BOOKS FOR SCHOOLS
I'm pleased that the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) are stressed now at every level of the curriculum. And nothing promotes these better, or more easily, than the shared reading of fiction.
So I'm proud that my books are used in every imaginable way in schools. Some use the Author Focus method (sometimes called Book Box) and what they appreciate is that, even within all three key stages, I've written for every ability level. Whatever the skill level, everyone in the class can still be reading 'an Anne Fine'.
Most teachers use books as a springboard to creative writing. I can't count how many extra adventures of Tuffy the Killer Cat I've been sent. After a reading of either Jennifer's Diary or A Pack of Liars, so many children have relished making up their own richly extravagant lies about their (probably humdrum) lives. Both Step by Wicked Step and Up on Cloud Nine have sparked off many moving pieces of writing by children about their lives that teachers have kindly shared with me. ("We read to know that we are not alone.")
And books are still the best instrument we have for ethical enquiry. Children are not keen to think in abstracts, but quick to think morally in individual cases. "She should have told him sooner." "He should never have done that." The Tulip Touch is used routinely in secondary schools to encourage young people to think about the ordering of the society around them. Crummy Mummy and Me has sparked so many discussions about whether Minna's mum should, or should not, have paid for her school trip to the zoo. Primary school teachers report themselves as astonished by how much discussion stems from a simple reading of books like The Chicken Gave it to Me, or Bill's New Frock.
I studied politics at university, so I'm also proud that I get so many letters from teachers of history, politics and civics, explaining how a simple reading of some of the books for older children, like The Road of Bones, The Granny Project and The Book of the Banshee can so painlessly and easily illuminate the concepts and the facts they're trying to teach.
So, as Ian says at the end of one of my own favourite novels, Up on Cloud Nine, "Onwards and upwards, that is how we go."
As Anne says above, many of her books for all ages have been used in schools, and published in special editions with notes and suggestions for further work. The Guardian Teacher Network offers teaching and reading notes for Anne Fine's books Charm School, Bad Dreams, Frozen Billy, Up On Cloud Nine, The Granny Project, The Book of the Banshee, On the Summerhouse Steps, Round Behind the Ice-House and The Road of Bones (registration required).
Bill's New Frock
Read & Respond (Scolastic), by Gillian Howells offers background information and suggestions for exercises based on Bill's New Frock. The linked page also offers sample extracts as a free resource.
Read & Respond Interactive (Scolastic) offers a wealth of digital resources, including contextual material and activities suitable for use with a whiteboard.
Read & Respond: The Diary of a Killer Cat
Read & Respond (Scolastic), by Charlotte Raby offers background information and suggestions for exercises based on The Diary of a Killer Cat. The linked page also offers sample extracts as a free resource.
Anne has converted several of her novels into plays. The Chicken Gave it to Me became the play Celebrity Chicken - which is currently out of print. But several other playscripts are available, in editions which also include suggestions about how they can be used in the classroom: dramatised versions of Anne Fine's novels are listed here, alongside Anne's comments on the adaptation process.