Literacy and Reading

At Penrice, reading is of paramount importance to succeed in all aspects of education and life beyond school. Consequently, we are proud to read in tutor periods three times a week. A fluent adult reader will always read to the students. This allows students to follow the story, as well as modelling key aspects of reading such as pace and inflection. Students follow line by line in their own books by tracking with a reading ruler. Not only does this increase the linguistic knowledge, cultural capital and hinterland of our students, but teaches a love of reading; encourages new insights into other worlds; and helps to foster the respect we need to have for other people and the living world around us.

Texts have been selected carefully to ensure that the range of narratives available address age-appropriate themes, but offer a high level of challenge too. We invite parents to regularly engage with their child about the books being read. If a book has been of particular interest there are links to others like it below.

Year 7 Reading

A Kind of Spark – by Ellie McNicol
A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Along with kindness, the book is rich with other themes friendship, courage and self-belief, born from McNicol’s own experiences of neurodiversity and her commitment to seeing greater representation in children’s books.

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief – by Rick Riordan
When he finds out his father’s true identity, Percy must redefine who he is; he must decide whether to take a path of bitterness and disillusionment, or set aside his resentment of his absent father Poseidon and try to escape his heritage. As well as having a cultural capital wealth of Greek mythology, The Lightning Thief explores issues such as learning disabilities, family problems and negative self-image.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry – by Mildred Taylor
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry describes the success of the Logan family in maintaining their hold of their farmland and in their fight against racism. The novel teaches the importance of ethical independence, dignity and feminism in the time period of Jim Crow segregation, Black landownership, sharecropping, the Great Depression and lynching.

Chinese Cinderella – by Adeline Yen Mah’s
Chinese Cinderella is the perfect title for Adeline Yen Mah’s compelling autobiography in which, like the fairy-tale maiden, her childhood was ruled by a cruel stepmother. The book is an amazing snapshot of a radically different culture showing, the cruelty of humanity but the bravery of children and the rewards for not giving up and ultimate success in the face of adversity.

Recommended further reading
The 1000 Year Old Boy – by Ross Welford
Stargirl – by Jerry Spinelli
One – by Sarah Crossan

Year 8 Reading

Stone Cold – by Robert Swindells
Stone cold is the heart-breaking account of a youth forced into homelessness with two contrasting narratives representing an ever-present threat to the homeless and vulnerable in society. Stone cold addresses the public indifference to the problem of homelessness, violence in society, but also the power of friendship.

Lark – by Anthony McGowan
Lark is an adventure story of two woefully ill-equipped teenage boys, and their old Jack Russell terrier who go for a walk on the North Yorkshire Moors. On a deeper level it shows the unshakable love between two brothers, one of them with special needs, after enduring family break-up, poverty, bullying and cruelty.

Girl. Boy. Sea. – by Chris Vik
Chris Vick’s novel delves deep into the might and majesty of the unpredictable ocean, the strength of an unlikely friendship between a British boy and a Berber girl and their will to survive against all the odds. Moral dilemmas, spiritual guidance and human cruelty underpin this novel with a deep message of the importance friendship and resilience.

Adventures of a Young Naturalist – by David Attenborough
Brimming with typical zest and inspiration, this memoir takes readers on the trail of Attenborough’s first adventure, Zoo Quest, and the journey that launched a national institution. He reminds us of the important need to respect, cherish and protect our natural world.

Welcome to Nowhere – by Elizabeth Laird
Welcome to Nowhere is a powerful and beautifully written story about the life of one family caught up in civil war and the struggles and pain of being a refugee. Laird brings the fate of the victims of the Syrian conflict to life for young readers, both to inform and to encourage sympathy and understanding. The novel is not only eye-opening, important and topical, but a vivid, emotionally involving, nail-biting read an is effective call to action.

The Gifted the Talented and Me – by William Sutcliffe
A fantastically, cringe-inducingly hilarious book all about being true to yourself, Sutcliffe’s rambunctious YA novel skewers vain and vacuous teens with merciless relish. Its emphasise the importance of self-acceptance and the trails and tribulations of being a pubescent teenage boy.

Recommended further reading
Bock – by Anthony McGowan
When the World Ends – by Geraldine McCaughrean
Bog Child – by Siobhan Dowd

Year 9 Reading

Noughts and Crosses – by Malorie Blackman
Noughts & Crosses is set in a world where one group of people are treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin – an apartheid society. A love story with a parallel history of our own world dealing with the concepts of race, discrimination, loyalty, respect and that each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make out time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.

The Poet X – by Elizabeth Acevedo
Trading prose for poetry, The Poet X dives deep into the themes of religion and sexuality through the journal of fifteen-year-old Xiomara, struggling against her mother’s stringent Catholicism her own feelings of guilt discovering her own body. The novel deals with the negative sexualisation of women, the power of language and speaking your own truth.

The Hate you Give – by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends; the uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping novel about the struggle for justice, and equal respect for all.

Recommended further reading
Looking for Alaska – by John Green
The colours that Blind – by Rutendo Tavengerwei

Utilising the Penrice Library (The Core)

We actively encourage students to visit the school library during breaks or after school. We have a wide variety of books available to borrow, all free of charge. Below is a link to our suggested reading lists, grouping books by themes and interests.