Pie Corbett says…
“Great books build the imagination. The more we read aloud expressively, and the more children are able to savour, discuss and reinterpret literature through the arts, the more memorable the characters, places and events become, building an inner world. A child who is read to will have an inner kingdom of unicorns, talking spiders and a knife that cuts into other worlds. The mind is like a ‘tardis’; it may seem small but inside there are many mansions. Each great book develops the imagination and equips the reader with language.”
At St Margaret Clitherow’s, we have created a list of core, high-quality texts for each year group from EYFS-Year 6. Although children will be exposed to many texts beyond those listed, we have selected these core texts to ensure our children experience a wide-range of texts types, to support our children in entering the world of story and to foster a love of reading.
Inspired by Doug Lemov – Reading Reconsidered, we have included 5 key strands within our reading spine to ensure our children access a range of text complexity in order to become competent, confident readers.
These 5 forms of text complexity are:
Archaic Language—The vocabulary, usage, syntax and context for cultural reference of texts over 50 or 100 years old are vastly different and typically more complex than texts written today.
Non-Linear Time Sequences: In passages written exclusively for students—or more specifically for student assessments—time tends to unfold with consistency. But in the best books, books where every aspect of the narration is nuanced to create an exact image, time moves in fits and start. It doubles back. The only way to master such books is to have read them time and again and to be carefully introduced to them by a thoughtful teacher or parent.
Misleading/Narratively Complex—Books are sometimes narrated by an unreliable narrator- Scout, for example, who doesn’t understand and misperceives some of what happened to her. Or the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” who is a madman out of touch with reality. Other books have multiple narrators such as Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Others have non-human narrators such as the horse that tells the story in Black Beauty.
Figurative/Symbolic Text – As with Animal Farm or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, these stories happen on an allegorical or symbolic level.
Resistant Texts—texts written to deliberately resist easy meaning-making by readers. Perhaps half of the poems ever written fall into this category. You have to assemble meaning around nuances, hints, uncertainties and clues.
Also included within our reading spine, are texts which our teaching staff have selected as being of high-quality and those which the children enjoy hearing again and again. These are texts which expose our children to a wide range of authors, characters and settings. Furthermore, in order to reflect our community and world of culture, we have ensured that our children are taught about race, diversity and inclusion through the collection of books that they experience.
Of course, our reading spine is not exhaustive. At St Margaret Clitherow’s, our children will experience many more texts through our writing process, wider curriculum and children’s choice. Beyond adult-led reading time, children can access these core texts, and more, within their reading areas and Read Together home-reading boxes.