Monday, 10 October 2016

Reading guides...the Arty version!

When Bedazzled Ink asked me to produce a reading guide for StarMark which could be used by readers and book clubs, I was a little taken aback. Oh, I'd seen reading guides in the back of books before - completely ignored them, if I'm honest - but I had no idea how to prepare one for my own story. The analytical approach (What was the author trying to convey by having Manuel spill the parsnip soup? Do you think the main character struggles more with their work or love life?) leaves me cold. As a reader, all I want to do is read the story, not read into it, if you see what I mean?

I wasn't even sure that a reading guide would ever be needed for StarMark, especially as it's supposed to be a children's book and I'd never heard of a reading guide being used by children, let alone whether children's book clubs existed.

After some thinking, I managed to come up with a handful of questions that weren't too 'deep' for children to tackle and weren't based simply on written exercises. The end result is here, on BInk's website.

Bit of a waste of time, I thought. It'll never get used.

I should have had more faith.

StarMark is currently being read by a Year 7 bookclub at Stamford High School. Their teacher, Miss S, contacted me recently to say that the girls are enjoying the book and they've had a go at answering the first question on the reading guide;

'In Irvana’s world, all the overlords have a coat-of-arms which tells people something about them. If you had to design a coat-of-arms for yourself, what symbol(s) would you use, and why?'

(If you've read the book, you'll know for example that the overlords of Koltarn all have a golden star on them - except for Lord Terenz. His is a black star on a white background.)

Miss S sent me photos of some of the girls' finished coat-of-arms, and here they are!

I'm part of a display! How cool is THAT?

Art, food and cats...some of my favourite things, too!

Fabulous motto - Live, love, learn. Love it!

The House of Dach...Game of Thrones fan?

And a rainbow... *smiles*
So colourful - and another good motto

They're so good, I decided that perhaps I ought to draw mine, too...

Literally just finished...

Can you 'see' me in this...? *winks*

So there you go - if you fancy having a go yourself, what would be on YOUR coat-of-arms?


  1. This is a great post, Katherine. The reading guide looks very professional and I think it's a brilliant idea for the *childrens' involvement. The heraldic shields are brilliant.

    * I was reading a blog today about what a shame it is that children aren't given much opportunity to write creatively in school time lessons. So, this could be a good start in that direction.

    1. Yep - beginning to realise that author visits and reading guides probably give teachers the tools to allow children to have a little bit of 'time off' from the structured stuff and to focus on aspects of storytelling in different ways.