National Story-Telling Week

We hope you enjoy some of the stories our teachers have chosen to share with you…

Click here for the first instalment …

Lockdown Reading…

In order to support your child’s reading at home, we have created Key Stage Log-ins on the Oxford Owl website for your child to access at home. This will give them access to a range of reading books, materials and resources that are suitable for their reading level / stage.

Please ensure that your child is reading the appropriate stage book – your child’s teacher will be able to give you this information if your child is unsure of their stage. Texts are also available for our younger readers, who will be able to access Read Write Inc books to support their phonics learning.

Visit and click the ‘login’ button. To access your Key Stage log in, use the details showing below:

EYFS: Class name: dspseyfs Password: dspseyfs

KS1: Class name: dspsks1 Password: dspsks1

KS2: Class name: dspsks2 Password: dspsks2

If your child does read a text from here, just let us know. This way we can keep a record of what they are accessing, and can provide any further suggestions if necessary.

More guidance can be found in the attached file if needed.

Download (PDF, 259KB)

These interactive titles are perfect for emergent, struggling, and reluctant readers.

Each of the 136 books includes audio support, smart search options and text highlighting, as well as engaging subject matter to captivate children and inspire them to enjoy reading.

Usable across a range of devices*, they can be used at school and at home.

The idea for The Ickabog a long time ago when JKRowling read it to her two younger children chapter by chapter each night while she was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, she decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. She became busy with other things, and even though she loved the story, over the years she came to think of it as something that was just for her own children.

Then this lockdown happened. It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so she brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to her children again. They told her to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!

The Ickabog will be published for free on this website, in instalments, over the next seven weeks, a chapter (or two, or three), at a time. It isn’t Harry Potter and it doesn’t include magic. This is an entirely different story…

Click here for Live Activities during Empathy Day.

Download (PDF, 1.41MB)

Best books for 0-8 year olds about “empathy” – click here. 

Best books for 8-12 year olds about “empathy” – click here.

Visit our page for fabulous ideas to keep you reading whilst at home… click here!

Looking for books to help children learn at home?

We’ve put together a list of recommended books to keep primary school aged children learning from home. Click here for different age groups to find online lists and printable guides.

With access to libraries, classrooms and bookshops limited for many,  we’ve been busy finding some of the best online storytimes for children to access freely at home. The QR codes and links in the document link to story readings on Youtube and all of the books we’ve chosen are read aloud by their fabulous authors and illustrators. CLICK HERE for Story-Time Online!

Download (PDF, 5.99MB)

This is lovely from the people at The Literacy Trust.

Over 100 famous authors have contributed to a free Online Book ‘The Book of Hope’ that is dedicated to the NHS. Click on the link to have a read.


Completely free for all children and families, the extraordinary collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures has contributions from more than 110 children’s writers and illustrators, including Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Greg James and Chris Smith, Michael Morpurgo, Liz Pichon, Axel Scheffler, Francesca Simon, Jacqueline Wilson – and Katherine herself.

Visit our page for fabulous ideas to keep you reading whilst at home… click here!


The nationwide campaign is to help change children’s lives, by making story-sharing a habit of a lifetime and creating readers for life. Reading for pleasure is in decline, so we want to boost it back up, raise awareness and spark millions of imaginations.

Dunn Street will join the fun nationwide social event to share the enjoyment and pleasures of reading … SHARE A STORY on World Book Day… and every day. Spending just 10 minutes a day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to their outcome and it’s fun for all involved. You can read together anywhere and everywhere, from breakfast to bedtime! In the park, on the train, on the sofa, on a plane – reading and sharing stories can happen anywhere at any time.

Download (PDF, 236KB)

Why should adults get all the self-help books?! There are also lovely reads and activities for youngsters who need some extra support to feel relaxed, mindful, grateful, inspired and happy.  Click the picture above to explore 13 books to help your child feel more calm and mindful.




South Tyneside’s new state-of-the-art cultural venue, situated in the heart of South Shields, is brimming with exciting new experiences, activities and facilities for people of all ages to enjoy.


From Sherlock Holmes to Inspector Gadget, Poirot to Wallander, investigate some of the world’s most famous fictional detectives and their creators in our new exhibition!

Find out about the best known on-screen detectives, study crime-busting techniques and examine the enduring appeal of detective stories, from classic novels to present day television series and everything in between.

Explore Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street office and learn all about the character himself, then step into our Orient Express themed film space and watch Ann Cleeves, a local crime writer, talk about her famous North East detective Vera Stanhope and how the genre has developed over the years.

Examine an original Poirot manuscript, and marvel at Agatha Christie’s typewriter. There’ll also be authentic costumes used in Poirot and Sherlock Holmes TV adaptations, as well as a Vera Stanhope costume worn by Brenda Blethyn.

There’s plenty of activities to entertain the whole family; test your eyewitness skills, learn about forensic techniques, examine your own fingerprint under our microscope and pretend to be a suspect in a police line-up plus lots more!

The exhibition opens on Saturday 28 March and runs until Sunday 3 January 2021.

Click here to see what is happening at The Word now…

Supporting your child with their phonics reading

There are two sites, we recommend, that will give you easy reference to phonics and activities that you can use to support your child’s early reading journey:

The first is the ceebeebies Alphablocks Guide to Phonics – click here to visit the page.

Say the sounds

There are 26 letters of the alphabet but they make 44 sounds. Which  sounds would you like to hear spoken aloud and in example words?  Visit the Oxford University Phonics Made Easy site to hear examples!

Click her for: Oxford University Phonics Made Easy site – this also offers advice on the Year 1 Phonics test.

There is also advice about the Year 1 Phonics test on our assessment page…click here.

Click here to “JOIN US” for FREE and access a great range of FREE E-BOOKS that compliment the school’s Reading Scheme!  Great for encouraging reluctant readers or a different experience for everyone that LOVES books!

New children’s books we love

Every month, we review dozens of books for children and teenagers. Here are the ones we liked best in February: guaranteed to get your child reading… 

Whether they’re a teeny toddler or a very particular teen, this is where you can find your child’s next amazing book: just scroll down to find books for a range of ages.

You can also keep track of the latest titles by looking at our past reading recommendations for:

January | December | November | October | September | August

We’ve sorted our favourite new books into rough age ranges, but this is just a guide and readers might find something they’ll love in a different category. Click here to visit the page. 

Click here to find stories about starting school…

Best new books for 2019 can be found by clicking here…

Click here to access the Parents’ Book Finder!

Download (PDF, 4.54MB)

The nation’s favourites

The Book Trust asked the nation to vote for their favourite top 10 and here is the definitive ranking:

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. The BFG by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  5. Winnie-the-Pooh by A A Milne, illustrated by E H Shepherd
  6. The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
  7. The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E B White
  9. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

Blue Peter Book Awards 2020

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2020 celebrates the amazing fact and fiction books that have been published for children in the last year. CLICK HERE to find out who the winners are and read extracts from the shortlist.

The enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children since 2000.

2019 winners include…

Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 – Best Story

Winner: The Boy at the Back of the Class

By Onjali Rauf, Orion Children’s Books

The Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story 2019 was The Boy at the Back of the Class. Onjali Rauf’s first book tells the story of how one ordinary nine-year-old child and three classmates are full of empathy for Ahmet (the boy at the back of the class), who comes to their school as a refugee from Syria. Through their sensitivity, curiosity, ingenuity, bravery and innocent niceness, they make a massive impact on Ahmet’s life, friends, class, school, community and wider world.

Discussing the award, Onjali said: ‘What a wonderful, surreal and truly epic honour it is to win this wonderful award! I can hardly believe that my childhood dream of owning a Blue Peter badge one day has come true in the most unexpected way possible! I am utterly bowled over by the love and support The Boy at the Back of the Class has received not just from the marvellous Blue Peter Judges, but all the children who voted for its place as a winning title this year – thank you.’

Onjali Rauf on how to create a new world from the one you live in right now…

Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 – Best Book with Facts

Winner: The Colours of History

By Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre, QED Publishing

The Blue Peter Book Award 2019 winner for Best Book with Facts was The Colours of History. Who would have thought a book about colour could be so interesting? Each brightly coloured page brings another shade of colour to life. Using pantone samples, this book teaches us about origins and uses for over 20 different colours to illustrate the history of colour. From red to green to purple, this is a book which covers everything.

Author Clive Gifford said: ‘To be recognised by a show I watched and loved as a child (and still do as an adult) is a remarkable thing. I’m tickled pink! I want to thank all the children who voted for The Colours of History. And a big thank to BookTrust for the remarkable work they do. Awards like these are so important in getting across how books with facts can tell incredible and important stories and excite, inspire and entertain young minds as much as fiction.’

Illustrator Marc-Etienne Peintre commented: ‘I was very lucky to get to work with Clive and the Quarto team on such an interesting subject. I am extremely honoured to have won this prize, and most of all, to know that the children the book is intended for have read and enjoyed The Colours of History.’

Top ten facts about colour and their role over the centuries

Previous winners:

2017 Winners: Podkin One Ear and Survivors have won this year’s Blue Peter Book Awards

Podkin One Ear

2016 The Epic Book of Epicness and The Nowhere Emporium

2015 The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff and The Spy Who Loved School Dinners 

2014 Best Story: Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber); Best Book with Facts: Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: World War II by Tony Robinson and illustrated by Del Thorpe (Macmillan Children’s Books)

2013 Best Story: Tom Gates – Genius Ideas (Mostly) by Liz Pichon (Scholastic); Best Book with Facts: Horrible Science: House of Horrors by Nick Arnold and Tony De Saulles (Scholastic)

2012 The Considine Curse by Gareth P Jones (Bloomsbury)

2011 Dead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John (Orion Children’s Books)

2010 Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes (Oxford University Press)

2009 Shadow Forest by Matt Haig (Corgi Children’s)

2007 The Outlaw Varjak Paw by S. F. Said, illustrated by Dave McKean (David Fickling Books)

2006 Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)
2005 Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
2004 Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram (Templar)
2003 Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Scholastic)
2002 Feather Boy by Nicky Singer (Collins)
2001 The Wind Singer by William Nicholson (Egmont)
2000 A Pilgrim’s Progress retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft (Hodder)

Still looking for new and exciting books to read?  Why not try the Book Sorter?

All of the books in the Book Sorter have been added by children just like you!

Now you can find out what other children have recommended by clicking here.