Q: I would like some suggestions to get 12 - 15 year old boys and girls to read for pleasure. Could you please include audio books for the less able reader and have you any suggestions for the same age group but who have a reading age of between eight and ten. Thanks

A: Thank you for your question and I hope the following will be some help.
I would like to suggest the titles included on ReadingZone's Book of the Month (Archive, KS3). These are all selected and reviewed by specialists and Roehampton and there are some great titles listed, such as The Book Thief, The Wrong Hands and Al Capone Does My Shirts.
To follow are some recently-published titles that I feel will suit both boys and girls (12-15 years) who are confident readers:

- The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman (thriller)
- The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman (historical thriller)
- Small-Minded Giants by Oisin McGann (Sci-fi)
- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Real life and futuristic, for older readers, very powerful)
- The Medici Seal by Theresa Breslin (historical fiction)
- Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (adventure)
- The Devil's Breath by David Gilman (adventure)
- Rift by Beverley Birch (adventure)
- The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (fantasy)
- Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine (real life)
- My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

- Boy Soldier series by Andy McNabb
- Chris Ryan titles (eg Outbreak)
- Cherub series by Robert Muchamore
- Any Kevin Brookes title

- The Declaration by Gemma Malley (real life, futuristic)
- Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (real life)
- Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
- Siberia by Ann Halam
- A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd

Audio: All of which can be accompanied by the book
- Malorie Blackman's Naughts & Crosses series
- Terry Pratchett titles including Johnny & The Bomb
- Kate Thompson's The New Policeman
- The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Reading age 8-10 years (for 12-15 years)
There are three main publishers developing titles for this age range - Barrington Stoke, A&C Black's White Wolves series and Ransom.
The Barrington Stoke list ( includes titles for readers aged 13-16 with a reading age of 8 and great authors such as Vivian French, Robert Swindells and Kevin Brooks.
The Ransom list includes titles for teenagers with a reading age 7 to 10 years ( and non-fiction titles such as Extreme Sports
Finally the White Wolves list by A&C Black which are suitable for guided reading and include teaching resources (

I hope that this is helpful but do get in touch if there is anything else you need or want further information on.

Q: Could you recommend any books for boys of about 7-9 years who are very able but not necessarily mature enough to understand the concepts in books for the older child i.e. lord of the rings?

A: Suggestions for boys of 7-9 who are able readers

The following suggestions are based on theassumption that the readers are capable of tackling the length and the density of text in The Hobbit.

Series of stories
•Eoin Colfer 'Artemis Fowl' (two more books in series so far) Puffin
•Kevin Crossly-Holland 'The Seeing Stone' (first of a trilogy involving King Arthur) Orion Books
•Anthony Horowitz 'Stormbreaker' (first of Alex Rider adventure series) Walker Books
•Michell Paver 'Wolf Brother' (first of a growing series) Orion
•Caroline Lawrence 'The Thieves of Ostia' (mystery series set in Roman Times) Orion
•Lemony Snickett 'A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning' (many more books in this series) Egmont Books

Other single books by authors worth reading:
•Philip Pullman 'I was a Rat' Corgi Yearling
•Malorie Blackman 'Hacker' Corgi
•David Almond 'Skellig' Hodder
•Andrew Clements 'Frindle' Simon & Schuster
•Pete Johnson 'How to train your parents' Corgi
•Rodman Philbrick 'Freak the Mighty' Usborne
•Louis Sacher 'Holes' Bloomsbury
•Michael Morpurgo & Michael Foreman 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' Walker

There are many more but I hope this will be enough to get started.

Q: We are investing in some abridged audio tapes or cds for less able students to listen to during private reading. Do you have any suggestions? It will be for KS3 students who are at level 3 and 4.

A: Audio books for less confident readers at Ks 3

Short stories may be the best sort of audio books if students are to have a satisfactory experience within the time span of a lesson. For example:

Chivers Audio Books produce versions of:
Paul Jennings 'Thirteen Unpredictable Tales'
Terry Deary 'True Spy Stories' (and several other True …. Stories by Terry Deary.

Naxos Audio Books produce versions of many ‘classic’ titles e.g. 'Treasure Island', 'Tom Sawyer', Shakespeare and 'Tales from Greek Legends'.

The BBC produce several audio books including:
Sherlock Holmes Stories

Chivers has a particularly good list of recent children’s fiction including:
Michelle Paver 'Wolf Brother'
Ted Hughes 'The Iron Man'
Rodman Philbrick 'The Mighty'
Gillian Cross 'The Demon Headmaster'
Jacqueline Wilson 'Dustbin Baby'
Philip Pullman 'Clockwork'
Pete Johnson 'How to train your parents'
Anthony Horowitz 'Granny'
Theresa Breslin 'Dream Master Nightmare'
… and many more.

Chivers, Naxos and BBC can be accessed via the internet and you can buy on line.

Q: I have got to teach classic poetry to seven to nine year olds. I dont know much about poetry. What do you suggest I use and what should I do?

A: When people use a term such as 'classic' they often mean 'old' and 'well known'. For seven- to nine-year-olds this can easily be covered by poems from 'A Child's Garden of Verse' (R. L. Stevenson), or the poetry written by Eleanor Farjeon or by Winnie the Pooh author, A. A. Milne, in his books 'When we were very young' and 'Now we are six' (I know the children are 7+ but the poems are still suitable). Browse through the books and find a few poems that you like (six will be plenty) and practise reading them aloud. The first time you introduce them to your class, read them aloud for the pleasure of listening and let the children respond. Let them choose a poem from the group that you read to illustrate or act out. Ask them to learn a few lines from their favourite poem for homework. Have a shared class 'performance' of the learned lines. When they are really familiar with (and hopefully fond of) the chosen poems, look more closely at the language to explore figurative language. They may then like to try writing a poem of their own on a similar theme.

Q: NLS Term 2 for Year 3 says that I have to teach traditional stories. Where do I start? Is there a particular book that I need?

A: Any book of traditional tales will help you achieve NLS Text level Reading comprehension statements 1, 2 and 3 and Writing composition statement 10.

The great thing about traditional tales is that we all are almost sure to know some stories very well already. With Year 3, you can also assume that the children will know some, too. Rather than reading, start by telling some old favourites (NB remember there are tales from many cultures) and getting the children to tell and write straightforward re-tellings of stories such as Cinderella, the Three Bears and Aladdin. Any versions of the traditional tales in print will be good to have in your classroom. There are some which are ideal for the reading levels you can expect in Year 3 – for example, First Fairy Tales and The Greatest Adventures in the World, both published by Orchard Books and Ladybird Tales and Favourite Tales published by Ladybird Books.