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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.”



Summer holiday reads for all ages

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Need some inspiration for books to share during your summer holidays?

Read on to discover more…

Ages 4 to 7


What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday
 by Julia Donaldson 

A brilliant new adventure for the clever ladybird, who with the help of some very noisy zoo animals must interrupt her holiday to stop the Queen’s crown being stolen. 


Gracie Grabbit and the Tiger by Helen Stephens 

Gracie is going to the zoo with her dad, but there’s a problem – her dad’s a robber! She must stop him spoiling her day, and luckily a friendly tiger is on hand to help out.


Are We There Yet?
By Dan Santat 

A boy is travelling to see his grandma and the journey is taking forever. But suddenly he has travelled back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. Has he arrived or is he dreaming? Hugely enjoyable, original and inventive.


Ages 7 to 11

The Bolds on Holiday
 by Julian Clary

The hairiest family in Teddington go camping in Cornwall with their extended family. The Bolds have a very big secret – will they be able to keep it hidden while away? This is an hilarious page-turner.



My Evil Twin is a Supervillain
by David Solomons

If a twin sounds fun, think again, this one is super-powered and from another dimension. This new adventure from the 'My Brother Is A Superhero' series is very funny and imaginative.



Dragon Rider
by Cornelia Funke

A magical adventure which takes readers on the journey of a lifetime. Jump on the back of the dragon and be taken to places humans cannot see.


Grandpa’s Great Escape
by David Walliams

Jack’s Grandpa wears his slippers to the supermarket and often doesn’t remember Jack’s name, but he can still take to the skies in a Spitfire and save the day. Beautiful story about the bond between a boy and his beloved Grandpa.


Ages 11 to 14

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth
by Katherine Woodfine 

Sophie and Lil put on their disguises, follow a trail of secrets, and mingle in high society to solve a case. Will they catch London’s most dangerous criminal?



Face the Music
By Mariane Levy

Katie Cox never meant to become a popstar but now her first concert is just days away. She found her voice online, but can she face the music in the real world?


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! 


5 schools and counting

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Emma-blogger400x370Hello Reading Force families!  I'm Emma, I'm a Pad Brat and I will be writing a regular blog about reading and Forces life. 

I was relatively lucky, I only went to three primary schools, one secondary school and one college. Friends of mine have been to fifteen!

As an adult I’ve worked in lots of schools running writing and drama workshops and worked as a school librarian and I’m grateful to the resilience that my Forces life gave me - I’m sure every Forces child knows the experience of moving to a new school and the challenges we face, but many do not realise the character building this gives us. It may not seem it when you’re younger, but as an adult all those times of being ‘the new kid’ will be of great benefit as you are able to talk to anyone and everyone having been so used to being thrown into the unknown.

With that in mind, here’s a list of my favourite books about school to help you adjust, to distract you when you’re feeling nervous, or just for the pleasure of reading if you just like school stories:



The Naughtiest Girl in School 
by Enid Blyton

A classic Blyton tale best shared with nostalgic parents and their naughty children! Despite a girl (Elizabeth Allen) being the main character, this book is suitable for boys and girls alike, as Elizabeth causes mischief and havoc in an aim to get expelled from school.

horrid henrys stinkbomb-160x225

Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb
by Francesca Simon

 A modern naughty child now, the Horrid Henry books are tons of fun and this school-based story is no exception as Henry turns to stinkbombs to win a competition.


Harry-Potter-Philosophers Stone-160x230


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 
by JK Rowling 

A twist on the school story: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is full of adventure and intrigue as the main character, Harry Potter, goes from living in a cupboard under the stairs, to living at a boarding school with his best friends, Hermione and Ron, fighting against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Compare it with the film and choose which you like best.


The Worst Witch
by Jill Murphy

Before Harry Potter enrolled at Hogwarts another school of magic existed: Miss Cackle’s Academy. Mildred Hubble tries her best but always seems to get things wrong! A lively and interesting tale best read before bed to give magical dreams.
Read it now before the Netflix/CBBC series starts.

Night School
by C J Daugherty

Based around the idea of real-life British politicians who attended the same university, Daugherty’s book is filled with mystery, intrigue and excitement about a boarding school with a secret society of elite students – just like every school, right? 


That’s all for now!



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