Saturday, 17 July 2021

Dear Year Six

Dear Year Six,

I can’t believe that your time in Deer Class is coming to an end. It's a shame that our reading journey was interrupted several times by various lockdowns but at least we've been fortunate enough to get through some incredible books together over the past couple of years.

We started this year with The Super Miraculous Journey Of Freddie Yates (it seemed like the perfect book to welcome you back with after being absent for several months). Halloween was definitely the ideal time to read Ghost Stadium, especially on that day when there was a big thunderstorm. We then moved on to High-Rise Mystery (followed, virtually the next day, by Mic Drop…I didn’t really get much choice there). After Christmas, you all listened at home to The Beast and the Bethany (oh, some good news, a second one is coming soon) and then, after having to give up on it last year when the first lockdown happened, I finally got to read you The Light Jar. It was worth the wait, it really was. I was so pleased that you hadn’t heard The Outlaw Varjak Paw before as it meant I got to share it with you. I know Omar’s voice changed virtually every time he spoke, which several of you certainly enjoyed pointing out, but, in my defence, there's a pretty big cast of characters to keep track of. Add in all the picturebooks and poems we've enjoyed together, the non-fiction books and magazines we've explored and the graphic novels you've devoured, and I think we've had a pretty amazing year.

Sadly, we never got to enjoy The Shark Caller, Boy in the Tower or The Haunting of Aveline Jones, and I’m just as disappointed about that as you. Seek them out when you get to Year Seven, they’re all absolutely outstanding. When I bump into you in Tesco after-school (I'll be topping up on Kit Kats salad), I’m going to ask you whether you’ve read them so make sure you do. You know I’m not joking! We didn’t get to read all we wanted to, we never could, and that’s fine.

I want to say that it’s been an absolute privilege to be part of your reading journey over the past two years and I’ve loved watching you become such passionate, adventurous and open-minded readers. How do I know that you are? Well…

Because you looked forward to story time every day as much as I did. Because you wanted to talk about books with me and each other whenever there was a spare moment. Because when I brought in a bookshelf from home, you were full of great ideas about how we could use it. Because you’ve all read books by a such a wide range of authors. Because when I asked for volunteers to judge the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize for science books, you all jumped in. Because you tuned in to story time when you were stuck at home. Because you took control of our Pupil Recommendations Shelf and ran it far better than I could. Because when there was a new book in class that everyone wanted to read, you introduced borrowing systems that actually worked. Because you constantly reminded me whenever I forgot about Poem of the Day. Because the first fifteen minutes of every Monday morning was spent telling me all about what you’d read at the weekend. Because most of you loitered around the desk whenever a brown parcel arrived, in case it was books (it was always books). Because so many of you signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge. Because you were desperate to squeeze in about four more novels during the final three weeks of term (we had a good go!). Because you understood that reading isn’t just books. Because…oh, there are so many more reasons.

I’ve spent the last few minutes thinking about each of you and I’m pretty sure I can break it down even further.

Marcus, you’re a reader because of the way that you talked with so much enthusiasm about the Planet Omar books to literally anyone who walked into the classroom. You started a trend for reading them, not just in our class but across the whole school.

Leila, you’re a reader because when it was your turn to do the Recommendations Shelf, your choices were incredible…fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, picturebooks, poetry, you included it all.

Reuben, you’re a reader because the questions you asked Sharna Jackson about High-Rise Mystery were so perceptive. You were also the driving force behind getting me to read Mic Drop immediately afterwards.

Isla, you’re a reader because you took your role judging the science books very seriously. You read all of them, you spoke about all of them, you did an amazing job.

Zak, you’re a reader because every class needs a graphic novels expert. Thank you for being ours this year! How you knew exactly what everyone else was reading and what page they were on remains a mystery to me.

Josh, you’re a reader because you were so desperate to share the book you were reading about Ernest Shackleton with me (thank you, I loved it). The fact that you enjoy non-fiction and are prepared to show your passion for it is wonderful. I’ll never forget when you did a spontaneous talk to the class about animals being kept in captivity because a book you were reading had affected you so much.

Kaiesha, you’re a reader because you always, always wanted to read the class book again by yourself as soon as we’d finished it. I loved seeing how carefully you listened whenever we read together! You usually managed to get the biggest cushion too.

Luca, you’re a reader because after listening to Kwame Alexander talk about his books, you went and read every single one. You’re right, they are fantastic. Keep your eyes open for his next one.

Casey, you’re a reader because you invariably seemed to know who had the missing Mr Wolf’s Class and Cirque du Freak books. Thank you for keeping my books bill down!

Sophie, you’re a reader because almost every time I looked at you, you were engrossed in something by Jo Cotterill. I liked your plan of moving off-camera during assembly time (but keep it quiet).

Archie, you’re a reader because you always had something constructive to say when a child came in from another class asking to borrow a book. Year Four have a lot of respect for you and your book knowledge.

Scarlet, you’re a reader because almost every conversation we had was about books and reading. And occasionally about your favourite ice-creams.

Henry, you’re a reader because everyone in the class (including me) respected your recommendations. I don’t know how you have the time to fit in all the books you do. You read incredibly widely and you can talk about the work of so many authors.

Joseph, you’re a reader because you finally discovered that reading is for you. Seeing your confidence and enthusiasm grow over the year made me so happy. Keep going!

Alesha, you’re a reader because you seemed to know exactly where to find every Poem of the Day that we’d shared together. You kept it going and would always step in when needed.

TJ, you’re a reader because you knew more about manga than anyone else. To be honest, I only ever really understand half of what you were telling me but I loved the passion you had when you were explaining all the storylines.

I could go on Deer Class, I really could, but I'm confident that I've made my point. It’s been a joy and a privilege to work with you all this year but the summer holidays are looming and we’ve all got reading to be catching up with. There are currently 17 books on my pile at home! Please make the most of your time at secondary school. Find the library, tell the librarian about the books you love, catch up with all the books that we never got around to reading, read old books and new books, read funny books, sad books, scary books, emotional books and everything in between.

We’ve talked about why reading matters so many times over the past couple of years. You all understand why it's so important, so please share your passion with the world. I know you will.

Mr Biddle


  1. How lovely! So special for them to get personalised shout-outs. You've certainly created some life-long readers.

  2. Fantastic teaching! From a retired English teacher.

  3. Inspirational Jon! Such lucky children to have soaked up your passion for reading. It will serve them well in the years to follow.

  4. The readers of Deer Class are the best! Happy reading to you all!
    - SF Said