I joined the Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils group in October 2019. I was keen to join the group and work with like-minded adults who were keen to get children to read more. The initial book was The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum, and what a great book to start with. It engaged me from the start!
Therefore, when I was starting my girls’ reading group in January I knew this was the book that I wanted to read with them. After buying some additional copies from my local bookstore – who are supportive and give me a teachers’ discount – I was well equipped to start the sessions. The girls had been selected as a group who were engaged in reading but needed a bit more of a push to get to a greater depth, although a couple were already there as role models.
We introduced the book by exploring the front cover and making predictions. These initial predictions started quite simply: 3 children who go inside a dark forest. However, after some discussion, the girls got more confident and ended up with: the middle child has really bad luck; the older and younger children are unique; they go into the forest and the middle child disappears; or, 3 siblings live in a world where all the colour has been sucked out and the key to getting the colour back lies in the forest so they try and find it!
The girls then began to read as a group and were really supportive of each other. They started stopping at different points and asking for words to be clarified. We created a definition list and the girls took a word home a week to find the meaning in a dictionary. We returned to this the following week so as to ensure that the girls all understood the meanings of the words.
As we read and discussed more and more of the text, the girls drafted character profiles, then wrote more in-depth ones, wrote a newspaper report about what happened to the Wetherals, re-enacted the scene between Maggie and Mayor Anderson as a drama activity, wrote a diary entry as Maggie and one as Trig, they imagined that they were Maggie and wrote to Mayor Anderson and also drew a picture of Mr Opal based upon the words in the text.
Due to school closures amid the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, we haven’t been able to complete the book together. However, that hasn’t stopped the girls. They have continued to engage with the text at a distance, sharing comments and reflections in our google classroom. They are also completing book reviews to share with their peers as part of their distance learning.