Book Review: Opening Doors to Famous Poetry and Prose by @BobCox_SFE

BobCoxBookReviewFeature1When we are exposed to great writers and great writing, we’re all capable of discovering something deeper, more imaginative and more enduring. Getting to this stage of deep understanding can be quite a challenge for teachers and pupils who may have an excess of books, authors and genres to explore over a school year. Many will only have time to scratch the surface of many texts, without questioning or reading between the lines – exploring the fabric of a text. In fact, many historic texts are dismissed by educators as being too challenging for their pupils, yet the gems and challenges that these offers can open up a deep world of wonder and creativity inside, helping us make sense of the madness around us.

In his fantastic new classroom resource book, Opening Doors to Famous Poetry and Prose, Bob Cox focuses on these – possibly unassuming – genres that also can lead to deeper thinking, learning and creative thinking. Split into three sections (poetry, prose and poetry for writing); Cox offers teachers a tremendous bank of authors, extracts and poems that many will never have previously encountered. Robert Louis Stevenson; Emily Dickinson; H.G. Wells; Lewis Carroll; Charlotte Brontë are just a few of the more familiar names given measured attention. However, introducing poetic gems from Harold Monro, Edward Thomas, and Charlotte Mew certainly opens up new teaching opportunities for the less confident.

Bob Cox supports teachers through each poem or extracts in this book, with our illustration taken from ‘The Call’ by Charlotte Mew which offers an opportunity for imaginative thinking, creativity and stimulus for pupils to create a poem with a mysterious or tense atmosphere, starting with…

Tonight we heard a call,

A rattle on the window pane,

A voice on the sharp air,

And felt a breath stirring our hair,

A flame within us: Something swift and tall

Swept in and out and that was all.

Extract ‘The Call’ by Charlotte Mew

…and then guiding teachers with the use of resources and ‘javelin questions’ – which are aimed at linking between reading the poem and leaping into writing – the aim is to give pupils the wings to fly, developing their own understanding and pieces of work that should give them a colossal sense of pride.

We could go on. This book has been created with Primary (pupils aged 7-11) pupils in mind, with the ideas, resources and texts within being challenging, but accessible. Pupils at this age can quickly get absorbed in a text, yet it is easy to ‘do it to death’ which turns children off and become less focused. Cox strikes the balance effectively, with the activities and extensions certainly useful for a teacher who wishes to challenge their pupils and give permission to fly.

The book contains twenty units, including:

Part 1: Opening doors to poetry

  1. Voices on the Sharp Air – ‘The Call’ by Charlotte Mew
  2. Sunset – ‘Great City’ by Harold Monro
  3. The Abbot and the Rover – ‘The Inchcape Rock’ by Robert Southey
  4. Sickness – ‘The Land of Counterpane’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. Paths of Mystery – ‘The Path’ by Edward Thomas
  6. Zero at the Bone – ‘Snake’ by Emily Dickinson

Part 2: Opening doors to prose

  1. Moon Seeds – The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells
  2. A Ghastly Waxwork – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  3. Through Beauty’s Eyes – Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  4. Code Breaking – A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
  5. Playing Cards in Wonderland – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  6. Windswept Pavilion – ‘The Pavilion on the Links’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
  7. The Face and Hands of a Vampire – Dracula by Bram Stoker
  8. Fire at Thornfield – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  9. Whirlpool! – ‘Descent into the Maelström’ by Edgar Allan Poe

Part 3: The other side of the door: poetry for writing

  1. The Crag and the Sea – ‘The Eagle’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  2. Images in a Candle Flame – ‘Old Furniture’ by Thomas Hardy
  3. Horses Born with Eagles’ Wings – ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ by Robert Browning
  4. I Shot an Arrow … – ‘The Arrow and the Song’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  5. Cat Moments – ‘The Kitten and Falling Leaves’ by William Wordsworth

Opening Doors both informs and excites. It contains everything you need for outstanding English lessons, including a free CD full of resources for primary English, including extracts from the literary works and activities to get started with.

Opening Doors to Famous Poetry and Prose – Ideas and Resources for Accessing Literary Heritage Works by Bob Cox is published by Crown House Publishing, with a RRP of £19.99.

The book is also available for purchase via Amazon. Click on the image below…

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About @digicoled 255 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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