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Challenging books for Year 7s

Discussion in 'English' started by peetyswie, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. peetyswie

    peetyswie New commenter

    We are currently reviewing the texts we teach across years 7-9 and we want a more challenging text in year 7! We used to teach 'Holes', Skellig and Harry Potter but these are now taught in our feeder primary schools.
    We currently teach 'Animal Farm' in Year 8 and 'Lord of the Flies' in Year 9.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a modern, challenging text for Year 7 please?
    Many thanks!!
  2. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    'Chinese Cinderella' is one we've introduced recently, as well as 'I am Malala'. We also do 'My Name is Mina' as a trickier follow up to 'Skellig'.
  3. peetyswie

    peetyswie New commenter

    That's great, thank you for that!
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    How challenging do you want? We did Lord of the Rings in Y7 at my first PGCE placement school, which went down well. But because it's so massive they'd need individual copies to read for homework.
  5. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Classic texts like Alice, Oz series etc can be engaging and challenging. And they're free online - bonus.
    Plus, cos they're out of copyright you can do a lot of creative tasks with them, and publish them if you wish with no restrictions whatsoever.
  6. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    Good recommendation, as always, from roamingteacher. Interesting cultural capital as well to be gained by using the public domain books. You can always highlight and export 10% of any Kindle book, of course (for educational use etc).

    Lord of the Rings is 450,000 words. At 150 WPM average reading speed for a 12 year old, it would take 50 hours to read that book. http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Average-Reading-Speed---Are-You-Good-Enough?&id=3309855

    Huntington school English Department arrange their curriculum according to historical periods, beginning with classical literature I believe. That's an ideal way, especially if you map the development of literacy concepts.

    I think the class reader at KS3 has to be accessible, duly difficult, and with worthwhile conceptual knowledge both in terms of literacy concepts/conceits and in moral/social proposals. I've seen many schools place the KS4 exam in KS3. If that's the case, it's very important that actual knowledge and understanding of the text exists - needs to be carefully managed. I remember seeing the first page of Great Expectations with every word below a reading age of 15-16 redacted: was hilariously disheartening to see page of 'ofs' and 'thes' staring back!

    Finally, it is a duty to show every class the expected reading lists for the most ambitious and able students and to demonstrate and refer to your own reading yourself.
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Yes, that's one of the reasons why LOTR is challenging. Of course, the school where we taught it was a selective grammar, and they were expected to read a lot for homework. 'Challenging' is context dependent, which is why I mentioned this text.

    Why are you namedropping that particular school? How odd.
  8. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    I wonder to what extent speaking about WPM and reading for a length of time is useful. Certainly, university (and English teaching!) expects you to develop ways of having to read too much. A worthy skill.

    I read a HuntingEnglish blog post (now rebranded) that spoke about the curriculum I described. Worth a read: http://www.theconfidentteacher.com/2013/11/whats-english-curriculum/. Has an interesting commentary thread worth watching as well, if a little odd in places.
  9. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Ah. That school is in my neck of the woods (I went there!), and they don't organise their curriculum like that now, if indeed they ever did. They've kept some elements of it though.
  10. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    Would be interesting to know how they do so. I worked with a few of the teachers from that department and a I think they might have a demographic suitable to take a historical approach to structuring a literature/language curriculum.

    In fact, I am particularly interested in how folks do organise their curriculums these day. I suspect, as ever, they are quite compartmentalised, with links based on abstract learning verbs. l'll have a look later today on the resource bank (first time in many years!), but I suspect they might not be so freely shared.

  11. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    thequillguy likes this.
  12. atwoodfan

    atwoodfan New commenter

    'Peter Pan'?
    We used to do 'Homecoming' by Cynthia Voigt with bright Y8 students. It isn't overly long, but the concepts, plot and ideas provide challenge too.
  13. littledragon25

    littledragon25 New commenter

    We do War Horse, which the kids LOVE.
  14. rgordo

    rgordo New commenter

    1. 'Book of Everything' - kids love it. Deals with philosophical issues in a post WWII setting
    2. 'I Corriander' fantasy
    3. 'the Rosie project' - quirky tale involving an autistic male protagonist.
    4. 'Coraline' - fantasy
    5. 'Kira Kira' - beautiful novel about a Chinese family moving to America. deals with multicultural/tolerance issues
    6. 'Mao's last Dancer' - autobiograpy
    7. Steven Herrick - 'by the river' and 'simple gift'.

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