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‘You’re all authors’ - Colinton Primary School’s Jeffrold Stories

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Children’s author Vivian French launched Reading Force activity at Colinton Primary School, Edinburgh, in March.

Vivian, who has written over 300 books, including The Cherry Pie Princess and Robe of Skulls, became an author later in life as she was told at school she was no good at writing!

At Colinton she told the children ‘You’re all authors,’ and guided them to create characters and conjure up their own story, asking what could happen next and giving pointers on what makes a good tale.

The youngsters came up with a wonderful idea about Jeffrold, an anxious tiger and were challenged to complete the story. Here are some of the fantastic stories written by Colinton children…

With special thanks to Vivian French and Louise Hill. 







THE PAZZAZ PIZZA! by Sadie Adams P7pazzaz-pizza

TILLY AND TOM’S PIZZA WEDDING GONE WRONG by Jessica Johnson P4 tilly-and-tommy


THE LOST FOX by Ella Gordon P6 the-lost-fox


MEL THE SQUIRREL AND THE MISSING NUTS by Kemu P5 mel-squirrel-nuts





Spring & Summer Recommended Reads

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Ages 4 to 7


What’s Next Door?
by Nicola O’Byrne

Interactive book which children step into, as they take part in the story and enter new environments from stormy seas to hot deserts and icy lands.


My First Mog 123 by Judith Kerr

Learn to count with the very lovable Mog!



Max Campion and the Great Race Car Robbery
by Alexander McCall Smith

When Max finds an old car with his surname on the bonnet – Champion – he discovers his grandfather used to make some of the best cars…and race them! That is until his ideas book was stolen. Can Max get back what was lost?



Ages 7 to 11

Bright-StormBrightstorm by Vashti Hardy

Twins Maudie and Arthur Brightstorm are left alone when their father dies on an expedition to the South Pole. He is accused of breaking the explorers code and disgraced. The twins are determined to clear his name and run away on the sky-ship Aurora to do so, and embark on an extraordinary voyage of discovery beyond their wildest dreams.



to-the-edge-of-the-wordTo the Edge of the World by Julia Green

Jamie lives on an island in the Outer Hebrides, and he loves its wild beauty. The island is also home to Mara, a wild and fearless spirit. When she sets out to sail to St Kilda, an island at the edge of the world, Jamie goes too. A story of friendship and adventure.




the-chocolate-factory-ghostThe Chocolate Factory Ghost by David O’Connell and Claire Powell

This is a rags to riches story with ghosts and mystery thrown in for good measure. Archie learns he is heir to the McBudge Fudge and Confectionary Company. One problem – no one knows the secret ingredient that makes the Mcbudge Fudge so delicious. Can Archie solve the clues left by his uncle to find out?



Ages 11 to 14

MaisieThe Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge

Maisie should be celebrating her 10th birthday but her family has disappeared and her house seems to be floating in a black void. Hard to comprehend – except Maisie is a science genius. At the edge of the black hole she manages to contact her teenage sister, Lily, the only person who can help her. A mind-boggling and moving story.



good-day-for-climbing-treesA Good Day for Climbing Trees by Jaco Jacobs

Set in Cape Town, it’s the holidays and Marnus is bored, fed up of being teased by his older brother and pushed around by his little brother. Then he meets Leila and is drawn into her campaign to save a tree in the local park, and camps out in its branches. A story of standing up for what you believe in.




You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed

This is an empowering guide to help children build their resilience and fulfil their potential. It uses examples of successful people from Mozart to Serena Williams to show that success is earned rather than given. Practical and insightful guide.



 Ages 14 to 18  

have-i-lost-my-wayI Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

This is a heart-wrenching powerful Young Adult story exploring loss, love and discovery. The story is told over one day, with flashbacks to the past to understand what has brought the characters to this moment in time.



out-of-the-blueOut of the Blue by Sophie Cameron 

Across the world angel-like beings are falling from the sky. Apocalyptic frenzy follows sightings of them. Meanwhile, a fallen angel named Teacake helps heal Jaya’s grief after the sudden loss of her mother. A charming debut brimming with humanity and heart.




Savage Island by Bryony Pearce

Five friends enter a contest on a private island to win a £1 million prize, and find themselves in a gruesome fight for survival. They must solve riddles and locate geocaches on the island, but soon realise there is more to the competition than they had been led to believe.



We’d love to hear what your favourite books are. If you send us a review of a book you've enjoyed reading using this link (it doesn't have to be one of the above titles) we’ll post it on the Reading Force website and Facebook page.

Happy Reading! 



A trip down memory lane - my childhood Army home

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Emma old quarter Wilts380x380Hello Reading Force families!  
I'm Emma, I'm a Pad Brat and I write blogs for Reading Force about reading and Forces life. 

Last month I spontaneously decided to visit my old quarter in Wiltshire. The first thing to note is something exclusive to Forces children – our houses are secret! Emmas-old-home-map120x180Yes, try searching your house on google maps, often they can’t be found. Take a look at this picture of my old house:

It was a quiet Saturday morning when I arrived, and I entered the area with trepidation. The houses were not on a barracks but I was still slightly concerned I may get in trouble for entering MOD property without permission!

I carried on regardless, gripping my ID and my phone in my hand in case I needed them. I turned the corner to see my old house and with some luck, out of all the gardens, the only one with children playing in was mine! I walked over to introduce myself to the two children, a ten year old girl who lived in the house, her boy best friend who lived next door, and their parents. In typical Forces fashion, they invited me inside to see how much (and how little) the house had changed.

Seeing inside, I was flushed with memories, from the dining room where we had our first home computer, to the shed where we stored our bikes every evening after playing out with our friends. The feelings were bittersweet – I had the happiest childhood, where there were always friends nearby and we felt safe and loved by the community. I longed for it in that moment, but then I looked at my house’s young, new occupant and the boy next door and I was so pleased that the Armed Forces community are still raising their children to be friendly, safe and loved.

After the tour, I thanked the family and left them to enjoy their day and continued to wander around the area and through to the local village. What struck me most from my visit was that back when I was posted from the area in 2000 I remember feeling very sad that I hadn’t done enough there – that there was still so much left to explore, but as an adult I managed to walk around the entire area, and the local village in a day! It just goes to show that just because you leave somewhere, doesn’t mean it’s forever, there’s always more time to explore if you really want to.

My visit got me thinking of books about nostalgia and growing, so here’s a list of my favourite books about growing up:


Now We Are Six by A A Milne

A lovely poem that appeals to adults as much as children. The illustrations by E H Shephard are gorgeous too.






The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

Perhaps not everyone’s idea of growing up, but Pinocchio the puppet does grow up by becoming a real boy. There’s more to this tale than the Disney film, read it to see for yourself.


Peter Pan
by J M Barrie

What’s better than growing up? Not growing up! The book is a great bedtime story and really sparks the imagination.




For older readers:



Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume

The definitive coming of age novel for young girls talking about puberty, friendship and culture.






Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume

Another Blume novel, but this time focussing on a boy’s experience of growing up. Despite the fact I am a girl, I enjoyed both the boy’s book and the girl’s book growing up and think both books can be read by both gender!


That's all for now.




Annington's support enables pastoral support in Scotland

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Fiona Maxwell 400x358

We are very pleased to announce that Annington, the owners of the MOD's Married Quarters Estate, is supporting Reading Force for the next three years.



James Hopkins, CEO of Annington, says:
“We were impressed by the support Reading Force is giving those Service families dealing with the challenges of separation and by the simple premise that talking about a book helps parents and children remain connected.”

The funding is being used to support a Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland, who will visit schools attended by Service children, and tri-service Welfare offices and settings across Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Lossiemouth and Faslane.

Our new team member, RF Ambassador Fiona Maxwell (photo) will meet and talk with teachers and pastoral staff about the ways Reading Force can support the needs of Service children, and how the scheme can be utilised in a variety of circumstances – whether a family are at home together, separated by a deployment, readjusting and re-bonding following a deployment, or have recently moved home or school.

For the last year RF Ambassador Pam Parish has been visiting pastoral personnel in schools and settings across England, and the face-to-face meetings have been highly beneficial and raised awareness of Reading Force and its free resources to families. We wanted to extend this impact to Scotland.

James Hopkins: “When the charity asked us to help them fund the costs of an Ambassador for Scotland, an important area for  the charity’s development strategy, we were delighted to help.”

Our new Ambassador for Scotland, Fiona Maxwell, was an Army wife for 34 years and is a mother of three with ten moves of home under her belt. She fully understands the challenges that can arise during separations, new postings, mobility and resettling. She is also a keen reader, and one-time garrison librarian, and books have been a constant throughout her and her three daughters’ military family life.

Fiona: “Being the Reading Force Ambassador allows me to promote my love of, and belief in the importance and lasting benefits of, shared family reading to Services families across Scotland. This matters to me because shared reading was a fundamental part of my family’s life when my children were growing up – and continues to connect us all.

I am looking forward to building lasting and co-operative relationships with schools, unit welfare offices and other organisations involved in the educational, emotional and social well-being of Service children and to raising awareness of Reading Force and its positive outcomes throughout the Forces community and support services. I hope to encourage as many Service families, schools and community groups as possible to experience the fun and merits of taking part.”

Annington Ltd’s support is also contributing to the printing of the special Reading Force scrapbooks for all Service children.

Dr. Alison Baverstock, founder and Director of Reading Force, says: “Reading Force is a simple way of keeping parents involved with home life and children connected to their parents. We appreciate Annington's support very much and are delighted to be working with them to promote the emotional stability of Forces families.”


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