Julia Donaldson has created a series of children’s playlets designed to boost reading skills
Children’s Laureate and much loved author of The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson has launched a series of short plays with other well-known authors specifically designed to help improve reading skills and encourage children to enjoy reading. With many children thought to be put off reading as a ‘wooden’ activity it is hoped reading plays out loud while interacting with others will boost interest in reading and build confidence.
The ‘Bug Club Plays to Read’ include dramas about modern children as well as new versions of traditional tales, including The Billy Goats Gruff and a rhyming version of The Hare and the Tortoise, adapted by Donaldson to appeal to today’s young readers.
Each play has parts for six characters – the average reading-group size – and contains beautiful illustrations and unforgettable characters to engage kids and build their reading confidence.
Demands on children’s attention are much greater than ever before meaning it can at times be challenging to get them engaged with reading. Recent research has shown that more than three-quarters (77%) of teachers say that children’s attention spans are shorter than ever before in the classroom, on starting secondary school*. Plays present an alternative, fun and more interactive way of reading to help overcome this, and academic research has shown that they can build children’s fluency, encourage reading with expression, and enhance comprehension.
The plays were inspired by Julia’s own experiences of being a “parent helper” in her own son’s primary school.
Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate, said:
“These books are rooted in my own experiences. When helping to oversee a reading group with my eldest child I realised that sometimes when reading books children would read in a wooden way, and get bored easily when it wasn’t their turn.
“I hit on the idea of writing some very short and simple plays where they could all get involved. It worked a treat. The children loved having a part to read, and they started putting much more expression into the words. After one read-through we would swap the parts around, and that way any new vocabulary really sank in. Their reading came on in leaps and bounds.
“Best of all was the excitement the children in the reading group then derived from acting out their playlet to the rest of the class.”
There are a total of 36 plays in the series, perfect for both guided and independent reading. Each one is available as an interactive e-book, which features innovative software allowing a child to decide what role to play and the other parts are read by actors.
In addition to these playlets, Julia has also masterminded another series of six whole-class plays, based on popular picture books, including two of her own, Tiddler and Tyrannosaurus Drip. This series is called “Plays to Act”. These longer plays, ideal for school assemblies, also come with an e-book version which includes a song.
The books are published by leading learning company, Pearson, which launched a national literacy campaign in October 2012, Enjoy Reading, to help inspire children to develop a life-long love of reading.
Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said:
“Reading from an early age impacts directly on how well children do later on in school and these plays aim to spark an interest in reading in an exciting and novel new way.
“We were delighted to work with Julia Donaldson and some other great authors to create these original plays, which aim to instil a life-long love of reading for pleasure.”