Bearsden Gruffalo author Julia wants to get kids reading again

New children's laureate Julia Donaldson at her home in Bearsden. Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 2nd June 2011
New children's laureate Julia Donaldson at her home in Bearsden. Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 2nd June 2011

Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson has created a series of children’s playlets to help boost reading skills among the young.

The author of The Gruffalo launched a series of short plays which include dramas about modern children as well as new versions of traditional tales, such as The Billy Goats Gruff and a rhyming version of The Hare and the Tortoise, adapted by Donaldson to appeal to today’s young readers.

Each play has parts for six characters – the average reading-group size – and contains beautiful illustrations and unforgettable characters to engage kids and build their reading confidence.

The plays were inspired by Julia’s own experiences of being a parent helper in her own son’s primary school.

The Bearsden author said: “These books are rooted in my own experiences. When helping to oversee a reading group with my eldest child I realised that sometimes when reading books children would read in a wooden way, and get bored easily when it wasn’t their turn.

“I hit on the idea of writing some very short and simple plays where they could all get involved. It worked a treat. The children loved having a part to read, and they started putting much more expression into the words. After one read-through we would swap the parts around, and that way any new vocabulary really sank in. Their reading came on in leaps and bounds.”

Elaine Paterson, deputy head teacher of Baljaffray Primary School, who trialled one of the playlets, said: “We were delighted to have the chance to trial the ‘Best Friends’ play by Julia Donaldson. It really helped the children in our Primary 3 classes to develop their reading skills as well as their confidence to read aloud. Plays are a great way to bring reading to life and the children were really engaged and excited when reading it and loved that they could try out increasingly difficult parts as they grew in confidence.”

The books are published by leading learning company, Pearson, and are aimed at 5-7 year olds, and include works by a number of other authors. They have been launched as part of a national literacy campaign.

For more information on the range of Bug Club Plays and to try out a free online play, visit: www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges.co.uk