Some of the most inspiring books of all time were written for children, so it’s vital that we introduce works of fiction to our pupils from a young age, so they can get to know characters and learn basic themes. As pupils get older, they will start to analyse deeper meanings within their books and subsequently learn how to interpret what they read.
We sat down with education recruitment specialists, ITN Mark Education, to run through their favourite books and also an explanation of what makes them special.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This classic children’s story has remained a classroom favourite since it was published in 1969, and teaches pupils about the days of the week, being patient, animals, counting and introduces them to healthy eating.
The plot of the story follows a small caterpillar who emerges from an egg and is very hungry. He eats everything in sight over the next few days, and grows in size. Once he is full, he begins to feel ill, and begins to build a cocoon around himself. The cocoon is actually a chrysalis, and the caterpillar soon emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
The book features beautiful and unique illustrations, making it perfect to ask younger children simple questions about the pictures such as ‘does the caterpillar look sad?’ or ‘what colours can you see on this page?’
Once you’ve read the book, there are a plethora of activities that you can do with your class, including making caterpillars and butterflies with craft materials, or even seeing if you can find any outside on a nice day.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The Harry Potter series has taken the world by storm, and the franchise had made author JK Rowling a billionaire. But did you know that these books are also fantastic for teaching pupils of all ages? Younger classes will enjoy creating an alphabet book of Harry Potter characters and objects, A for Animals, B for Broomstick, C for Cat etc.
Older pupils will be able to study the tone of voice in the novel, and even look at some of the mythical creatures that are featured, as well as the myths and legends that surround them. There are lots of free lesson plans online that are based around the Harry Potter books, or you could even get creative think outside the box with some unique activities for your class!
Noughts and Crosses
This one’s great for secondary school pupils, as it explores a doomed relationship between two people from different racial groups, in a fictional society where such a relationship is frowned upon.
With themes of race, love, family and injustice, Noughts and Crosses is a fantastic novel for older pupils to really get involved in, and is sure to spark some healthy discussions in the classroom! Why not ask pupils to work in groups and choose a character to analyse? Then they can present their findings in front the class.
Although this may not be an obvious choice, Dr Seuss’ The Lorax is a brilliant read for primary school children. It tells the story of a young boy who lives in a polluted area, who is told the story of The Lorax, a mysterious creature who ‘speaks for the trees’, as they have no voice to speak for themselves. The novel teaches a valuable lesson about money, the importance of taking care of the environment, and the essential role of trees and plantlife, even in today’s modern society.
One of the most prominent themes of The Lorax is the idea of money, and how dominant it has become in our society. This is a really interesting topic for older primary school pupils to discuss, and will encourage them to share thoughts and ideas with their peers, regarding the greed and destruction that money can bring about.