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Reading Force Schools Ambassador Pam

  • Published in Blog

Ambassador Pam Marlborough Infants210x280Hello Reading Force families! I’m Pam, a proud and happy member of the Reading Force team and my role is Schools Ambassador.

My role is primarily to visit schools to talk to teachers, pastoral staff and parent groups about Reading Force and the support we can offer to Service families. So far this year I have visited schools in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire - where next, I wonder?

Visits to schools involve talking to a Headteacher, a Forces Liaison Officer or sometimes a SENCO who has been given school responsibility for work with Service families. I start by giving a bit of background on how Alison Baverstock came to found Reading Force, and move on to describe the ethos and aims of the scheme. This is very straightforward as everyone can understand how enjoyable it is for families to read together, share stories and poems and discover new books. The scrapbooks are key as they act as a permanent keepsake of a particular deployment or training exercise. In other words, by reading together each family can create its own special memories. Brilliant!

Teachers sometimes think of Reading Force as a process that has to be done in school time, but when I explain that the scrapbooks are intended for children to use at home, as a way of spending time as a family and staying close to the parent who is away, they begin to understand that our focus on family reading has real benefits for school achievement too.

I encourage schools to collect in the completed scrapbooks and send them to Reading Force to enter the bi-annual Scrapbook Competition, as it is not always easy for parents to get to a Post Office. This ensures that every child will then receive their certificate and free book for taking part, and will also have their scrapbook returned to them to keep.

Once a school has agreed to take part in Reading Force, we then talk about how best to launch the scrapbooks. Some schools are happy to do this themselves, maybe at a Parent’s Evening or special event such as World Book Day, whereas others invite me back to talk to parents about the scheme. This is great as I can answer any questions, promote local public libraries as a way of borrowing several copies of the same book, and explain the concept of the family reading group.

Some mums and dads think it all has to be very serious, but when I tell them that the group can involve their children’s friends, as well as family members in different areas of the country, they begin to see it as a much more fun and sociable activity. Parents also love the number of ways there are to read and chat together about a book: over the phone, Skype or Facetime, and then postcards, e-blueys, drawings and photos can be stuck in the scrapbooks.

Oh, and some schools do give form prizes or house points for the most original scrapbooks – why not check out if your school is registered to receive Reading Force scrapbooks for families and ask for your free scrapbook. If they are not yet registered, encourage them to get involved and get in touch. If your school has a significant number of Service children on roll, I may be able to visit. Please let us know and get in touch – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Happy reading everyone!

Pam Parish


Reading Across the World - Miriam Moss

  • Published in Blog

StorySession3 250x190The Reading Force team asked me if I’d be available to work with forces children at Hornbill School in Brunei in March this year. As a forces child myself, I was delighted to hear more about Reading Force; how it encourages families to read together, talk about books and fill in scrapbooks about the books they’ve shared. Families do this together at home and when a parent is away on deployment or exercise.

After our 16-hour flight to Brunei, we - Alison Baverstock and Elaine Boorman from Reading Force and I - were met at the airport and whisked off to our hotel by Terri Turton, the trip’s organiser at Hornbill School. The next day she returned to take us on a boat trip. We visited the floating village in Bandar and searched up river in mangrove swamps for crocodiles and proboscis monkeys. Tom Palmer, the other UK-based author, flew in that evening.

Hornbill School (OFSTED outstanding) is in the centre of the HQ Brunei Garrison community, BFPO 11. It caters for a wonderful mix of children, as it is the result of a very successful merger in 2003 of the Seria Service Children’s School and the Gurkha Children’s English School. While we were visiting, many of the fathers were away on exercise in Kenya.

The school day at Hornbill starts early and finishes at 1.30pm before it gets too hot. Teapot 160x178So we were collected at 7am each morning, and driven past white egrets hunting for frogs on grass verges, past the teapot roundabout, to Hornbill School.

On the first day, we were greeted royally by being given a bindi and a Nepalese silk scarf, and entertained by a wonderful drumming session. WelcomePeaceGarden 450x162Then we were shown round the stunning school grounds which included the ‘Peace Garden’ full of palm trees, cloud-shaped bougainvillea and frangipani bushes. 

My role as a picture book author was to inspire the children from Nursery to Year 2 with interactive reading sessions including songs and roleplay, and writing workshops.

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In this class, the children drew their own story, following the pattern in my Bare Bear story that we had just shared.

In another class I shared a story about Billy Bear and his favourite toy rabbit. As you can see, on that day the teachers and children were all dressed up as characters from books! After the story the children designed their own rabbits.

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Miriam Hornbill JungleSong 300x195I finished the week with a percussion extravaganza in the hall with the whole of Year 2, based around my book Junglesong
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By the end of the week, every child in the school had had two sessions with either Tom Palmer or me, and had also been given one of our books by Reading Force. Here are some children reading Doctor Molly’s Magic Medicine Case

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My days at Hornbill were both full and colourful, and I had an amazing time working with all the wonderful children and the warm, dedicated staff.

Thank you so much for asking me to come with you Reading Force!

Miriam Moss

Miriam Moss is an award winning author of over 75 books, including 30 picture books, poetry and short stories, with wide experience of working creatively with children and adults throughout the UK and abroad. Miriam's latest picture book is 'Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case' (Walker Books).

Picture above: Miriam Moss (far right) standing next to Alison Baverstock (Reading Force founder), RF team member Elaine Boorman, and children's author, Tom Palmer.



Schools are turning Red, White & Blue this October

  • Published in Events

RWB Day image 300x222 On Friday 9th October 2015 pupils in schools all over the UK will be showing their support for soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families, by dressing up in Red, White & Blue and donating £1 each.

Red, White & Blue Day is held every year and in 2015 will be taking place on 9th October, or any day of your choice during October & November. This year the event will feature specially created lesson plans and films which tell the story of how the RAF beat back the Luftwaffe from the skies of England during September 1940. The Battle of Britain also saw the start of "The Blitz", the German bombing campaign that attacked many cities across the UK.

If your school isn’t registered yet it’s not too late to get involved! Simply go to to register.

Make your mark

- As well as dressing up schools can mark the day with special activities. One school in Kent asked pupils to save their copper coins throughout the summer and then built a wall of pennies in the assembly hall. The wall raised a lot of money for the campaign.
- Get an insight into Service life and invite a member of the Armed Forces or a veteran to come and speak at your school. Some soldiers have brought their kit into schools and asked teachers to try and carry it.
- Have a school bake-off and cake sale in your school and invite parents for coffee and cake.
- Make up your own fantastic fund-raising idea!

Red, White & Blue Day is jointly run by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, RAF Benevolent Fund and Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, working together for every Service family. The money raised is split between the three charities.

For more information, to register, and receive a Welcome Pack, go to:

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On the Road with Reading Force

  • Published in Events

Tom signing books 200x150Children’s author, Tom Palmer, blogs about why he is so pleased to be part of the Reading Force Roadshow.

There is no way I could have written my Rugby Academy series of books without the help of the children and teachers at Albrighton Primary School and the RAF Cosford base where many of those children’s parents are based.

My problem was I wanted to write books about children whose mums and dads were in the forces – but I knew nothing about what those children’s lives would be like. There was only one way I was going to be able to find out about their lives. And that was by meeting forces children and their parents.

Albrighton Primary set that up for me. They sat me down in their staff room with some of their RAF parents and – later – their children. I was able to listen to stories and think about things I could never have imagined. I’ll never forget that afternoon. The families I spoke to were honest and passionate about their lives, about the pros and cons of being forces families, the highs and the lows. Their sense of belonging to each other and their sense of duty to the rest of us.

One thing that stuck with me is the difficulties there are communicating with each other when the serving parents were away. Sometimes on the phone. Sometimes on Skype. It is hard to find the right time to talk – and hard to find the right things to talk about.

What do you say when you know your parent or partner might be in harm’s way and that they can’t tell you about it anyway? It is impossible to imagine. And imagining things is something I am supposed to be good at.

At around the same time I was working in Albrighton Primary School I read in a magazine about Reading Force, a charity that encourages forces children and parents to read together. I knew as soon as I read about them that we would work together.

I am very lucky. I have a job that means that I can read with my daughter four or five nights a week. Sitting with her. The other two or three nights I am away visiting schools and libraries. But in hotels, not in harm’s way. I know how lucky I am to see her most days and to be there with her and her mother most nights. We have a very easy relationship because I am there most of the time.   

This spring I will be teaming up with Reading Force to tour our Reading Force Roadshow to ten schools on or next to Army, Navy and RAF bases in the UK. From North Yorkshire to Plymouth. I’ll be joining Jim Sells – literacy guru and former Rifleman – to perform our Football Reading Game, then host a school fete with a literacy theme for forces families, where they will be able to sign up for Reading Force, to get reading tips and receive a free copy of one of my books.

The idea is to help the schools with the work that they already do to find even more ways for the children – and their parents – to enjoy reading for pleasure.

That I can help contribute like this is hugely satisfying for me. I am proud to be working with Reading Force because I admire the work they do very much. And I’ll be proud to be helping the ten schools to enthuse their pupils with their reading.

Tom Palmer is a children’s author. He is published by Barrington Stoke and Puffin Books. As well as working with Reading Force he is the Writer in Residence at the RAF Museums.


Reading Force is free to all Service families, Reservists, Veterans and their friends and family, at home and away.


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