I wrote a review, a few months ago, about our new English Anthology book on War. It was a post based on me reading the book, my expectations of the book and not us (my daughter) having actually had time to use it. And I always like to read reviews from people once they have actually had time to use it and figure out if it works for them. So this is our “we have been using it since August and this is what we think of it” – update post.
So what is this book – The War book is part of a 9 book series of English Anthology books published by Hodder Education (aimed at KS3 ages). Each anthology book covers a genre or theme – so far we have two of these books – the Myths and Legends Anthology book and this one, the War Anthology book. The books are split into 3 categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry. For each of these three categories there are eight examples of War writing (so it could be an extract from a story, it could be a film review of a article and it could be a poem). For each war extract you get get activities linked to the writing. These activities are broken down into different type of tasks and range from questions about the piece of writing to creative writing activities, to possible speaking activities to further research and investigation activities. The activities are vast in their nature.
So what do we think of the actual writing samples (extracts) they have included? I personally think they have chosen well – they are all excellent examples of writing, both in the style that they are written and in the way they convey information and feelings about the war topic. One of the things that I like about these books is they actually inspire us to read (or watch) what they have chosen. After seeing the 1917 movie review in the book we actually watched the film and everyone really enjoyed it and thought it was thought provoking. And I must say that working through the activities on the movie helped to highlight a possible area that we could improve on. Also after completing the War Horse activities my daughter wanted to read the complete story (so possible negative point could be that you end up wanting to buy a number of new books based on the extracts included).
The activities – I really like the range of activities that they have included. They do always have some easier activities and some more longer writing (possibly more challenging) activities. I must confess although I think the “understand the text” type questions are good and useful for the kids to work through I really love the longer writing questions. And yes some of them are a challenge but then I think it is good to challenge the kids, to get them to write about different topics and possibly write them in a format they are not used too. My daughter found the movie review writing activities a bit more challenging (she is far more comfortable writing a book review or writing a letter or even a short story than a movie review). But the fact that she found in more of a challenging writing activity made me realize it was something we needed to talk more about and practice. I also like that some question are a “give your opinion but explain why you say that” question. I think it is an important skill that the kids need to develop and practice – being able to explain why they think a certain way, why they agree or disagree with a statement made. Very important skill. Honestly I could go on and on because I really do think the activities chosen are varied and well chosen.
But more importantly my daughter, the kid you has been using this resource, what does she think – She likes this range, and I mean really likes it. She likes it so much so wants to try other English Anthology books – that too me is always a good indicator when the kid who is using the book actually asks for the other books in the range then you know they are enjoying using the book. She likes the different sources that they have found and used and she enjoys the fact that the activities are so varied. She says it is an engaging and fun English resource. And yes some of the activities are challenging but she is the kind of kid who will work at the challenging activities and try until she is happy that she has been successful.
She also likes that there are answers (free to download from the Hodder website). She marks her own answers for the shorter questions and then when it comes to the longer writing questions I read her answer and give her feedback.
Both my daughter and I LOVE this book. We really do. We have been impressed with the works they have chosen to base the activities on and we think the activities are brilliant – a good mix of easier and more challenging and they have made the activities interesting so the kids actually enjoy working through them (yes I am using the word enjoy). We really do HIGHLY RECOMMEND the War Anthology book.
Admin Stuff – I was given a copy of this book for us to review but the fact that I have now written multiple posts about it and keep mentioning it in other posts is because we are finding it so useful and are really enjoying it.
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