Diverse literature links and resources for educators

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education recently published their #ReflectingRealities report which highlighted that only 1% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2017 featured a BAME main character. This is in stark contrast with the fact that 32% of school aged children in England were of minority ethnic origin within the same year.

Educators have a significant impact on the literature children read and are exposed to. The importance of having diverse literature in the classroom cannot be understated. Children have the right to see their lives reflected and validated by the books they read and listen to. Books should also give children an understanding and exposure to those who look different or live a different lives that themselves. I recently wrote a guest blog for EECERA highlighting the importance and benefits of having diverse literary offerings in the early years classroom.

Below are some links and resources educators can access to ensure the literary offerings in their classrooms of libraries are #ReflectingRealities and promote diversity and inclusiveness.




Teaching Tolerance provide free resources for educators to support culturally responsive and inclusive practice. There are posters, magazines and professional development resources amongst others. Particularly useful are the Perspective Texts which are free downloadable diverse texts, covering a range of themes and sorted by age/ability level.


Lee and Low are a US-based, diverse publishers with an online shop. They have resources for educators including a classroom library questionnaire which encourages practitioners to reflect upon how diverse their book collections are. They also have a fantastic blog.
www.disabilityinkidlit.com A blog reviewing children’s literature that features disabled characters. Includes a search feature which allows users to find specific content and representations. They also have an ‘Honor Role’ that details strongly recommended texts.


A not-for-profit children’s multicultural and diverse book sellers. The books are sorted into a range of themes including LGBT, mental health, Black history etc. Schools and settings can join for a small annual fee to receive discounts. They have book packs which to support the ‘Power of Reading’ scheme from the CLPE.


Home to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks grass-roots campaign for diverse literature. They have many resources including an online newsletter, a list of booksellers and partnership with Scholastic.


The website for the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. They publish statistics annually about ethnic representation in children’s literature published in the US. They also have lists of recommended multicultural books for children and teenagers and links to diverse publishers and booksellers.


Fantastic blog with a focus of LGBTQ+ literature, including book reviews.
sophia.stkate.edu/rdyl Research on Diversity in Youth Literature #RDYL is an open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal. It is published twice a year. It focuses on contemporary issues surrounded diversity and representation in children’s literature.


UK-based. independent publishers of inclusive children’s literature. They aim to “give windows into as many worlds as possible”.

from @MattLibrarian

A list of British authors of children’s and young adult’s literature with a BAME (black, asian, ethnic minority) heritage.


UK-based, independent publishers of multicultural children’s books. Their website includes a blog and an online newsletter. They also have free posters featuring some of their books and characters that would be great to complement a book corner or school library.


Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. They published the aforementioned #Reflecting Realities report. They also have free teaching sequences with a focus on diverse perspectives. Includes different texts for EYFS, KS1 and KS2.


Children’s book box service for ages 0 to 7 specialising in inclusive literature.
@WiderReads ‘Widening Reading of Children’s Books’. Twitter account with recommendations of children’s books that are #ReflectingRealities


A recommended reading list for primary age  children featuring literature that celebrates diversity and challenges gender stereotypes.




Current ELG v Pilot

The Department for Education have recently announced that 25 schools will be piloting a new version of the Early Learning goals in the 2018-19 school year. The DfE have stated “The EYFSP pilot is the first stage in a consultative process, with a full public consultation to follow the conclusion of the pilot”.

You can read the full pilot framework and handbook here. Click the links below for a goal by goal comparison of the current ELG to the pilot version.

Please note: the ‘pilot version’ is to be used in EYFSP pilot schools only

Prime areas

Communication and language
Physical Development
Personal, social and emotional development

Specific areas

Understanding the world
Expressive arts and design

Prime Areas

Communication and language

Current ELG Pilot version
Listening and attention/ Listening · Children listen attentively in a range of situations.

· They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions.

· They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.

· Listen carefully and respond appropriately when being read to and during whole class and small group discussions

· Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding

· Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers.

Understanding · Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions.

·  They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.

Speaking · Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs.

· They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future.

· They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

· Participate in small group, class and 1-to-1 discussions, offering their own ideas, using new vocabulary.

· Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of new vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate.

· Express their ideas using full sentences, with modelling and support from their teacher.

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Physical Development

Current ELG Pilot version
Moving and handling · Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements.

· They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space.

· They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

Health and self-care · Children know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe.

· They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.

Becomes ‘Managing Self’ in PSED, see blow
Gross Motor Skills ·  Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for themselves and others. Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination.

· Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing.

Fine Motor Skills · Hold a pencil comfortably using the tripod grip.

· Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paintbrushes and cutlery.

· Show accuracy and care when drawing and copying.

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Personal, social and emotional development

Current ELG Pilot version
Self-confidence and self-awareness · Children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others.

·  They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities.

· They say when they do or don’t need help.

Managing feelings and behaviour · Children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable.

· They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules.

· They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.

Making relationships/ Building Relationships · Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others.

· They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity.

· They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

· Work and play cooperatively and take turns with others.

· Form positive attachments and friendships.

· Show sensitivities to others’ needs.

Self-regulation · Show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and regulate their behaviour accordingly.

· Have a positive sense of self and show resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge.

· Pay attention to their teacher and follow multi-step instructions.

Managing Self · Manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing and going to the toilet.

· Understand the importance of healthy food choices.

· Explain the reasons for rules and know right from wrong.

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 Specific areas


Current ELG Pilot version
Reading · Children read and understand simple sentences.

· They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately.

· They also read some common irregular words.

· They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Becomes ‘Comprehension’ and ‘Word Reading’ see below
Writing · Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds.

· They also write some irregular common words.

· They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.

· Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

· Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed.

· Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters.

· Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.

Comprehension · Demonstrate understanding of what they have read and has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and new vocabulary.

· Anticipate – where appropriate – key events in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems.

·  Use new vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play

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Current ELG Pilot version
Numbers/ Number · Children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number.

· Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer.

·  They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

· Have an understanding of number to 10, linking names of numbers, numerals, their value, and their position in the counting order.

· Subitise (recognise quantities without counting) up to 5.

· Automatically recall number bonds for numbers 0-5 and for 10, including corresponding partitioning facts.

Shape, space and measures · Children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems.

· They recognise, create and describe patterns.

·They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.

Numerical Patterns · Automatically recall double facts up to 5+5.

· Compare sets of objects up to 10 in different contexts, considering size and difference.

· Explore patterns of numbers within numbers up to 10, including evens and odds.

Understanding the world

Current ELG Pilot version
People and communities/ People, Culture and Communities · Children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members.

· They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this.

· They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.

· Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps.

· Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class.

· Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts and – when appropriate – maps.

The world/The Natural World · Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things.

·  They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another.

· They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

· Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants.

· Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class.

· Understand the effect of the changing seasons on the natural world around them.

Technology · Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools.

· They select and use technology for particular purposes.

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Expressive arts and design

Current ELG Pilot version
Exploring and using media and materials/ Creating with Materials · Children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them.

· They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

· Draw and paint using a range of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

·Share their creations, explaining the process they have used.

· Make use of props and materials when role-playing characters in narratives and stories.

Being imaginative · Children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes.

· They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.

Performing · Sing a range of well-known nursery rhymes and songs.

· Perform songs, rhymes, poems and stories with others, and – when appropriate – move in time with music.

· Co-construct, invent, adapt and recount narratives and stories with peers and their teacher.

Please note: the ‘pilot version’ is to be used in EYFSP pilot schools only
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Metacognition in the Early Years: A Practical Approach

The term ‘metacognition’ was first coined by John Flavell in 1976. The term has been defined as ‘thinking about thinking’ or ‘knowing about knowing’. (Metcalfe and Shimamura, 1994) However, these abstract descriptions are not particularly helpful for teachers who wish to understand how the theory can help develop their own practice. A, perhaps, more useful definition is “The knowledge and control children have over their own thinking and learning activities” (Cross & Paris, 1988, p131).

Recently, the Education Endowment Fund published a guidance report outlining recommendations for teachers to develop pupil’s metacognitive skills (Education Endowment Fund, 2018). The EEF have rated metacognition and self-regulation as having a high impact on learning for a low cost, based on their meta-analyses of the research available. The research around this area also highlights that metacognition is a highly teachable skill (Veenman, Elshout & Busato, 1994). The Characteristics of Effective Learning highlight the importance of developing children’s ability to think critically, emphasising the importance of metacognition in this phase (Early Education, 2012). Furthermore, children as young as 3 years old have been found to demonstrate metacognitive abilities (Whitebread & Coltman, 2010). Therefore, it is important that early years practitioners consider how these skills can be fostered and developed.

“Learning does not take place in a void, and neither does metacognition”

(Veenman, Van-Hout-Wolters & Afflerbach, 2006, p10)

Metacognition should not be seen as an add-on and children in the early years should not be given discrete thinking skills or metacognition lessons. Metacognition needs to be taught in context, not in isolation. Additionally, studies have shown that younger children can apply their metacognitive processes most effectively when tasks are linked to their own interests (Whitebread, Anderson, Coltman, Page, Pino Pastenak & Mehta, 2007). This is compatible with a ‘child centred’ approach to learning already used in effective Early Years classrooms.

Ideas for developing metacognitive thinking in the Early Years classroom.

  1. Modelling thinking

Teachers should be ‘thinking out loud’; verbalising their thought process for the benefit of the children. This encourages children to implement strategies they have been taught and use them to problem solve. Modelling thinking also encourages children to connect ideas and apply their learning from different areas.

  1. Modelled use of learning aids

As well as modelling thinking practitioners should also model the use of resources that children can use to support their learning independently. For example, when modelling writing orally perform the sentence you are going to write, orally segment each word and then model the use of a sound mat to write each word. A visualiser can be a useful tool to demonstrate this process.

“I need the /ch/ sound, let me use my sound mat to remind myself how to write it, let me see… oh there is a chicken that starts with the /ch/ sound and there it is written down for me”

This can be an effective method to encourage children to use the resources available to them when engaging in child-initiated or independent learning activities.

Teachers should also model the use of displays that are provided to support children’s learning or understanding such as number lines and modelled examples.

  1. Open Ended Questions

Matt Renwick states that we need to encourage “grey thinking” in children to develop their metacognitive skills (Ferlazzo, 2016) This involves asking open ended questions to encourage children to discuss their ideas in a fluid way.

In early years settings we have a unique opportunity to interact with children as they engage in child-initiated activities of their own choosing. This allows us to ask open ended questions that will prompt rich responses from children which will develop both their metacognitive abilities and also their language skills.

What made you choose to do this? What do you think would happen if..?  Why have you added this? How did you find out? What do you think will happen next? What could you add from the block area? Tell me about what you are making.

Through open ended questioning we can encourage children to focus on the processes behind learning, allow them to reflect on their thoughts and verbalise their thinking. It also begins to develop the skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation that are recommended in the EEF guidance report to encourage metacognitive thinking (Education Endowment Fund, 2018).

This is compatible with the findings of The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education Project which encourages the use of ‘sustained shared thinking’ to extend children’s understanding (Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford & Taggat, 2004).

  1. Debrief

At the end of a session ask children “what did you learn?” or “what did you find out that you didn’t know before?” and then “how did what you did help you find out?” (Ferlazzo, 2016). Asking these questions at regular intervals develops children’s awareness of the different ways they learn and encourages them to reflect on new information. Children in the early years will need to have responses to these questions modelled and structured by adults before they are able to answer these independently. A display could be created highlighting “the ways we learn” which could be a point of reference for children in future discussions.


Cross, D. R., & Paris, S. G. (1988) ‘Developmental and instructional analyses of children’s metacognition and reading comprehension’, Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(2), 131-142. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-34097-001

Early Education. (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). London: Early Education.

Education Endowment Fund. (2018) Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning Guidance Report. London: EEF.

Ferlazzo, L. (2016) ‘What is metacognition? Let’s think about it’ [podcast], Bam Radio. http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2016/09/23/what-is-metacognition-lets-think-about-it-is-my-new-bam-radio-show/

Flavell, J. H. (1976) Metacognitive Aspects of Problem Solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The Nature of Intelligence (pp. 231-235). Hillsdale, NJ: Earlbaum

Metcalfe, J., & Shimamura, A. P. (Eds.). (1994). Metacognition: Knowing about knowing. Cambridge, MA, US: The MIT Press

Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. & Taggart, B. (2004) The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project: Final Report: A Longitudinal Study Funded by the DfES 1997-2004. Institute of Education, University of London/ Department for Education and Skills/Sure Start: London.

Veenman, M. V. J., Elshout, J. J., & Busato, V. V. (1994) ‘Metacognitive mediation in learning with computer-based simulations’, Computers in Human Behavior, 10, 93–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/0747-5632(94)90031-0

Veenman, M. V. J., Van Hout-Wolters, B., & Afflerbach, P. (2006) ‘Metacognition and learning: Conceptual and methodological considerations’, Metacognition and Learning. 1(1), 3-14. http://hdl.handle.net/11245/1.266074

Whitebread. D., Anderson, H., Coltman, P., Page C., Pino Pasternak, D. & Mehta, S. (2007) ‘Developing independent learning in the early years’, Education 3-13, 33(1), 40-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004270585200081

Whitebread, D. & Coltman, P. (2010) ‘Aspects of pedagogy supporting metacognition and self-regulation in mathematical learning of young children: evidence from an observational study’, ZDM Mathematics Education, 42(2), 163-178. https://doi. org/10.1007/s11858-009-0233

How can schools promote reading for pleasure?

There is a wealth of research and anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the positive effect reading for pleasure has on children’s academic and social development. Research has shown that reading for pleasure has a bigger impact on children’s cognitive development than their parent’s level of education and their socioeconomic background. However, in England the percentage of children that report reading for pleasure is significantly lower than those in many other countries. How can we promote reading for enjoyment for children?


Consider how your book corner or school library represents the children who make use of them. The Cooperative Children’s Book Centre has been tracking the level of diversity in children’s literature since 1985. In 2017 they reported that a mere 9% of children’s books published in that year featured black characters in a significant role. This is clearly a misrepresentation of our multicultural society. It is important that we consider the literature offerings we are making available to children how these reflect the religions/races/cultures/families of 21st century society and our school communities. As practitioners we need to be self-reflective and consider if the books we are providing reflective of those that read them to ensure children are able to self-identify with them and so that they promote their sense of self-worth. This will encourage children to read to read for pleasure.

Additionally, 20% of the pupils in primary schools are exposed to another language at home. How are we valuing these languages? The use of dual language texts or books in a child’s home language can be useful to welcome new EAL learners into our classrooms demonstrate how their home language is valued and encourage these pupils to read for pleasure.


Do reading opportunities on offer reflect 21st century life for children? Research has demonstrated that magazines, websites and emails are among most common choices of material for children to read. Can we increase the scope of texts on offer to encourage children to read for pleasure? E-readers, tablets, blogs, comics, magazines, child-friendly newspapers and even song lyrics used to complement your poetry offerings can promote children’s engagement in reading. However, it is important we remain mindful of the quality and age appropriateness of literature we expose children to in schools.

Children’s interests

We need to provide literature that is related to children’s interests whilst bekids sitting on green grass fielding mindful that these can change cohort to cohort, term to term, week to week… (day to day!). Providing children with literature related to their own interests will encourage children to engage with text. It is important we do not simply assume children’s interests and that we make use of pupil voice and encourage children to tell us what topics they would like texts to focus on. This element of choice will encourage children to take further ownership of their reading collection and, therefore, encourage reading for pleasure. Research has found that choice of reading material is fundamental in encouraging children to read for their own enjoyment.

Opportunities to read for enjoyment

If we want children to read for pleasure, we need to build in time and opportunities for them to read solely for enjoyment. Although the school day can be busy we need to ensure time is planned for so that children can enjoy reading.

We also need to encourage, and devote time to, children sharing books they have enjoyed. Recent research in Australia highlighted that children having time to talk about texts they have enjoyed was a factor that predetermined their reported enjoyment of reading. Encouraging children to talk about texts allows them to refine their likes and dislikes, encourages them to read more as they are recommended books by their peers and also encourages and the shared and social aspects of reading which can contribute to a whole-school reading culture.

Use of libraries

Libraries and librarians can be a fantastic way to encourage reading for pleasure for all ages. Having a school library is a brilliant way to showcase the rbooks in black wooden book shelfange of genres and types of books available to children. Public libraries are a fantastic free resource which have the power to transform attitudes to reading and lives.  Children who use a public library are twice as likely to be reading outside of school than their peers . We need to be promoting the use of public libraries for our children and their families. This can be achieved by inviting librarians into schools to talk to children, visiting a local library, sharing information with families and promoting local library competitions and events such as summer reading schemes.

Reading role models

Children need to see adults enjoying reading. One way schools can make adults enjoyment of reading visible is by creating displays that showcase the books staff are currently reading or that they enjoyed reading when they were younger. This helps establish a whole school culture of readers and can prompt discussion around books and reading. Adults also need to share books with children that are above the level of those which they can read independently. This helps model the skills of reading, develops children’s vocabulary and helps foster a love of stories and reading. Additionally, the use of a ‘buddy system’ where older and younger children are paired together and given time to share and talk about books is also an effective way of children seeing reading role models.