UKLA: The UK Literacy Association

The UKLA Academic Book Award looks at books which the organisation feels have made a significant contribution to the teaching of English. This year's short list was announced in February and consists of some very interesting and relevant books.

The quickest read on the list is Trisha Lee's 'Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories'. Based on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, this text looks at the use of the 'Helicopter Stories' technique to improve children's literacy and communication skills. Full of examples from the author's own experience and advice and tips rooted in her personal practice, this is a useful and interesting guide to this technique.

Flying the flag for poetry is 'Making Poetry Happen: Transforming the Poetry Classroom'. This contains a collection of articles which offer a wealth of relevant research into teaching poetry across all age ranges. Useful for student, new and experienced teachers, this is an amazing bank of activities and ideas to promote and revitalise poetry and its place in the curriculum. There is a companion volume called 'Making Poetry Matter'. 

'Understanding Reading Comprehension Processes and Practices' is a fascinating and intelligent book which I am currently reading. I would argue that this is a must read for all teachers. Parts of the text convey messages that we have been shouting for years and it is wonderful to read:

'A visit to any good bookshop or library will confirm the fact that there is a vast number of children's books available. The only way to know whether these books might be suitable for the children we teach is to read them. One way around this is to pool the reading burden...'

Of course, JAB would argue strongly against the use of the word burden- 'pleasure' or 'treats' would fit far better in our minds!

The other three titles are still on my 'to read' list and so I am unable to comment in any detail.

They are:

Researching and Teaching Reading by Gabrielle Cliff Hodges

Becoming a Teacher of Reading by Margaret Perkins

Researching Literacy Lives: Building Communities Between Home and School by Teresa Cremin, Marilyn Mottram, Fiona Collins, Sacha Powell and Rose Drury

The winners of this award will be announced at the UKLA Conference- 

Literacy, Equality and Diversity: Bringing voices together

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July 2016

which is being held at the Mecure Hotel in Bristol. It would be great if as many of us as possible could attend.

Details of all the books and of the conference can be found on the UKLA website: