Since the introduction of the Revised Curriculum in 1999, many teachers have begun using a novel with their pupils as well as the more traditional 'reader' or textbook. Some teachers have decided not to use 'readers' at all, choosing instead to use novels with their class. Here two pupils from Stratford National School, who used Marilyn Taylor's novel Faraway Home last term, share their thoughts on the advantages of using class novels:
Reading expands both the imagination and the vocabulary and using a class novel is a brilliant idea for many reasons.
Books on World Wars One and Two are very educational. They tell you how Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and other groups different to the Nazi idea of the 'average person' were treated.
Books on life as a teenager or young person are also very good for use as a class novel. They teach you that you are not alone in the world, whatever your problem may be, even if you feel you can't tell anyone your problem for fear of people making a laughing-stock out of you. This type of story is near-to-life, so you can relate to the characters.
Class novels are a very good idea for less fluent readers or for readers who don't practise much, as reading in class with everyone else is a great way to make you start to read more often. They are also a great way to pick up ideas for essays.
You can also discuss different parts of the story and you can share your points of view and listen to others. Some people may have different points of view to you, but that doesn't mean they’re wrong. Everyone's mind works differently, thinks differently and is perceived differently. Class novels show you that. If the class novel allows you to see other people's point of view, you never know, at the end of the day, you just might agree with them.
by Alex M, age 11
I chose to write this essay about why we should read a class novel because I recently read Marilyn Taylor’s fabulous book Faraway Home in class.
I think we should read a class novel because it encourages people who don't usually read to participate and enjoy, because they might have some chapters to read for homework. We gain such a lot of new knowledge from books and if we get into the habit of reading we can relate to a lot of our other subjects. It also helps you to be able to read out loud and this will improve your speech and pronunciation.
Another reason to read a class novel is if your teacher picks a book on some type of history period such as the Second World War, you and your class will learn a lot more about the history you're studying. For instance, I learned more about Jewish culture and history from Faraway Home than I would have done from just a history book.
Marilyn Taylor has inspired me to become a writer when I grow up. I want to mention that reading Faraway Home was very enjoyable and this book is a credit to Marilyn Taylor and it deserved to win the Bisto overall prize in May 2000.
by Noelle K, age 12