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Children's illustrator visits North Yorkshire schools

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Lynne-Chapman-in-class350x220Hello, I’m Annabel Hall, a Service Pupils' Champion in North Yorkshire. 

The autumn term got off to a great start with the visit of award winning illustrator, Lynne Chapman, and Reading Force staff to two of our schools in North Yorkshire, Alanbrooke Community Primary School and Dishforth Airfield Primary School.

Lynne kept the children riveted by her energetic and entertaining book readings and conducted drawing workshops to teach the children (and staff!) some basic skills in illustrating emotions - who would have thought that a few carefully positioned lines have such an impact in conveying the feeling of the characters!

Lynne’s forte is colourful illustrations of animals doing silly things and the children were enthralled and entertained by the stories and pictures.  Lynne also gave a workshop to an older age group and explained how she came to be an illustrator, what her typical day is like and the process of writing, illustrating and getting a book published. Children and adults all learnt something new during this creative and interesting day.

LynneChapman-JulieLyon-DishforthAirfieldSchool-350x262The majority of children in both schools are from Service families and there were lots of happy faces when all present took a new book and a scrapbook home with them.  Lynne stayed on after school to do a book signing and meet some of the mums and dads and answer questions. Thank you to Reading Force for coming to North Yorkshire- we had a great day!

Annabel Hall

Photo: Julie Lyon, Headteacher at Dishforth Airfield Primary School with Children's Illustrator, Lynne Chapman.

About Lynne: 



The Royal British Legion has awarded a grant to Reading Force so it can reach many more Service families and offer them Reading Force. The North Yorkshire schools events with Lynne Chapman was made possible from this grant. Read more about the Legion's support to Reading Force.




Three cheers for Reading Force!

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Susie-Buchanan-sharing-book380x360Books are an important part of family life for RAF mum and writer, Susie Buchanan. Susie says books have helped the family through some tough times, so when she heard about Reading Force she signed up for scrapbooks and books for her daughter and son. This is Susie’s blog about her family’s experience of doing Reading Force…

By Susie Buchanan

I came across a feature about Reading Force in Just for Families magazine and thought it was such a lovely idea to bring families closer together through the pleasure of reading. Whether you’re all at home or apart, having something we could discuss and share opinions on would be a pleasant distraction from the usual chaos of life.

I told my daughter about it and we looked at the recommended reads on the website. At 11 years old, Chloe is an avid reader and ‘swallows’ books in a matter of days. Reading has always been an important part of our family life. We’ve read to both our children since they were babies, finding it a wonderful time to relax and bond at the end of the day. Chloe mainly reads to herself now, so sharing books has become a thing of the past. Joining Reading Force has given us the opportunity to share a book together again, and it wasn’t until we started, that I realised just how much I’d missed it.

Being a dedicated animal lover, Chloe was drawn to Gill Lewis’ Moon Bear in the Young Readers 11+ section. We completed the 'Join today' form on the website, putting a little note in the comments section about which book she’d like to read - it was all so easy! We waited for the postman to deliver our eagerly anticipated parcel but didn’t have to wait long. Chloe was delighted when she opened the welcome letter, scrapbook and stickers along with a copy of Moon Bear. Let the reading begin!

The wonderful thing about Reading Force, is there is no set way of doing it, you do what suits your family. Due to the content of Moon Bear (it deals with the distressing subject of bile bear farming in South East Asia), we decided to share the book as mum and daughter, whilst her little brother and Dad shared a book from the 7-8 age group – Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face by John Dougherty. Snuggled up with blankets and pillows, we took it in turns to read aloud.

Susie-Buchanan-Moon-Bear150x230Here are Chloe’s thoughts on Moon Bear:

Moon Bear:  This book is about a boy who is forced to work on a bear bile farm for money, where he makes a special bond with a bear, who he promises to return to the wild. This book has inspired me to do something about bear bile farming when I am older. I loved this book so much I bought the whole book set. I would recommend this book for an older age group though as parts of this book are quite upsetting. (Chloe)

Chloe liked the Moon Bear facts at the end of the story and suggestions on where you can get more information on bear farming and what you can do to help.

The story alerted her to a distressing form of animal cruelty and at first, I was worried this would upset her, but instead it has inspired her to work with animals in the future to help make their lives better. She has gone on to read all of Gill Lewis’ books about animals which are equally inspiring.

Thank you, Reading Force, for providing the opportunity for some quality mum and daughter time and enabling Chloe’s love of reading to grow even further.

Photo: Susie Buchanan and her daughter, Chloe, aged 11


Reading Force Schools Ambassador Pam

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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

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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.

Miriam Hornbill Childdrawing 200x151

Miriam Hornbill BareBear 200x150

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.

Miriam Hornbill makingRabbits 625x243 







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
Miriam Hornbill Childrenreading 200x150

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

GroupWelcomeSign 280x194


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.


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