Maverick Early Readers – Review

Helping children learn to read is just the start on their journey to developing a life-long passion for reading!

We would like to draw your attention to a series of books from Maverick Publishing called Maverick Early Readers. The books have been designed for guided reading, so it is expected that they are shared with an adult.

There is a fantastic range of titles available, all with really charming illustrations and stories that will appeal to both boys and girls. Each book is well made, with sturdy paperback covers and printed on high-quality paper. We are impressed that the books are colour-coded with the book banding scheme, as developed by the UCL (University College London) Institute of Education, that is widely used in UK schools and libraries. The colours are indicated on the spine, front and back cover of each book, simplifying organisation and reading level identification.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

The earliest bands are structured around the Letters and Sounds phonics programme. We like the fact that natural English is used throughout, which keeps a good flow within the stories and avoids forcing phonics awkwardly into sentences. Books in the earliest Pink and Red bands feature around 30-50 words per story, and include two stories per book, which is ideal to keep young children’s interest and focus concentration. Stories are presented in simple sentences and the vocabulary used is mostly one syllable words, with some two syllable words which can be decoded.

Each story features an information page for teachers and parents to use with the child before beginning the story, to practise high frequency words, for example. We also really liked the ‘Letter Trace’ pages where a child can practise forming individual letters with their finger. Arrows indicate the correct letter formation, which is particularly helpful for parents.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Stories in the books at higher levels have gradually more complex sentences, broader vocabularies including visual clues in the illustrations to help with words that aren’t decodable. The story themes move further away from familiar experiences, vary punctuation more, and include words in capital letters for emphasis. Further advances throughout the bands include more dialogue, inference and extended descriptions. Gold and White bands (levels 9 and 10) have short chapters, a feature that we really like.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Maverick Publishing have certainly put a lot of thought into planning their Early Readers scheme. They have included excellent, free downloadable audio files for many of the stories. Children can follow animated text either on their own devices or in a class situation, on an interactive whiteboard. Having these is a useful resource, particularly for those who may need support with pronunciation because English is their second language.

For Pink and Red banded books, free activity sheets are available for each story. We felt that some of these were less useful, because they required young children to have a good knowledge of capital letters. In addition, some words were capitalised which aren’t normally capitalised such as Dog and Panda. We felt it was a shame that the typeface was different to the books in that they featured the more usual typeface of ‘a’ and ‘g’.

Early Readers children’s reading books, Maverick Publishing

Letter Trace and Quiz Example Pages


Another feature that we liked are the quizzes which are found in the higher-banded books, from Yellow (level 3) upwards. These are helpful to both teachers and parents as a check on a child’s understanding of the text.

All in all, we found the Early Readers guided reading scheme very appealing and we have no hesitation in recommending it. We look forward to seeing more books in the scheme which we understand will number 100 books, by May 2019.

The RRP of each book is £5.99. Find Maverick Early Readers titles in all good bookstores and online. Trade enquiries welcome via educational suppliers.

Disclosure: Topmarks was supplied with a selection of the Early Readers books by Maverick Publishing, free of charge for a fair and honest review, with no obligation.

Reading is fun! Teach Your Monster to Read

Special Offer! There’s a great promotion on for the learning app, Teach Your Monster to Read.

The team behind this super app game for helping children learn to read is having a promotion, as the app is now FREE for this week, from today until Sunday 30 Sept 2018. Yes, free, with nothing to pay after the initial download. (It’s not just a free trial!)

Teach Your Monster to Read app game, children's literacy

The game is BAFTA-nominated and has been played over over 60 million times, helping children learn to read worldwide. It was created by the Usborne Foundation, which is a charity whose mission is to help address issues of literacy and health by getting as many children reading as possible.

Teach Your Monster to Read app game, children's literacy

With one in five primary pupils in England leaving school without being able to read well, (according to The Reading Agency), Topmarks is right behind any learning resources to support literacy for young children.

Teach Your Monster to Read app, children's literacy

The app is available to play on iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire.
It perfectly complements different phonics schemes used in schools, with three game levels for differentiation and progression. Read more about what the game teaches on the game home page here.

Take a look from now until Sunday 30 Sept 2018 for your free download – it’ll stay free to play even after this time!

Get ready for National Poetry Day – coming soon!

This year’s National Poetry Day will be here before we know it, coming up on 4 October 2018 – another fabulous chance to celebrate performing, reading and writing poetry!

It’s a great chance to celebrate poetry with youngsters of all age groups, and the theme for 2018’s event is Change.

National Poetry Day 2018National Poetry Day

Find plenty of poems on the National Poetry Day site to kickstart your inspiration – we love ‘Caterpillar’ by Christina Rossetti… a perfect fit for the theme of Change, but also a super tie-in with your minibeast topics! Or why not choose your own favourite poems to add to the fun?

National Poetry Day
Don’t miss out on downloading the FREE teaching resources and tool kit, created especially for teachers to use in classrooms. There are great activities and lesson plans, plus posters to decorate your school.

National Poetry DayRemember to sign up for the National Poetry Day mailing list, to receive updates on news, offers and events.
Use the hashtag #NationalPoetryDay to share your poetry events and activities – Topmarks will be following all the social media fun, too!

Speak out Stay safe – NSPCC child safety campaign

Has your school received a visit from the NSPCC, encouraging children to seek help if they feel at risk or in danger? The charity’s ‘Speak out. Stay safe.’ programme is FREE!

Since April 2011 this campaign has seen visits by specially trained safeguarding volunteers to 80% of UK primary schools. In 2017/8 alone, the NSPCC’s School Service spoke to around 1.8million children, in locations from Cornwall to the Isle of Orkney, Scotland.

NSPCC child safeguarding programme 'Speak out. Stay safe.'
The team is keen to see the remaining 20% of schools signing up for the free visit that they’re entitled to! This programme is designed by the UK’s top children’s charity, to help prevent pupils suffering abuse or neglect, as they deliver vital child protection messages in a fun and age-appropriate way.

NSPCC child safeguarding programme 'Speak out. Stay safe.’

Photo by Tom Hull

One in five children has suffered some form of abuse or neglect. The ‘Speak out. Stay safe‘ programme continues its good work, with more school visits, and with a new nationwide TV ad campaign launching this week. Topmarks believes this is a great campaign to support our youngsters, so they understand different forms of abuse, recognise the signs and know how to protect themselves.
Karen Squillino, Head of the NSPCC Schools Service, says: “We are proud of our ‘Speak out. Stay safe.’ programme and believe it can make a massive difference to the lives of the primary school children we see all across the UK.”

The ‘Speak out. Stay safe.’ programme links directly to the curriculum, helping schools meet their statutory safeguarding requirements.
A
ssemblies are held for children aged 5-11, followed by a one-hour classroom workshop for years 5/6 (England and Wales) and P6/7 (Scotland and Northern Ireland). There is the option for assemblies to be delivered bilingually in Wales, and an adapted version of the programme is available for children with special education needs.
Plus, the NSPCC offers 
specialist resources, lesson plans and training to help embed the learning in the weeks after their visit.

NSPCC child safeguarding programme 'Speak out. Stay safe.’

Photo by Tom Hull

So don’t delay – click the link to make sure your primary school receives a ‘Speak out. Stay safe.’ session. Set a date to welcome the team to your school!
You can find out more about the NSPCC’s training resources for child safeguarding here.