March update

Well what an exciting start to the month: World Book Day, snow days and stop press: Booking for Reading Gladiators 2018-19 is now open! Select Apply from the top menu bar or select the link below:


Once again we are offering an Early bird booking price, which this year runs until 31st May.  (DON’T MISS OUT – Please note as we are having books printed and shipped from Australia, we cannot extend the early bird price).

You may wish also to take advantage of our special offer this month. All schools who book before 30th April will receive a FREE copy of the UKLA Academic Book of the Year 2017: Guiding Readers-Layers of Meaning, A handbook for teaching reading comprehension to 7-11 year olds

We have enjoyed visiting schools this month in Cambridgeshire and Bristol. It is always a pleasure to meet gladiators across the country and share their enthusiasm for the amazing books you are reading.

Congratulations to the winners of February’s competiton: Jonn Jones at Lower Meadow, Kathleen Emerton-Court at Felsted, Beth Burrows at Frederick Bird, Coventry, Karenza Mahtani at Broadheath, Coventry, Heather Daly at St Joseph and St Bede and Geraldine Hines at Bellbird Cambridge, who each won £50 of books for their school.

The ‘Post an update’ competition is back this month with an opportunity to WIN 50 essential books from our Reading Journey collection, which launches at the end of March.

Post your entries before March 31st to be in with a chance.

The Reading Journey™ is Just Imagine’s programme for supporting independent reading, specifically designed to ensure class book corners and reading areas are stocked with the very best books to ensure children encounter quality literature written by the best writers with art work from the best illustrators.

For each phase there is an essential fiction pack comprising classic and modern classics, as well as some more recently published books which have been included on the basis of their potential for longevity. These packs are ideal for those looking to set up new reading areas in classrooms or needing to refresh old and tired book stock with the most essential books. For schools well-stocked with the essential books on this list, there are also themed packs which are designed to encourage peer-to-peer recommendation.

A dedicated website is being launched in April 2018.  Look out for accompanying resources for these packs of books  that will be available for free download including posters, reading passports and teacher produced materials.


Mini-challenge news:

Year 2 mini-challenge: Message from the Moon

During an exceptionally cold week, watching Year 2 Gladiators perform their poems has really warmed our hearts. It’s wonderful to see the effort you have made with your performances and the close attention paid to the words in the poems. Message to the Moon is full of poems which are just crying out to be read aloud and we hope you continue to enjoy Hilda Offen’s poems. It was a challenge for us this month to pick one winner so we chose five! Congratulations to Frederick Bird, St Matthius, Filton Avenue, Five Elms and St Joseph and St Bede.

Frederick Bird’s Gladiators chose Three Little Monsters (a popular choice!) and performed with great enthusiasm and expression.

The Five Elms Gladiators also chose Three Little Monsters to perform.  They made masks to represent their monsters. Macie explains: ‘It was a funny poem so that was why we chose it’. They even had an upside down monster!

2M Reading Gladiators at Filton Avenue Primary School used their voices and bodies wonderfully to demonstrate the different moods of the poem Sally Small! Great use of your outdoor area too!

St Joseph and St Bede performed Staying Awake. They said: “We really enjoyed the variety of poems and using rhythm and rhyme to enhance our reading. We especially enjoyed using actions to help us to remember the words.”

St Matthius chose Tiger, Tiger! To perform. We were bowled over by their amazing expressive voices and the passion in their performance.

We were also really impressed with Bridge Learning Campus Gladiators this month. Inspired by Message From The Moon, they wrote an ‘Any Way Poem’ on the topic of animals. They said, “Each of the Gladiators has written a verse and they become one poem. The idea is that the reader begins at the ‘Start’ and can read a route any way around the poem until they reach the ‘finish’, reading as much or as little as they like and changing the poem every time.” Why not share this idea with your Gladiators?

Well done Bridge Learning Campus – a prize is on the way to you too.

This month

All aboard the Secret Railway!

This is a fast paced adventure story which we know your Gladiators will love! It is a longer book so reading it aloud will really support your Gladiator’s understanding of the story. We look forward to reading your updates and receiving submissions for the mini challenge.

Year 4 mini-challenge: Little Bits of Sky

What a delight to view samples from so many beautiful and poignant scrap books this month.

Congratulations to the winners: St Mary’s in Prittlewell in Southend. Their very proud group leader told us:

“We absolutely LOVED the book – I can’t quite describe just how deep and mature the discussions the children had with each other about the book were.  I was blown away!”  The memory book is now part of our Reading Gladiators display.”

St Mary’s Prittlewell can look forward to a visit from the 2017 Branford Bose shortlisted author S.E. Durrant herself during the Summer term.


Some outstanding entries from the runners up: Filton Avenue, Frederick Bird, Woodham Walter and St Teresa’s Catholic Primary, who will each receive a copy of Running on Empty for their libraries.

Thank you so  much to everyone who entered. I know the snow made it an extra challenge this month!

From fitting covers such as this one from St Mary’s in Uxbridge to considered content from children who had clearly been touched by the characters in this superb story.


I hope you are all enjoying the beautifully crafted The Wild Swans and The Nightingale stories.

Year 6 mini- challenge: Carol Ann Duffy – collected poems for children

Both inspiration and entertainment from the mini challenge entries this month. From musical medleys to poignant and thoughtful readings.

The overall winner who will receive our KS2 poetry pack, is Halsville Primary School. Their emotive performance of A Worry was well thought out and it is clear the group had really thought about the subject matter of the poem and related to it as individuals. Their teacher noted, “This group had some really interesting discussions about worries – particularly around their secretive and personal nature”.

Runners up: Iver Village Junior School and Whitley Park will also be receiving Poetry books to add to their school collection.

Looking forward to your reactions to the mastery of Oscar Wilde this month, as you delve into The Happy Prince and Other Stories – I wonder which one will be favourite.