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Reading at Crookhorn

Reading Interventions

With reading being a fundamental skill, not only in English, but in all subjects, we have been working hard as a College to develop reading skills, whilst promoting a love of reading. This has come in many different strands, which are highlighted below.

The first has come in the form of our successful reading Intervention, run by Miss Woods. Once a week across a half-term, students from all across the College are given the opportunity to develop skills in decoding and comprehension within a nurturing environment, where students can also discuss the types of texts they enjoy and discover a new enjoyment in reading.  

So far this academic year, we have seen students make great gains in their reading age and ability, whilst also a bringing about a new buzz and excitement for reading, putting them in good stead academically, but also for later in life! Our students make an average of 18 months of reading progress over the half-term's intervention.

DEAR time is Drop Everything And Read time 

We value literacy and reading for pleasure. DEAR time is a national initiative with the purpose to remind everyone how important reading is. Every day (apart from Tuesdays) students in Years 7, 8 and 9 have ten minutes to read their own material and settle down ready for the day. Tutors spend time with each student across two weeks to make sure they are familiar with their individual literacy skills, goals and interests. The library is available for students to find a book they genuinely enjoy and that matches their literacy comfort level. We also have access to an e-book platform, as well as a multitude of extracts and short stories hosted on our online learning platform, Itslearning, but use of technology is left to the tutor’s discretion during DEAR time.  

All Year 7 and 8 students are provided with a book to keep before Christmas each year to help provide them with reading materials. This is funded completely by the College. They get to choose their book from the offered selection, and can make use of the library swap shop to work their way through the whole list of offerings, or to find one that they enjoy more.

The 2024/25 selection is:

The College Reading Canon

What's it all about?

Read and review 16 (out of a possible 25) books from the College Reading Canon to earn rewards, prizes, and badges! 

We have put together a selection of varied books that we strongly recommend all students engage with. They cover a huge variety of topics, styles, and genres that appeal to different age ranges. The students have all five years of their time at Crookhorn to complete this challenge and learn more about their own reading preferences. It’s never too late, or too early, to start!  

We also offer a book swap for any students who own a copy of the Reading Canon books. Once the student has finished their own copy and submitted their review on Itslearning, they can go into the library and swap their (good condition) title for a different one of the 25. This means they can try different genres and really find out what they enjoy reading, without breaking the bank! 

We have had 281 successful reviews since the launch last year and 139 since September 2023. A quarter of our Year 7 cohort has taken part this year, and we have presented 32 Reading Canon badges!

As an extra incentive, we are also offering a ClassCharts reward alternative, if they would prefer to only read the e-book versions that we also have available, or if they end up with multiple copies. 

How many will you read? 

Reading Canon - student book reviews

Unboxed by Non Pratt

There were five friends: Alix, Zara, Ben, Dean and Millie. They all meet at their old school to keep the promise they made; to open a memory box they made when they were younger. The only thing was, was that Millie passed away from stomach cancer during the 5-year time period. When all of them arrive, they notice Zara brought her boyfriend which was a slight distraction, but they went along with him, and he didn’t really interfere too much. They all help each other to the point when Alix and Dean finally climb onto the roof and try to get the box. After many struggles, they manage to get the box which lay in one of the ventilation bricks. All is fine till the police shows up to the old school...

My favourite part of the book was when they opened up each of their letters. This is because it was quite interesting and amusing to see what they wrote 5 years ago at the age of 13! It uncovered a few secrets that had yet to be shared and once Millie’s letter came around, it became emotional...

The main character was Alix; she had a very special connection with Millie. Before Millie died, Alix, Millie and Zara used to be in a very close friendship trio where most and even all secrets were to be told to each other. Alix isn’t the most emotional person you would meet but something like talking about Millie may set her off crying. Alix is probably one of my favourite characters because not only do I know the most about her, but she is very passionate about the things she loves and cares most about in life.

Bella, Year 7 student





MAUS by Art Spiegelman

It is a good book which tells the story of a polish Jew during the Holocaust. This book not only tells the story of Auschwitz but if how life just before, just after and decades later was for the survivor. 10/10

This book tells the story of a cartoonist (the author) interviewing his Jewish father about how life during the Holocaust was as a polish Jew. He describes the punishments, diseases, living conditions and so much more. It is action packed with escapes, being hidden, betrayed and shows how few Jews make it out of Auschwitz and the other concentration camps.

My favourite part of MAUS was when Vladek and his wife could send messages to each other with the help of a friend. I particularly like this part because it shows how nice the Jews were, contrary to hope the national socialists (Nazis) presented them as. This is an act of defiance of the Nazis and pure hated of having a husband and wife not able to speak to each other, possibly forever.

Awesome book, awesome format, would read/read more of this style/more by this author again.


Callum, Year 8 student


Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

Martyn Pig is about a boy called Martyn Pig. His mum left when he was little, and his dad doesn’t really act like a dad…he’s an alcoholic. His life consists of looking after himself, cleaning up after his dad, looking after the house and most shockingly of all; he has to look after his dad. He missed out on his childhood and things only worsened. One accident changed everything. One lie led to another…and his world was flipped into something completely new.

My favourite part in the book was at the end, where everything was explained and justified in a way, but there were always more questions than answers (like it is the whole way through the book). This is because it completely changed the book from a story to an almost professional entry which made the book even more interesting. I also liked it because it told us clearly about everything and so helped me to fully understand it.

Martyn Pig (the main character) is a very likeable person. This could be due to how it acts as it is almost like he is a young, vulnerable, and innocent child, and yet he is so clever and cunning at the same time. As well as this, the book is written in a way where we can read his thoughts as well as his speech, so we as the reader get to understand him a lot more than the other characters can and do. I like him because he gives a side that some could relate to and also is a character going through things that we don’t know that much about, and so we learn about them throughout the book.

My favourite character would have to be Dean because even though he didn’t feature much, and he was the antagonist, he always made us laugh, and his character created a more in-depth storyline. The further into the book, the more you get to know him, and get to uncover little bits about him. The book also gives us the impression that he is the evil, quite clever one, until later on when we are shown otherwise. This made me very surprised but also a little bit sorry for him.

Savannah, Year 9 student

You Are A Champion by Marcus Rashford

I chose to read You Are A Champion, How To Be The Best You Can Be by Marcus Rashford.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it is not normally something I would choose to read, but I am glad I did. I found this book very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the way Marcus shared his life experiences and made it so relatable and interactive. I thought it was good the way he got you to answer questions and think about your own life. I would definitely recommend this book to other people.

You Are A Champion by Marcus Rashford is all about him sharing his life experiences, about his learning, achievements and practising his football skills. He teaches you that it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are, you are a champion. He explains how to achieve your goals, never give up and practice makes perfect. It teaches you to be comfortable with who you are and always be the best you can.

My favourite parts of the book were his statements like:

· Dream Big, as big as you possibly can.

· You are at your most powerful when you are being you.

· You can only ever be YOU in life, so why don’t you spend this time trying to become the best ever version of you that can be.

· You are only in competition with yourself so stop comparing yourself to other people.

I found these statements were very motivational and made you feel that you are not alone in certain situations. This book will help a lot of people dealing with the pressures of life today.

Lauren, Year 9 student


All the titles are linked to a school-recommended bookseller, LoveReading4Kids. They offer a discounted price and include the option to donate 25% of the cover price to Crookhorn to help our literacy drive. At the checkout, in the Support a School section, enter the school name or postcode (PO7 5UD) to choose this option.  

Reading Plus 

A vital part of being successful at reading is by practicing, which helps to increase speed, improve understanding of vocabulary and builds confidence. With this in mind, we use an online program which supports students with these skills. Reading Plus assesses students’ reading and provides texts – both fiction and non-fiction – that are at an appropriate level. As students read, they are asked questions to check their understanding of the text at word level (specific word meanings) and theme (what the text is about and what they have read.) Once the students have made progress and increased their speed or comprehension, more texts are unlocked for them to read and enjoy. 

In order to prepare our students for the demands of GCSEs and beyond, all students in Years 7 to 9 have their own account log in and have English lessons and homework tasks dedicated to Reading Plus.  

The average reading age required to access and understand GCSE papers is fourteen years and 5 months, so it is important that we help our students to develop the skills they will need to be successful. 

Literacy For Parents

The ability to read fluently and write accurately and coherently is important to achieve success across all subjects. We want all of our students to be able to express themselves confidently and to have every opportunity going forward in their lives. We believe that promoting literacy is a whole college responsibility and not just that of the English department.

Some surprising facts:

  • Children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental well-being than children who don’t enjoy it.
  • Studies have shown that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations. Reading for pleasure was also associated with better sleeping patterns.
  • Children who say they have a book of their own are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who don’t own a book.
  • Fewer boys than girls said they enjoyed reading (45.6% vs. 54.9%) (National Literacy Trust, 2022 research reports).
  • More girls than boys said they talked about what they were reading with their family (41.5% vs. 33.1%) (National Literacy Trust, 2022 research reports).
  • Children who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gain higher results in maths, vocabulary, and spelling tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly (OECD, 2022).
  • Only 35% of 10-year-olds in England report that they like reading 'very much'. This lags behind countries like Russia (46%), Ireland (46%), New Zealand (44%), and Australia (43%) [McGrane et al. (2017) Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS): National Report for England p. 102].

We invite you to join us in developing your child’s literacy at home. There are some resources below to help you support them, and any questions can be sent to