The kids and I have recently finished reading Private Peaceful. What a brilliant book and it was an excellent way to integrate our History (World War One topic) and our English Literature.
But I have to warn anyone who has never read this book before it is sad. I was reading it with both of my kids and in the last two chapters I was reading through tears. That being said it is a brilliant book to read with your kids while you are working on the First World War. You get to experience what it would have been like being a young man in the First World War, from being guilted into joining, to training and then to life in the trenches and having to go over the top. You get to understand shell shock and you get to feel how shocking the policy of shooting young soldiers accused of cowardice was. But that is not all this book covers (although that would have been enough), this is one of Michael Morpurgo’s best works (we have read a lot of his books), the way he draws you into his characters lives and the way he builds up the relationship between the two brothers is incredible.
There is something about reading books that are well-written, the kids remember the moving descriptions, they remember how the author develops his characters and shows their weaknesses as well as their strengths to get a well-rounded person. And if they read enough of these powerful books, they do end up including some of the ideas in their own creative writing. This book is truly one of those that just stays with you.
We (all three of us) highly recommend reading Private Peaceful if you are studying World War One (we would say it is suitable for ages 10ish and over) and honestly even if you are not studying World War One it is a powerful, moving story that is worth reading.
Since we were reading Private Peaceful as one of our English Literature books I wanted to find some activities to work through with the kids. I found a really good selection of of activities on the Twinkl website (under their vast KS3 English Literature section). And I must confess because I had not read the book before I really found the Knowledge Organiser for Private Peaceful incredibly useful. I printed it out and read it before we started and it just helped to give me an idea of where we were going and what was going to be covered.
They have chapter by chapter worksheets which is a great way to wrap up a chapter after you have read it. We used these after every chapter – with this book we really did read a chapter a day and then the kids worked through the chapter questions, they are only one page long so they are not that long.
And they also have these useful character worksheets – I like the way they set these out, the questions they asked are good examples of things to think about if you were planning on writing a few paragraphs discussing a character.
They had a number of other interesting pages but I must admit after working through the chapter questions, and character studies the only other thing I printed out was the homework booklet. We really loved the whole idea of this booklet and I just printed it out and gave it my oldest and asked her to work through it and give it to me at the end of the week.
The Private Peaceful worksheets are one of a number of English Literature resources from the Twinkl Beyond section that I have used and been impressed. If you are looking for possible KS3 English Literature resources I suggest having a look around the KS3 and GCSE resources on the Twinkl website (We have actually used a few of the GCSE English Literature resources in our KS3 work so it is worth looking under both sections).
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