Our latest KS3 English Anthology that we have started using is the Detective one. My kids are I are really enjoying the books in the series so when I wanted to get an extra English book it just made sense to stick with the series we are loving and get another one.
But the one thing I have noticed is that some books are slightly easier and some are more challenging and I must admit when I started using this series I just went with the topic that I wanted and did not pay that much attention to which book was recommended for which year. The first book we used was the Myths and Legends book and I felt like I could use it with both my kids (at the time my son would have been year 5 and my daughter Year 8). I felt like he could join in with some of the easier questions (mainly the look closer questions) and she did all the questions. Then we got the War Anthology and it was a definite step up in terms of harder questions. I felt like it was a brilliant book for my daughter (I liked that it was a bit more challenging and we loved that it linked in with our History) but I did feel like it was a bit too much of a stretch for my youngest.
Hodder Education do state on their website that the skills are built up as you work through the series and that the books do increase in difficulty. And they do actually have a Anthologies at a glance breakdown where they show you which Anthologies they would recommend for each year (Myths and Legends was for Year 7 and War was for Year 8 and comparing the two we have used, there is a definite increase in the degree of difficulty of questions.)
For our new Anthology book I wanted something that would work with my youngest. He really enjoyed the Myths and Legends activities that he did and that is unusual for him, he normally just grits his teeth and completes his English activities as quickly as he can. So I was tempted to get another Anthology just to use with him even if it was too easy for my oldest. But I have also been spending quite a bit of time thinking about English Literature for my oldest and making sure we cover all angles. My daughter reads a LOT (and I really do mean a LOT) but she actually does not read Detective books, she likes 19th Century stories and War stories, so I started thinking it might actually be good for her to work through a few detective pages just to get the feeling for the detective genre (and who knows she might even be inspired to read one of the books covered in the Detective book). So our third Anthology is the Detective one (I am still thinking of getting the 19th Century and Gothic one – and just doing a few activities out of those with my oldest as I know they will be good for her to try).
At a first glance I do agree with the suggested years. The Detective Anthology is definitely more along the lines of the Myths and Legends in terms of degree of difficulty of the questions. Also they have included lots of works that are familiar – Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew and Poirot which is always great (my kids love it when they have heard of something or someone before) and they have included a number of works that I would like my kids (well hope) to eventually read.
The format is the same as the other books in the series (although I have been told the Shakespeare Anthology format is different). It is split into three sections – Fiction, Non Fiction and Poetry. And under each of those sections there are eight different extracts that are covered. And for each extract covered you get a wide range of questions (this wide range of questions is one of the reasons we enjoy these books as much as we do. It keeps it interesting and it keeps the kids engaged.)
The questions are split into three broad categories
Look Closer – this tend to be the “slightly easier questions”, shorter answers and tend to be more comprehension type questions.
Now Try This – these are the longer questions. They include lots of different writing activities – create an advert, write a letter, write a newspaper article, diary entry all kinds of writing activities. I really like these longer writing activities.
Practice Questions – these range from fairly short pick the correct statement to longer write three paragraphs type questions.
There are no answers in the book but if you log onto the Hodder Education website you can download all the sample answers for all of the English Anthology books for FREE (I really appreciate that they have added this to the site).
We have only just started using this Anthology but I already like it. I like that I can use it with my youngest to extend his Year 6 English activities and I like that I can use it as a way of going over the detective writing genre with my oldest. I also really like the varied questions, they are interesting and engaging and honestly this is one of the most enjoyable English series that we have found.
My oldest has always enjoyed English but my youngest is not that keen on working on English activities however he does enjoy the activities that I chose from the Anthology series. And really after 9 years of home educating if you can get the kids interested, engaged and even enjoying their work they really do take it in, learn more, remember more and as a home educator that just makes my life a LOT easier.
We have received all of our English Anthology books from Hodder – here are the links to the books on their website. (A quick note – on the Hodder website they also have Boost eBooks which are the digital version of these books, it is exactly the same content but instead of getting a paper book you get online access for a year.)
You can also buy them directly from Amazon
Key Stage 3 English Anthology: Detectives
Key Stage 3 English Anthology: Myths and Legends
Key Stage 3 English Anthology: War
Admin – Hodder Education kindly sent us a copy of the Detective Anthology book after I asked if we could review it. I have not been paid for this post and all opinions / words written are mine.
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