Several years ago, I came across some brilliant research by Maureen Lewis and Ros Fisher on how to engage reluctant readers, in particular boys in Years 3 and 4, where typically their interest waned. Being motivated by its content, I decided to make up some of my own Curiosity Kits. The premise of these kits are story bags (I used nylon drawstring PE bags) which have a non-fiction book of a particular interest to boys e.g. knights, dragons, football, dinosaurs etc. Accompanying the non – fiction book would be an artefact related to the topic, a laminated word search which again contained words pertinent to the book. A magazine was also included, which while aimed at adults would encourage an adult male in the family to share the kit. I included a book review with question, comment and rating boxes added. Now this involved quite a financial commitment from me, but I was quite canny with how I gathered the resources. My first job were the books and as most schools seem to have a ‘Book Man/Company’ that surreptitiously leave a collection of books in the staffroom each term, this was easy to acquire for a reasonable cost. I seem to remember I got 10 DK non-fiction books for £10 – a great start which then dictated what topics would be used. Small toys etc were found via eBay and such like. Laminated word searches were easy to make using an online word search maker but the magazines were a stumbling block. They were as expensive at about £3-5 each so I began ringing around publishers and explained what I was doing and they (well, most) were only too happy to provide a few copies for my kits. Some were even kind enough to provide 6 or more backdated copies which was brilliant!!
I knew, ideally, that I wanted a class set but that would be too expensive so I settled on 15 which actually turned out really well because only half the class at any one time has them to take home for a week, which then builds up expectation and excitement for those having to wait. Although the topics are ‘boy’ friendly, this by no means excludes the girls, who were only too pleased to loan them for a week as well.
The feedback I got from parents was fantastic, they actually enjoyed sharing the kit with their child and the opportunity to do something different. I included a little box on the book review for the parents (if they wanted) to complete regarding their thoughts and I’m glad I did as the response was superb and reiterated by original reasons for setting them up in the first place.
If you are reading this and think, I’d like to do the same but don’t know where to start, get in touch and I can pass on the lending cards, clipart for the kits, checking out list, book review forms, the research word searches and any advice you think you may need, then just tweet me @nickynewbury and I’ll do my very best to help.
Oh, and how did the boys do? Well, let’s just say that there were no reluctant readers after using these!!! Think that is testament enough?