The class novels are the teacher’s choice and change depending on yearly topics, new book releases and the needs of their cohort. This allows the teacher to have some choice over their class’s reading diet but ensures that our children meet the best of the best of literature and have their knowledge deepened at all points. We read at least 6 class books per year.
The class novel ensures children have access to and study a text in its entirety from start to finish and build the skill of following a text through. We also use the class novel to focus on the skills of prediction and summary as these are better applied to the entirety of a text. We were aware that studying one book all the time couldn’t guarantee that children were getting a strong diet of poetry, non-fiction and picture books so we developed ‘Book Club’.
We teach whole class cross-curricular reading sessions in Key Stage Two which we call ‘Book Club’. Class teachers are able to hear most children reading aloud using this approach. We believe it is pivotal that all children remain in the lesson to work on those specific reading skills, even if they do not have the separate decoding skills. Whole class reading sessions are about building understanding and comprehension so pre-reading the texts with certain children (at home or in school) or reading texts to children in these sessions is encouraged. Decoding time, for those who need it, takes place separately to the whole class reading sessions. It is not a substitution. Any phonics intervention occurs outside of these sessions.
Our book club sessions use a vast spine of quality ‘linked texts’ covering all areas of the curriculum. To create our curriculum we started with fiction and include classics we believe our children deserve exposure to, both in terms of timelessness and also that tricky language that sometimes evades modern literature because we don’t speak that way anymore. From there we thought about poetry (including songs) and picture books. We mapped the science topics out across the year groups and created reading lessons to enrich the children’s understanding. Then we looked at incorporating history and geography: these are already reading rich subjects. There are links to RE and PSHE and our broad and balanced reading curriculum introduces our children to notable people. Class teachers are able to select their book club sessions according to their topics, class novel and cohort.
To ensure we have a consistent KS2 approach to our shared guided reading lessons, book club uses VIPERS:
Explanation (of authorial intent or impact on reader)
Summarising and Sequencing
Every lesson follows the same format and begins with reading the text (this may be teacher led, student led, choral or individual) followed by a focus on vocabulary. This will be vocabulary from the text and can precede the read. Quick-fire retrieval questions then test that, at a basic level, the children have understood and accessed the text. Partner talk, individual thinking and solo tasks are then undertaken covering inferential questions, predictions, explanations, summarising and sequencing. We aim to create an environment that stimulates the generation of ideas from texts where all ideas are accepted and valued.
We assess constantly during the ‘book club’ sessions by circulating and reading work over the shoulders of children and giving live feedback, as well as ‘show calling’ work by displaying it on the board and discussing it with the class.