Posted by Tom on Feb 19, 2015
Today’s guest blog comes from Louise Johns-Shepherd and Fatim Kesvani, Chief Executive and Marketing Manager at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.
At the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) we believe that the use of high quality books within the reading curriculum is at the heart of a school’s successful approach to engage and support children to become motivated and independent readers. If children enjoy reading, they read more frequently and become better readers. If teachers and those who work in schools know about the best children’s literature available they will be able to share that with the children they teach and encourage them to be inspired as readers and motivated to read for themselves.
With this in mind we have recently launched the Core Books Online website, curated by our librarian, Ann Lazim. It is updated regularly with new titles and relevant recommendations, contains ready-created booklists and gives users the freedom to create wish-lists and download free teaching resources to support teaching with texts in the classroom. It lists books which are engaging for children for a variety of reasons and cover a range of genres – poetry, picture books (with and without words), information texts, chapter books, modern stories, traditional tales and famous classics. The books are chosen because they support children learning to read and provide memorable and positive reading experiences.
The website’s popularity has surpassed our expectations with 1600 registered users since the launch in November (which involved no advertising campaign or promotion).
Core Books Online had a humble start. First created as a simple, black and white photocopy back in 1997, it supported busy teachers by letting them know about the very best available children’s literature. It was updated every two years and teachers had to purchase it.
This cult publication soon grew in popularity due to ‘word of mouth’ and recommendations from teachers-to-teachers on forums such as the TES.
Over the years we have gained an increasingly loyal customer base and in response to this, we have been adapting our support for a generation of primary teachers who have never been so busy.
Near the top of our list of resources that we knew would be even more valuable if updated was The Core Book List. We know how important it is to ensure that children are developing the habits and the skills that enable them to read for their own pleasure but the downside of updating this paper publication every two years was that so many great new titles couldn’t be added. There is significant research that has shown us how important it is that teachers are knowledgeable about children’s literature. We know that when teachers develop their own experience, preferences and enthusiasms in reading, their personal engagement and involvement as adult readers helps them to be very clear about the nature of reading and the experience of being a reader. We had so much that we wanted to add to support teachers to develop their own reading experience and share which again we couldn’t add to a printed publication.
Getting the Core Book List online was our aim and generous support from the Man Charitable Trust meant we could offer it as a free resource for teachers – and as it is online it can also be accessed by parents, librarians and anybody else who is interested in children’s literature.
Core Books Online has now evolved and meets our commitment to support teachers with resources they actually need. The website houses a massive selection of carefully chosen texts for teachers to use when they are developing collections for their classrooms and schools as part of their reading and literacy programmes. We are able to keep it up to date; adding great new books as soon as they are published. We can include supporting teaching sequences for selected texts for download and ensure that we have useful and relevant information available to teachers all the time.
As a charity, we’ve remained true to our mission: dedicated to helping teachers to teach all aspects of literacy. We particularly emphasise the importance of books and literature in enabling children to become confident, happy and enthusiastic readers and writers, with all the benefits this brings. This has naturally brought about opportunities to reach teachers on a national scale – we are a World Book Day Partner, a National Poetry Day Partner and part of the National Literacy Forum.
Developing readers and dedicated teachers deserve Core Books Online. Teachers, librarians and parents can now freely access it knowing they will find a treasure trove of books that children will want to read, re-read, savour and remember. We are delighted to be able to spread the word about it and hope that many more people will join the current 1600 registered users encouraging a new generation of engaged children who love to read for pleasure.
Thank you, Louise and Fatim!