Book reviews - homework help

How To Be Clever - Smart Ways to Get Smarter by Helen Greathead 

The cover of the book indicates that it can help 'get better grades', speed up ypur reading' and 'improve your memory' - something here that everyone wants, I think! This practical book contains top tips and tricks about making your brain more effective, plus true-life accounts about the greatest minds of all time - and some we wouldn't have thought of as great minds! It's an eclectic and fascinating mix - how to learn tables, how juggling helps, how to improve your writing, and much more. Very readable and something here to help everyone, young and old.

Train Your Brain to be a Maths Genius by Mike Goldsmith

To a greater or lesser extent, we all need maths in our everyday lives. We encourage our children to persevere with their maths lessons even if they find the subject hard (or, dare I say it, boring?). Get a copy of this book and I am sure that everyone, adult or child, will be stimulated to try the games, problems and activities and thereby boost their maths skills. It really does make maths fun. Children will also learn about some of the great mathematical thinkers of the past - how one mathematician shortened World War II by two years. The book is packed with activities and facts, arranged by section based on key maths areas. A colourful, attractive book, just right for dipping into. Next time you are struggling with homework, get this book out and try related activities - it will boost confidence.

My First Dictionary from Dorling Kindersley

This book really scores in terms of size - at just larger than A4, there is plenty of scope for big pictures to attract children's attention and (as we expect form DK) the layout is excellent - not cluttered and plenty of white space so children aren't confused. Big bright letters and an alphabet header of lower and upper case letters help children find their way around. Every word is illustrated with a high quality photograph and the definitions are all given by using the word within a sentence. Concepts are clearly explained, for example a set of Russian dolls is used to illustrate 'large'. NOtes for parents and dictionary games round off what I think is the perfect first dictionary.

First Number Skills (Wipe Clean Workbook) by Roger Priddy

Over 60 activities are included in this practical and colourful workbook, ideal to help develop first number skills in a fun way.  It includes number bonds, simple addition and subtraction, to ensure children can learn those all-important first skills, and fun games to play with pull-out interactive learning cards. Children can also practise writing over the numbers. The activities are enjoyable and the colourful scenes will engage children. Pages are wipe clean (and a pen is included), so that all the activities can be wiped away and repeated.

Help Your Kids with Science by Carol Vorderman

Struggling to help your child with their science homework? Wish your understanding of science was a bit better? Then this is just the book for you! The unique visual approach takes the mystery out of the subject and makes it accessible for all. There is a phenomenal amount of information here - the approach means that KS3 and 4 students can use it as a reference book, and KS2 children will find it helps their parents to help them! It covers the key areas of biology, chemistry and physics. It's easy to find your way through the book using the contents page or index, and the glossary is useful for quick reference. Not just for children - inquisitive adults will also find it fascinating, as a hitherto perhaps incomprehensible subject becomes clear and enjoyable.


Ocean Giants (Real World Maths) by Wendy and David Clemson

Who knew maths could be such fun? I was particularly impressed with this book on two counts - the lively colourful presentation and the fact that the question allow children to practise their maths skills on real-life situations. Many parents tell us children struggle with maths word problems - reading and interpreting a question as well as actually doing the arithmetic. Children explore the ocean, solving puzzles about walruses, whales, jellyfish and many more sea creatures. They will also learn many interesting facts along the way, and enjoy the excellent photographs. A really attractive and inspiring way to do maths and an excellent cross-curricular resource, suitable for 6+. I would love to see more in the series, which has books for KS1, 2 and 3.

Hello Kitty Alphabet Letters from HarperCollins

Using characters beloved by children as a way to encourage early learning is an excellent device.Join Hello Kitty as she shows your child a simple way to learn the alphabet with one colourful page for each letter. Early Years literacy skills are developed through a wide range of fun activities - drawing, writing, spotting words and much more.  of pictures  Learning is extended at the end by two pages where children are encouraged to think of words with the same sound.Content is written by an education expert and linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage. There are over 100 colourful reward stickers and a reward chart to give children an incentive to learn.

 Be The Best At Writing by Rebecca Rissman

Learn to outsmart your classmates with the tips in this exciting, top secret book! The secret tips included in this simple, easy-to-read text will have you writing opinion, fact, narrative, and directions in no time! It's presented in an appealing way and children will find it easy to use and very helpful in developing writing and study skills.


Hello Kitty Starting to Write from HarperCollins

Hello Kitty helps your child take an important step in getting ready for school in this simple-to-follow guide to starting to write. It covers letter shapes and formation and is linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage, so parents can be reassured that they are giving their child a good start to school. Initially, children draw over lines and shapes on colourful pages before moving on to writing over letters, with clear directions on the correct formation of words. Again, there are over 100 colourful Hello Kitty reward stickers to use on the chart to help motivate your child. This is a lovely bright series of books which children will really enjoy and which make early learning a fun experience. 

Letter Work (Montessori) by Bobby and June George

The Montessori method teaches writing before reading, so children learn to write their own thoughts before those of others. Letters are taught as sounds rather than names.In the classroom alphabet tiles encourage children to trace letters with their fingers. This concept is brought into book form with this board book in which each letter is embossed with a sand-like feel, so children can trace the letters, using the direction arrows. Rather than standard alphabetical order, the letters are grouped by shape, and the sound of each letter is given. The book provides an excellent way for parents to bring Montessori teaching into the home and children will enjoy the bright colour backgrounds and attractive pictures.

Number Work (Montessori) by Bobby and June George

Rather than introducing the number first, Montessori teaches numbers as quantities with number rods that can be manipulated and rearranged. It also uses tactile tiles which enable children to trace the number with their fingers. These concepts are cleverly combined here, with one page of the sturdy board book showing the object - turn over and there is the textured numeral to trace. Along the side of every page is a cumulative red and blue number rod. Again, the bold use of colour and the attractive pictures will appeal to children and the book is an excellent guide for parents who like the Montessori concept but are unsure how to teach it.

Improving Punctuation for Ages 10 - 11 by Andrew Brodie

This is a comprehensive resource that includes all that a teacher needs to help children in Year 6 with spelling. The content is split into 15 targets, giving an excellent focus for lessons and ensuring complete coverage. Examples of targets are 'Remember when to write colons to introduce lists' and 'Remember when to write commas to show contrast in a sentence'. The first page of each target is a large sheet displaying the target - these would make excellent classroom 'aide memoires'. Each target then has three differentiated worksheets, allowing for whole class use, and notes for teachers are included. The accompanying CD ROM contains PDFs of all the sheets for photocopying (permitted on purchase of the book) or whiteboard use.

Improving Punctuation by Andrew Brodie

Also available in the series are Improving Punctuation 5-7 (Book & CD Rom), Improving Punctuation 7-8 (Book & CD Rom), and Improving Punctuation 9-10 (Book & CD Rom) providing a comprehensive resource for primary teaching.

 Wipe Clean ABC from Make Believe Ideas

This is one of the most colourful early ABC books I have seen recently. The neat package includes a wipe off pen plus a set of double sided activity cards which reinforce the letters and words used throughout the book. First of all, there is a double page spread of patterns to trace, which helps early pen control. Then each letter, accompanied by how to draw it.. Words of encouragement through the book help to keep children motivated. A lovely fun way to enjoy learning to write.

Help With Homework Spelling Pad from Autumn Publishing

It's almost impossible for children to get too much help with spelling, so every different approach is valuable and has its place in learning. This test pad, for age 7+,  with its 'yes', 'cool', 'wow' and 'fab' reward stickers is an excellent way to motivate children. There's a wide variety of activities, with appreaches to suit every child. The statement on the back of the book is really important - 'It is recommended that an adult spends time with a child while doing any kind of school practice in order to give encouragement and guidance'.

Help With Homework English Essentials from Autumn Publishing

This book covers the key topics of writing, spelling, grammar and reading. Each exercise has a brief review of the topic, followed by questions designed to make the child think about and reason on the topic. Humorous cartoons illustrate each page, making it fun for children and 'Get it' boxes reinforce learning in a fun way. The books from Autumn Publishing represent exceptional value. 

Help With Homework Maths Revision 9+ from Autumn Publishing

The simple use of colour in these books focusses the child's attention on the work - but it's not boring, as there are fun cartoons for them to enjoy. Designed to support the numeracy skills taught in schools, each topic is covered in a double page spread, which includes useful teaching points as well as questions to answer. Colourful contemporary stickers make a great change from the ubiquitous gold stars! Perhaps your child would like to create a reward chart to show them off? 

First Time Learning 3+ from Autumn Publishing

This really is a bumper book, perfect to prepare children for those all-important days at pre-school. Whatever topic you want to help your child to grasp, you will find some help here. It includes the alphabet, counting 1 to 10, writing and early maths - each section in a different colour to give children continuity. Dip in and out of this big book to keep your child's interest going and to ensure all skills are covered. The pictures are fun and this is an excellent way to make your child's early learning enjoyable.

Starting Phonics (Gold Stars) from Parragon Books

The Gold Stars series from Parragon Books is carefully planned to give progressive help through school, and phonics is an important early skill to grasp. A neat little pen holder (plus pen) sits neatly on the cover, so the pen is always to hand. There are 20 pages of activities, all on shiny wipe clean paper, including rhyming, letter ounds and alphabetical order. It's an attractive book which will encoirage children, and they can repeat activities as their skills grow.

Tricky Words (Wipe Clean Workbook) from Priddy Books

These are commonly used words, I feel, rather than being particularly 'tricky' - but the fact that they are so common makes it very important that children are thoroughly familiar with them. There are practical and colourful exercises to help children learn 20 common  words - they can draw over the word at various levels as writing improves and then complete an additional activity for each word. 'Tricky Witch' has a useful tip for each word, and there are some fun games to play at the end. The spiral binding and sturdy wipe clean pages make for a very practical book.

Letters (Wipe-On Wipe-Off Learning Cards) from Flash Kids

40 generously sized cards to help children learn to write upper and lower case letters - over and over again as they use the pen with eraser which is included. The cards are sturdy and durable, allowing plenty of use as children perfect their skills. The cards are really attractive to use, with their colourful pictures set against bright backgrounds. As well as the letter cards, there are cards featuring sets of pictures, and children have to spot the one beginning with the specified letter - then they can trace over the word on the reverse.  A lovely way to develop writing skills.

Sight Words and Vocabulary (School Skills Ages 6-7) from Parragon Books

This book takes an interesting approach to learning words, by showing the important concept of how words go together - for instance pizza, apple and banana are related as they are things we eat. It's full of a huge variety of fun activities to reinforce the learning of vocabulary and meanings and there are stickers for additional fun. Answers are included. Children need a good vocabulary and this is a super way to extend vocabulary.
It's a great idea to capitalise on children's enthusiasm for storybook or film characters, and this excellent series from Parragon Books makes excellent use of children's interest in Disney characters. The books are created by experts in the field, so you can be sure you are giving your child the best help you can.

School Skills (Wipe-On Wipe-Off Learning Cards) from Flash Kids

These cards offer parents an excellent opportunity to help children with the early concepts they will need when starting school. Colourful pictures are used to illustrate key concepts - opposites, odd one out and rhyming words. The cards wipe clean and a pen is included, so children can keep practising and improving their skills. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of these cards - I was expecting playing card size from the box, but they are actually twice that, giving plenty of scope for young children to draw on the cards.

My Reward Chart Book from Priddy Books

There is no doubt that some children respond excellently to reward charts and they can be a great way to encourage children towards good behaviour. It includes 20 tear-out weekly charts, certificates and more than 600 stickers. There are lots of activities and these help children to understand 'why' they have to do certain things - that is, in itself, an excellent way to motivate children to behave well, as they understand the reason they are asked to do certain things. The book is suitable for children of 3+.

Ready For School Bumper Workbook Ages 5-6 (Gold Stars) from Parragon Books

Children will like the look of these books, with the fun colourful cartoon characters on the covers and through the books - a great way to encourage them. Again, the book is carefully graded to provide progressive learning and to ensure that parents know what their children should be learning at each age. These books offer children plenty of practice, with fun exercises that will reinforce learning. Ideal to use during holidays to ensure no gaps in learning.

Ready For School Bumper Workbook Ages 6-7 (Gold Stars) from Parragon Books

Workbooks can be expensive, but this series is excellent value, and the Bunper Workbooks in particular. This title (as they all do) supports the National Curriculum so parents can be sure that they are reinforcing the work done at school. The colourful and fun approach of the exercises mean that children will not see doing them as a chore. A wide range of maths and English activities are included - English includes phonics and grammar, maths includes the four rules of number and money.

Starting Maths (Gold Stars) from Parragon Books

Give your child a head start in school by enjoying together the activities in this colourful book. They all support the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, so you know you will be helping your child in the best way possible. There is plenty of variety, both in the topics and in the way they are presented. Award your child gold stars (included) and enhance learning with the colourful poster. So much early maths learning is done through incidental learning, as parent and child go about their everyday lives; the ideas in this book can be used to generate more learning opportunities.

Telling the Time (Gold Stars Ages 6-7) from Parragon Books

This will be welcomed by many parents, as we are so often asked for books that help with learning to tell the time. I like the slim format of this book - it feels neat and comfortable to hold. despite the slim size, it manages to pack in over 100 colourful and interesting activitioes carefully designed to reinforce learning to tell the time. The activities are varied and encourage children to think about the questions - for example, the pages which ask about 'before or after'. Many of the activities also help literacy and numeracy skills too. Excellent value.

English (Gold Stars Ages 9-11) from Parragon Books

Parragon Books have produced a huge range in the Gold Stars series which are excellent for supporting school work. This title includes spelling, grammar and punctuation; reading comprehension; and writing composition - key topics children need to do well in their KS2 SATS - and in all aspects of learning. Like all the books in the series, it is colourful and attractive, amking learning appealing. A special feature of this title is the pull out booklet which contains 20 tests - they are only short, so are perfect for a child to do at the end of the school day - or even to do just one a day during the holidays to keep learning going.

Maths, English and Science Bumper Workbook (Gold Stars Ages 7-9) from Parragon Books

This book is amazingly good value - it is a bind-up of workbooks in maths, English and science and contains 192 pages of colourful activities to reinforce learning (all of which support the National Curriculum) - plus the answers! Not just a workbook, though - it also includes plenty of useful tips to remind the child about what they have learnt perviously - the science section especially is excellent for revision. The activities are fun, with lots of opportunities for children to fill in the answers and plenty of cartoon-style illustrations are included to keep interest alive. The huge variety of topics covered in the book make it ideal to dip into as required.

Oxford First Dictionary

OUP have a well deserved reputation for producing excellent dictionaries for children and this one is an excellent way to introduce children to the concept of using a dictionary. It is so important that children find it easy and enjoyable to use a dictionary beacuse this builds a firm foundation for enjoying words and language. Carefully laid out, from the use of letters down the outside of each page, to the page headers which help children to break down the alphabetical order of words, and on to the variation in font size and choice of colourful and often amusing pictures. Interesting facts - for example, two types of forks, are included, which make the dictionary fun just to dip into - and perhaps for children to learn just a few new words each day.

Go Figure by Daniel Smith

As a teenager, I decided that maths was boring and completely incomprehensible - if I had read this book, I would have changed my mind!  We all need maths in our daily lives and this book is designed to refresh thinking about maths. You can either dip into it, reminding yourself about such tricky topics as trigonometry, or start at the beginning with basic number work. All through, the explanations are clearly explained with examples. Then - you test your understanding with the quizzes which liberally besprinkle the book (one or more for every topic and answers are included). This book is an excellent way to help students revise and brilliant for those of us who find maths daunting.

 From Zero to Infinity (And Beyond) by Dr Mike Goldsmith

Packed with fascinating facts, all described in the interesting way we have come to expect from Buster Books. Whether you love or hate maths, this book will intrigue and entertain you and old alike. Why is zero useful? What is a googol? How did a shadow clock work? Find out how maths has changed the course of history and how famous people of the past have put it to use. A super book to dip into and you are guaranteed lots of fun facts to entertain your friends. Understanding the importance of maths will help children who wonder why they have to do maths.

What's Maths All About? edited by Rosie Dickins

Next time your child comes home asking 'Why do I have to do maths?' get this book out! Many parents ask us for help with maths, as maths teaching is always changing and they don't want to confuse their children. Maths is not just about numbers - it is also about shapes, amounts and patterns. We learn how maths has changed the world and its importance in our everyday lives. The book is packed with information which helps understanding of all aspects of maths, with plenty of tips to help with questions. The explanations are clear and understandable and the book is presented in such a way that it makes a very interesting read. The humorous illustrations and speech bubbles enliven the book and go to show that maths is not boring. I found it a really interesting read. Read more on the Usborne site.

English Made Easy: Early Reading Skills by Carol Vorderman 

It's never too early to start your child learning language and reading skills, and this, with its companion English Made Easy Early Writing Preschool Ages 3-5 (Carol Vorderman's English Made Easy) is an excellent starting point. Lots of enjoyable activities, including matching activities and a story to share, make learning to read fun and give an excellent foundation. The useful feature of this series is the inclusion of a pull-out section of notes for parents. It is valuable to do the exercises, but knowing how to make the most of them maximises the value. The notes include how to make the most of each exercise. 

Spelling for School (Homework Helpers) from Ladybird Books

Sometimes a quick and easy reference guide is all that children need for help with spelling, then they are not daunted by an overload of information. This book covers the basics they need - key rules and facts to help children to spell words correctly. Confidence is the key to encouraging fluent writing and this book will give children confidence. The attractive layout, amusing illustrations and plenty of examples will all encourage children. This useful and good value series also includes Homework Helpers: Grammar and Punctuation for School and Homework Helpers: Times Tables for School.

ABCs (Get Ready for Reception) by Penny Dowdy 

I was going to put this book in our Handwriting section - but then I realised how much more there is to the book than just handwriting. Handwriting is here, with clear instructions on how to write each letter, along with space to practise. With one colourful page per letter, children have pictures to recognise and an activity related to each letter. The books in this series are excellent value and the four together will give your child a head start for Reception - Numbers and Counting (Get Ready for Reception), Colours and Opposites (Get Ready for Reception) and Colours and Opposites (Get Ready for Reception). Get them all!

 Pull-the-Tab Times Tables! by Nat Lambert

This series is a fun way for children to learn  - and, importantly, to keep practising - mathematical concepts. It comes from Top That Publishing who produce some lovely and innovative books. Each book has a pull down tab which displays the answers when pulled. The quality is good - the durable shiny board pages will withstand plenty of use, so children can use the books over and over again to ensure those important number facts are well drummed in.
Times Tables is designed for children in key stage 2. Tables from 2 to 12 are included in colourful pages with amusing cartoon illustrations. Learning tables doesn't need to be boring any more! 

 Pull-the-Tab Dividing Sums! by Nat Lambert

Help children in key stage 2 to learn division with this sturdy colourful interactive book. Do the sum then check the answer by pulling down the tab. When all the sums are thoroughly learnt, check with the lucky dip at the end. Division can be a hard concept to master, so make it fun with this book! 

Pull-the-Tab Taking Away! by Nat Lambert

Designed to support subtraction in KS1, this is a fun and colourful way to learn essential skills. Children have the opportunity to repeat their sums over and over again until they are totally secure in their knowledge. Fun cartoon pictures add to the enjoyment. There's a lucky dip at the end and an instant answer matrix.


 Pull-the-Tab Adding Up! by Nat Lambert

Adding Up is a colourful and fun way for key stage 1 children to learn addition skills. It fits with the KS1 learning objectives, so you can be sure you are supporting your child's school work in the right way. Numbers for 1 to 10 are included - just pull the tab to see if ypu are right! And there's a lucky dip at the end for more random number practice.

 First Illustrated Maths Dictionary by Kirsteen Rogers

Parents are often confused about the best way to help their children with maths as maths teaching seems to change so quickly. This practical book includes over 500 definitions of key mathematical terms. It starts with numbers and moves on to shape and space, measuring and data. Get yourself a copy of this book, and next time your child has homework on tree diagrams, symmetry or number lines (and lots more) you will have the confidence to help. Colourfully laid out with plenty of pictures to illustrate the concepts. Not a dictionary in the strictest sense as it is not in alphabetical order, but the index provides quick access to any topic. Practical and easy to use.

Improving Spelling 5 - 6 by Andrew Brodie

This series from AC Black provides a complete spelling programme based on Letters and Sounds at Key Stage 1 and on into Key Stage 2. This title features 46 sets of word lists focusing on specific digraphs, trigraphs and four-letter graphemes. These are presented in two formats, to provide variety and support different learning styles. It is valuable in the fact that the year-by-year progression enables you to know what your child should be able to spell at each age -  Improving Spelling 6-7 (Improving Comprehension),  Improving Spelling 7-8 (Improving Comprehension), Improving Spelling 8-9 (Improving Comprehension), Improving Spelling 9-10 (Improving Comprehension) and Improving Spelling 10-11 (Improving Comprehension). Each book includes a CD-ROM, ideal for classroom use.

School Fail: Hilarious Howlers from School from Michael O'Mara Books

Yes, I know this book won't actually help with that tricky homework, but it will give a well-deserved and very entertaining break! Packed with a wide range of classroom howlers, some of the things children say are almost unbelievable. The hilarious quotes, covering a wide range of subjects, are complemented by specially commissioned cartoons. And if you get distracted by the book and don't complete your homework how about this for an excuse? "It was a cloudy weekend and I have a solar powered calculator." Perfect to fill awkward gaps in a conversation or to help skate over tricky moments. Great fun!

So You Really Want to Learn Junior Science Book 3 by Sue Hunter

Written for Year 5 pupils, this is an excellent resource for all KS2 science studies. It does lead into Galore Park's series for older pupils but is also an excellent resource on its own. Key topics are covered, in a clear and informative manner, and these are followed by test exercises or practical activities - how about making your own fire extinguisher? Junior Science Book 3 Answers accompanies the book. "Galore Park is the leading publisher of educational textbooks for pupils studying at independent schools and is the sole distributor of ISEB Common Entrance papers for 11+ and 13+. Our range of textbooks, revision guides and ISEB Common Entrance papers offer the most comprehensive choice for pupils who are not restricted by the National Curriculum and especially those who are being prepared for Common Entrance, scholarship or entrance exams at 11+ or 13+. Our resources are rigorous and challenging and encourage students to achieve their very best."

So You Really Want to Learn Junior English Book 3 by Andrew Hammond

Written for Year 5 pupils, this provides the fundamentals of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Lively reading passages drawn from a wide selection of texts and suggestions for further reading combine with challeging exercises and 'Other things to do'. Clear explanations of topics are followed by exercises to reinforce learning. The range of comprehension exercises is good - we are so often asked for comprehension texts. Plenty of variety in the book means English won't be perceived as 'boring'! Attractively presented, with lots of colour illustrations and photographs. Parents confident in their grasp of English may be able to help children with their answers, otherwise you will need Junior English Book 3 Answer Book

So You Really Want to Learn Geography Book 2 by James Dale-Adcock

An excellent book, written for Year 8,  for preparation for the geography element of Common Entrance, written by someone who obviously has vast experience in his field - the exam tips and chapter on exam technique are particularly useful. There are chapters on map reading, landforms, weather and climate, settlement and location. The book includes more challenging scholarship level questions too. So you really want to learn Geography Book 2 Answers provides the answers to the questions in this book and So You Really Want to Learn Geography Book 1: A Textbook for Key Stage 3 and Common Entrance covers Year 7 material.

Maths Practice Exercises 13+ by David E Hanson

This is perfect preparation for pupils working towards Common Entrance and entrance exams at 13+. It is also useful for general KS3 revision. Material is arranged by topic and  written in the style of an ISEB exam paper ensuring pupils are familiar with the exam format - this is key to confidence when taking the exams. This book can be used to consolidate the knowledge required for the exam, and ensure pupils secure those top grades. Answers are provided in  Maths Practice Exercises 13+: Answer Book (Common Entrance Practice Exercises at 11+/13+)

Learn ICT: Spreadsheets, Graphs and Charts by Anne Rooney 

This is an excellent guide to help parents understand what may well be the mysteries of spreadsheets, graphs and charts. Written in easy-to-understand language, this book (and the rest in this very good series) will be welocomed by both parents and children. The pages are clearly laid out and liberally sprinkled with examples, so the reader can see exactly how each stage of the process should look. It is not dry reading at all, but the topics are put over in a really interesting way that is bound to stimulate discussion and generate enthusiasm. There are lots of hands-on activities and projects for children to undertake which will make learning fun.

Write Stuff: Creative Writing for Girls by Holly Brook-Piper

Boys and girls have very differing interests - that goes without saying! It is great therefore to see two books, one for girls and one for boys, encouraging creative writing. Both books are perfect for KS2 pupils. It starts with story planning; continues with writing exercises;and  moves on to developing the story. This is followed by different writing genres - poetry, free verse, reporting, travel writing and comics. Finally - a section just for the child's own work. The books are attractively presented, with fold-flat spiral binding, each section is tabbed for easy reference, and there is lots of space for children's own work. An excellent way to inspire writing.

The Murderous Maths of Everything by Kjartan Poskitt

Who said maths can't be fun? A full colour book from the author of the popular Murderous Maths series from Scholastic Books, this is packed with fun ways of increasing maths skills. The reader is taken on a tour of the Murderous Maths building where a huge range of activities are going on - there are murderous pennies, infinite flowers and exact eggs, how to win a load of money... the list goes on. Each mathematical concept is clearly explained, there are activities to try out and links to related topics. Kjartan Poskitt has a real passion for maths and this comes across wonderfully in all his books, and never better than in this one. Brilliant cartoons add to the fun. A super book for home or school use.

Is Their Alot Wrong With This Centence? by Daniel Smith

If you love the English language, this is the book for you. Subtitled  'An English Grammar Workbook', this is a fascinating guide to the correct use of our language. We all need to be able to use language to express ourselves correctly, be it in exams, for job applications, writing letters and articles - the list is endless. So many problems arise through lack of practise - use of texts and emails makes us lazy! The good thing about this book is that, as well as explaining the principles, there are lots of questions and exercises to ensure that the information has really sunk in - we all learn better when we use what we learn. There are 103 quizzes which are great fun to do withg other people. Well-written, entertaining and informative, this is an excellent book for all age groups and would make a great gift.

How To Write Poems by Wes Magee

This series from QED Publishing, subtitled 'Pin Your Ideas to the Page' is so useful. It addresses brilliantly a question we are so often asked - 'How can I help my child with writing?'.Written in an approachable and easy-to-follow style, with activities and suggestions, this series would be great for families to have at home to help with homework. Each includes an index and glossary and a page of useful tips for parents and teachers.
When children come home and say 'I have to write a poem', parents can panic. Poetry does not come easily to many of us, but this book makes it simple to understand the basic concepts and make a start. It covers different kinds of poetry, getting ideas, rhyme and rhythm, how words sound and much more. Clearly presented, children can work through the ideas and produce poetry of which they can be proud.

 How To Write Reports by Anne Faundez

Factual writing is an important skill for children to acquire and it is helpful for SATS. This book covers skills which will be useful in writing projects for school as well as reports for use in writing reports. Sometimes the hardest thing is to reduce the amount of information to manageable proportions and this books gives excellent guidance on doing this. Different types of factual writing, and the differing approaches needed, include project writing, persuasive writing, recount writing and reports. An excellent guide.

How To Write Stories by Celia Warren

Creative writing - we are so often asked for help! This book answers so many questions and is full of inspiring ideas to make story writing possible for every child. You can boost their confidence by using the ideas in this book and that in itself will be a huge boost to aspiring writers. There is help on starting a story, creating believable characters, planning a story, pace and timing and much more. This series is clearly presented - boxes of information are clearly laid out and there is not an overload of information. Plenty of use of colour make the books attractive. A really valuable series. 

How To Write Letters and Emails by Celia Warren 

The art of letter-writing is in danger of being lost with modern methods of communication, so I like the fact this book focuses on letter writing and emails. Children still need to write letters - from those all-important thank you letters, to having the necessary skills to hand once they move on and need to write applications. Particularly useful are the ideas on layout and presentation, and the clear layout of the book itself is an excellent example. I recommend this series to all parents and teachers.

Homework Help for Mums and Dads by Karen Dolby 

Subtitled 'Help Your Child Succeed', this book sets out to help parents to know the best ways to help their children with homework - without doing it for them! So many parents want to help with homework but are unsure about the teaching methods used in school. This excellent guide is aimed at parents of children from 7 up and covers numeracy, literacy and science in depth, and also helps with history, geography and ICT, all in a way tyhat makes learning fun. Maths is an area of particular concern to parents as so much has changed since they were at school. The key topics are covered with clear, succinct explanations and plenty of diagrams. Literacy and science are covered in equal depth. In all topics, there are clear definitions given of the vocabulary, and there are useful tips from parents and teachers.This is a reassuring and practical read for parents - well worth getting a copy.


The Fear of Maths and How to Overcome It by Steve Chinn

We all use maths in our everyday lives and this book reassures us that we probably remember more of our school maths than we think we do. It is designed to build on those skills and give parents confidence in their own mathematical skills so these can be passed on to their children. We all need maths and this is a book packed with information.A helpful introduction is followed by chapters focussing on a series of key skills. THere is also an interesting dyscalculia checklist.  If you are serious about improving your maths skills, and prepared to invest some time, this is the book for you.

Everyday English by Michelle Finlay

English is a complex language full of pitfalls for the unwary. This book sets out to demystify and help us all - native speakers or not - to use English clearly and correctly. In our modern world, correct use of English often gets overlooked - read this authorative yet readable book to ensure you and your children use clear and correct English. This is particularly important in formal situations, such as applying for college or employment, but if we sue English correctly all the time, it will become second nature. The book covers basic parts of speech, sentences, punctuation, spelling, pronunciation and communication. An excellent book, which I found easy to read - can be used to dip in and out or read through by anyone with an interest in the English language.

My First Ladybird Thesaurus

A thesaurus - dry and boring? Not this one! This is the perfect first thesaurus to encourage children to use a variety of words in their speech and writing. It is so important to encourage use of thesaurii and dictionaries from a young age and this, along with its companion My First Ladybird Dictionary is the perfect way to do this. Each word has a usage suggestion thus helping children to choose the most appropriate word. The font is clear and child-freindly and there is plenty of white space as well as illustrations to keep interest up. The alphabet along the side of each page is an excellent device to help learning.

 Phonics Workbook 1 from Usborne Books

This colourful book, packed with activities, is an excellent learning resource for early phonics, featuring the letters s,a t, p, i, n, m and d. Carefully constructed, the activities ensure that each letter is fully understood before moving on to the next. Activities include colouring, tracing, saying sounds - and lots of colourful stickers to reinforce learning in a fun way. There are helpful notes for parents at the beginning to ensure that childrenget the maximum possible benefit. Three more books complete the set.

Activity Flash Cards Animals by Roger Priddy 

Another brightly coloured and attractive aid to early learning from Priddy Books. 26 sturdy shiny double sided cards, featuring a wide range of amimals, all depicted in lovely full colour photos against bright backgrounds.Under each photo is the name of the animal, followed by the name outlined for children to write over. The wipe clean cards and pen (supplied) mean these can be used over and over again.  A super way to help children learn to read as well, as you share the flashcards.

 Activity Flash Cards Words by Roger Priddy

Another colourful set of wipe-clean flashcards - this set to help children learn to write words. Like Animals, the cards are packed in a clear plastic slip case, to keep them clean and to store them together with the pen, which is included. Help to develop writing skills and fine motor skills for Foundation Stage children (3+0). With a bit of imagination, I am sure you could think of some fun games to play with these cards too! Super sets which will really stimulate learning.

 You Can Do It! Spelling by Andy Seed

One of the most commonly asked questions on Parents in Touch is 'How can I help my child with spelling?' This book is a great resource for children and adults. It covers all the common spelling problems, for example words easily confused, apostrophes and silent letters. It is also packed full of strategies to help with spelling such as the look-say-cover-write-check method and useful rules. Split into sections under the topics above and lots more, on each page, you will find a key point , examples to show correct usage, and a summary at the end. All this, generously embellished with lots of cartoons and jokes, adds up to a really readable and fun way of learning a vital skill, in a way that is both memorable and enjoyable.

You Can Do It! Grammar by Andy Seed 

The Odd Mob make a dry subject really fun in this book. Grammar can be tricky to grasp but sometimes it can be embarrassing to keep asking questions, so just pick up this handy guide to help with all those uncertainties. The book covers all the key parts of speech and how to use them, divided into easy to manage sections. Plenty of fun to read as you follow the Odd Mob through the 'stories' in the book. It could be read for fun, whilst picking up loads of useful facts on the way - the sort of book that will have children saying 'I didn't know that' - and then hopefully, remembering it. Try Punctuation (You Can Do It), as well.

Wipe Clean First Letters by Stacey Lamb

This attractive book will give your child plenty of letter-writing practice. The sturdy wipe-clean pages and the pen supplied will last for ages. This is not just a boring list of letters to go over and over again, but a series of shapes and letters integrated into the colourful scenes - a treasure island, space, the beach and many more. The letters are grouped by shape and difficulty, thus ensuring a confident start - after all, a is a hard letter to start with! The first page features v, w, x and z and there are zigzag shapes as well as the letters to be discovered on the picture. Moving on, the next page introduces curves with i, k and l. The groupings continue through to c,s and e at the end - and then the whole aplhabet is there.  A really well thought-out book that children will love.

 Times Tables - Wipe Clean Workbook by Roger Priddy

The concept of wipe-clean books is super. Children can try and try again, and they enjoy the wiping off as much as anything! Learning tables is absolutely essential - it is the key to studying maths. This is a practical and easy to use book, with lie-flat binding and durable pages. Children are progressively taken through the learning of tables, starting with 'sets' to count then multiply. Each table is then illustrated by picture 'sets' to introduce the concept, followed bt the table to complete (over and over!) and learn. A colourful and child-friendly book.

 Tell the Time - Wipe Clean Workbook by Roger Priddy

26 pages of practical exercises to help children grasp the important concept of learning to tell the time. It is not always easy for parents to know how to teach their children to tell the time, so this book will prove to be very helpful. It starts by introducing children to the numbers on the clock face and continues with o'clock. 'My Day' gives children the opportunity to put time into context with their activities. 5 minute steps, talking the time, quarter hours are all covered. The book ends with practical activities to help children understand many concepts around telling the time. Clearly explained and colourful, this is a super book.

Phonics - Wipe Clean Workbook by Roger Priddy

Help your child with early phonics with this clear and colourful wipe-clean book - complete with pen. Lots of pictures of familiar objects, letters to trace, sounds to identify, rhyming words and a table of words at the end so children get the satisfaction of demonstrating their knowledge.
We all know that children need to repeat and reinforce work to learn effectively, so this series of wipe-clean books from Priddy Books  is excellent for children of 3+ to start learning at home. Try some more in the series 
Numbers 1-20 [With Wipe Clean Pen] (Wipe Clean Workbooks)
Tracing and Pen Control [With Wipe Clean Pen] (Wipe Clean Workbooks)
Uppercase Alphabet [With Wipe Clean Pen] (Wipe Clean Workbooks)


Cutting and Pasting - Motor Skills Workbook by Roger Priddy

All children love cutting and sticking and whilst they are having fun, they are actually developing really important motor skills. It Starts with lines to cut along and then develops the skills with pictures to cut out and stick onto colourful pictures. These develop in complexity and the child can create some really good pictures by the end. Hours of fun for children of 3+.

 William's Words in Science by Dr William Hirst

This book is cram-packed with useful information for KS3 students and is an invaluable resource for both home and school. The main part of the book is a dictionary which gives the scientific meanings of all the words a student is likely to encounter. This is supported by a wealth of other material - biographies of over 150 scientists and a section of 'really useful information', such as abbreviations, chemical formulae, the periodic table and some very useful mnemonics to remember those key scientific facts. The final section is encyclopaedic definitions and illustrations, cross-referenced to the dictionary section. This is a really well-thought out reference book and I think it would continue to be useful throughout KS4 too. It even comes with a protective cover! See the SmallWords website for more resources.

 Write Every Time (or should that be right?) by Lottie Stride

English can be really tricky to grasp, so this book is just the answer! Ideal to dip in and out when you have a question, or to read right through - and I can gaurantee that, at some point, you will say "I didn't know that!" Full of fascinating snippets of information, this is far from being a dry guide and is perfect for all lovers of the English language. With the current concern over literacy levels, we all need to encourage children (and not least, by our own good example) to be diligent over correct use of English. The book covers grammar, spelling and punctuation and is full of examples of correct usage. Buster Books publish many more great titles, so take a look at their website.

Tutor Master helps you write stories Book 1 

One of the questions we are commonly asked is 'How can I help my children write stories?'. The book starts with a brief outline of the parts of speech and goes on to include a comprehensive list of the emotions which can be expressed through stories - a useful starting point. Tutor Master tells us that stories must have a beginning, a middle and an end, and then takes us through a range of common themes for stories to inspire children.


Tutor Master helps you write stories Book 2 

This book develops the ideas started in Book 1 and encourages young writers by telling them everyone has stories worth telling. Different styles of writing are introduced to enable children to make their stories more interesting. As in Book 1, there are 20 story plans to help the young writer gain inspiration. The book ends with ideas on writing a book review.

 Tutor Master helps you with Comprehension Practice Standard Set 1

David Malindine has compiled these books to help students in Years 5 to 7 with comprehension. They are useful for all, but will be particularly valuable to those preparing for Common Entrance and 11+ tests which include English. It is essential that all children can read and make sense of the written word and these books are the ideal aid to reinforce learning and find possible areas for improvement. There are five comprehension passages designed to appeal to differing interests, and 10 suggested essay titles. The answers are given, but with the proviso, in many cases, that the marker should decide.

 Tutor Master helps you with Comprehension Practice Multiple Choice Set 1

This set is particularly useful as it familiarises children with the multi-choice format that they may meet in some exams. Again, there are five comprehension passages and 10 essay titles. Although the passages are the same, the essay titles are different and the comprehension questions take a totally fresh approach. It's worth checking which format your child will be tested on. Useful tests for spelling, punctuation and grammar are inluded.

 Tutor Master helps you learn English - a literacy dictionary

This book is a wonderful support for KS2 students and above. It explains over 500 words related to English and literacy and will be really useful to parents helping their children. If your child comes home saying 'I've got to write a cinquain....or a clerihew.....or a haiku' then this is the book to ensure you know what they are talking about. I partcularly like the examples given in separate boxes, making the meaning of the term absolutely clear. It will also be useful to those for whom English is not the first language. An invaluable aid - highly recommended and excellent value.


 Science Homework Book 1

Thisis the perfect resource to support the new QCA Programme of Study and the new Framework for Science. The book provides exciting and varied activities for all levels in order to ensure good progress and success for every student at Key Stage 3.

KS3 mathematics - Homework Handbook

This book is set out in an easy-to-use alphabetical style, with useful cross-references, to guide students as they work on homework assignments. Written by experienced teachers, this book is curriculum based, and concentrates on popular homework topics and the areas where students often have most difficulty.

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