A great way to prepare your child for their 7+ English exam is to get them reading. Expanding upon the kinds of texts they have read improves both their vocabulary and literacy skills. As they approach their 7+ exams, you should encourage them to read increasingly difficult texts and try new genres.
How can help my child to love reading?
Getting your child interested in reading can be an uphill struggle. Some children seem to be natural readers who are perfectly happy to while away their spare time nuzzled into their latest favourite read. For others it can be a chore they consider forced upon them by parents and teachers alike. With reluctant readers, it is important to try to get to the root of the issue. For some, it comes down to difficulties in the act of reading itself. This may mean further support is needed with phonics or sight reading. For others, it is a lack of interest in the books they read. There is a catch-22 here; the better a reader you become, the more interesting the books you have within your scope. Remember that, at whatever stage, paired reading between parents and children is encouraged. You may take it in turns in reading a page or paragraph each, or simply read to them, allowing them to soak up the language and the story.
The key is persistence, and persistence over time. It may take years for your child to become a proficient and enthusiastic reader. They may become proficient but never the kind of child who just picks up a book for pleasure. For most children, the intrinsic pleasure occurs when they find a book, or usually a series of books, that, for whatever reason, really appeals to them. For this reason, it is important to expose your children to a vast range of genres. Of course, there are books which we would prefer our children to read, but really, whatever gets them going is a good start. Initially, this may be comics, graphic novels or magazines. The important thing is that reading, in the early stages, is established as a positive experience.
Which books should my child read to prepare for the 7+?
In terms of the 7+ assessment, pupils will need to display a positive attitude towards reading, be able to talk confidently about a book they have read and enjoyed and be able to talk about their favourite authors. Children should also begin to show an awareness of different genres and be able to give reasons for preferring a certain genre over others.
Below, we offer a small selection of books which have a proven track-record of hooking in young readers. They are all authored by established writers, so if your child takes a liking to a particular writer, they can access many other books in their back catalogue.
George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Any list of children’s books should include at least one title from Roald Dahl. His stories are timeless, mischievous, moralistic, and inspirational. The fact that many of his stories have been made into films is certainly a plus. Watch the films after reading the books and discuss with your child the similarities and differences.
The story of George’s Marvellous Medicine follows the tale of George, a sweet, well-behaved boy whose evil grandma treats him shockingly badly when his parents are out of the house. The day arrives when George can take no more and seeks to teach the old bat a lesson. He concocts his own medicine, which, when consumed by Grandma, has unexpected and hilarious results.
Netflix, who have secured the rights to many Roald Dahl classics, plan to release an adaptation of George’s Marvellous Medicine in 2021.
Bad Dad by David Walliams
Walliams’ books require a good level of reading to be enjoyed independently but are endlessly entertaining. His characters are recognisable and relatable, but their adventures are anything but ordinary.
Bad Dad is an amusing, thrilling and heartening story which puts father-son relationships in the spotlight. It is a rags-to-riches story which recounts the tale of a young boy called Frank whose dad, a former race car driver, unwittingly becomes involved in an organised crime gang – as their getaway driver.
Netflix is also releasing a feature film adaptation of this best-selling children’s book in 2021.
The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith
Dick King-Smith was a prolific children’s writer who penned over 100 books. His stories, many of which feature animals as their protagonists, are as accessible now as they were when written.
The Sheep-Pig is a timeless classic which recounts the heart-warming tale of Farmer Hogget and his one-in-million pig whose skill in herding sheep quite literally saves his bacon.
The 1995 film adaptation ‘Babe’, which was nominated for an Oscar for its visual effects, captures the humour and sentiment of the book and is a film which kids will want to watch again and again.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Sticking with the pig-theme; Charlotte’s Web is a classic children’s book by E.B. White. Less renowned than the authors featured so far, he is the writer of several popular children’s books, including Stuart Little.
This is the story of an unlikely partnership between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte, a barn spider. With Wilbur facing the chop, Charlotte begins to write messages with her webs to convince the farmers that Wilbur’s life is worth saving.
The 1952 novel was adapted for the screen in 2006 with a feature film of the same title.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
This is a series of twelve children’s books written by British author Cressida Cowell. Great for those children who like to devour book after book in the same series.
The series is set in a fictional Viking world and follows the experiences of Hiccup, a young Viking boy. Hiccup, who is physically weaker than his male peers, is overlooked as potential hero material. However, he is smart and uses his intelligence to learn how to speak ‘Dragonese’, the language of the dragons. A vast array of dragon-related adventures ensue.
The books have been made into a franchise consisting of three films and an animated series.