellbound from start to finish and I am still seeing the benefits of this in class today.
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