Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton: February’s Book of the Month in-depth – review and a writing activity adaptable for KS3-5

Age range: YA (12+) Themes: identity, diversity/ethnicity/race, protest & politics Genre: fantasy + western  Narrative style: first-person past tense with plenty of pace and an engaging voice with plenty of ‘sass’ and wit. It’s really easy to root for Amani as she tries desperately to escape her situation by dressing as a boy and entering a shooting […]

Asking For It: Review and A Level Language NEA Original Writing Practice Task (Book of the Month in depth)

Age range: upper YA (14+) Themes: justice, gender, rape culture, social media Genre: contemporary Narrative style: first-person present tense; structurally separated into ‘last year’ and ‘this year’ (although all is expressed in present tense) This is a punchily-written contemporary novel which explores the lead up to and aftermath of a gang rape of a teen girl at […]

Writing Myths and the Damage they Do

Writing is fraught with myths, many romanticised and some downright damaging.  It’s taken me a while to spot some of the dangerous ones, and I’m probably still in thrall to some others.  Here are a couple that I can mostly remember are, in fact, false.  And as an educated and mostly competent adult writer, if […]

The State of Grace Review and Lesson Ideas for KS3, GCSE and A Level Lang on Gender representation (Book of the Month in-depth)

Age Range: 12+ (according to publisher’s website; I would happily use this throughout the secondary school – plenty to engage older teens, nothing ‘unsuitable’ for yr7/8, although they will be less interested in the romance aspects) Themes: family, friends, being different, romance Narrative style and genre: Strong first-person narration plants you firmly in Grace’s world […]

Introducing October’s Book of the Month: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (including A Level Language teaching idea)

This YA novel, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement is a great contemporary pick for Black History Month. It tells the story of Starr, a 16 year-old girl, who is with her friend Khalil when he is shot by a policeman after being pulled over (this is not a spoiler – it happens in […]

Introducing September’s Book of the Month: YA BAME Anthology A Change is Gonna Come

This book is a superb introduction to a range of BAME writers working in the UK today. In this collection, they all tackle the theme of ‘change’ in short stories and poems for a Young Adult audience. The collection features many well-known authors such as Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence and Nikesh Shukla, but the publishers […]

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