O ne of the special privileges extended to authors of children’s books is to be invited into schools. It’s an opportunity to discuss our work, engage (and hopefully inspire) young readers, and give the school a healthy dose of external creative stimulus. When I was young, I wasn’t so lucky to have such a visit, but now, as an author, I have witnessed first-hand the impact it can have on students. Meeting the human behind the book is especially impactful for those more reluctant readers who sometimes believe that reading just isn’t for them. I’d spent early March riding the rails, visiting schools up and down the UK as part of World Book Day celebrations, talking to students about everything from neurotic zombies and high school aliens to dinosaur-riding knights and near-future virtual worlds that seem strangely prescient now. In our post-pandemic reality, those school visits feel like they belong in a different world now. With schools partially closed, and everyone engaging in different forms of remote learning, I’m in awe of the teachers, librarians, and headteachers who have valiantly risen to the occasion to adapt to a whole new way of engaging students, using a somewhat dizzying array of new virtual tools Daily dose In the days leading up to the UK’s lockdown I watched Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s inspiring speech, and wondered what I might be able to do to help. With many working parents pulled between new work-from-home regimes and supervising home schooling, I thought at the very least I might be able to offer a daily dose of virtual storytime. So, without much fanfare, I read the prologue of my middle-grade novel, Alienated: Grounded At Groom Lake, frommy living room and uploaded it to my YouTube channel, with the promise to keep reading every weekday until the end of the book. This book is the story of the only two human kids at the school for aliens at Area 51. It’s a fish-out-of-water sci-fi comedy: think Harry Potter meets Men in Black. I chose to read this particular title for two reasons. First, it is set at school (albeit one for aliens) and I thought young people might start to miss their schools. And second, it’s a hopeful and uplifting story about overcoming adversity through teamwork, getting on with your family in strange circumstances, and being your best self despite making (many, many) mistakes. I filmed each video in different parts of my house (depending on where my kids were doing their homeschooling), often roping in my ten-year-old to serve as camera operator. Each video goes up on YouTube and all of them are archived on my website. Global readers Since starting, I’ve heard from teachers and parents all around the world. Michael Curtis, a primary teacher in Victoria, Australia, said: “During this time of uncertainty and physical distancing, teachers have been working hard to motivate all learners, even those INS I DE THI S SECT I ON Virtual VISIT In uncertain times, this Dr Seuss project is perfect for helping older pupils feel hopeful about the road ahead UseAntje Damm’s book to help pupils explore the sensitive topics of loneliness, anxiety and lockdown Amid the pandemic chaos, a daily dose of online storytime can help tomake reading a habit JEFF NORTON p46 44 | When building depth into your curriculum, English and history can be combinedwith great results p54 We review five brand new titles that primary-age childrenwill love, including both fiction and non-fiction p52 RESOURCES RECOMMENDED p57 Looking for an engaging way to assess KS1 children's progress? We’ve got quick 'revision blasters', reading/ writing comprehension packs with gorgeous model texts, grammar recap packs and eight TAF packs, designed to produce writing that can be used as TAF evidence (without overtly prompting or modelling!). Visit y2-sats-practice-packs