Book Review: Comprehension Ninja
Written by Andrew Jennings
48 pages each
Published by Bloomsbury
Publication date: 11th June 2020
Comprehension Ninja Workbooks are ideal for supporting your child’s learning at home. With bespoke non-fiction texts and hundreds of questions, they’re packed full of comprehension practice with strong links to the National Curriculum.
Created by trusted author and teacher Andrew Jennings, they’re perfect for developing those all-important literacy skills at home and for boosting children’s confidence in reading comprehension.
Buy a copy on Amazon.
First impressions: I was really excited to see these because I love Vocabulary Ninja and use it in my classroom to introduce lots of new vocabulary to my students.
I lead Reading Resources at school so I am also always on the look-out for new books to add to our library, as well as exciting ways to help improve our pupils’ reading comprehension.
I specifically had a look at the Comprehension Ninja workbooks for ages 7-8, Year 3, as that is the year group I currently teach and the Age 10-11, Year 6, as I wanted to see how the pitch changes from the beginning to the end of Key Stage 2 and our Year 6 teachers are always grateful for a greater variety of texts to use.
I was immediately impressed by the selection of subjects covered and the clear layout of tasks, allowing for practise of the myriad of skills that make a successful reader. I also really liked the clear instructions for parents or educators using these workbooks.
Studies have shown that prior knowledge is just as important as reading ability in tests of comprehension, as the more a pupil knows the greater the depth of their understanding of the text. Making links to prior knowledge can help pupils to draw out inferences or make educated guesses when unsure of something. For this reason it is important that pupils not only practice skills related to comprehension, such as skimming and scanning, but that they also read a wide variety of texts and improve their general knowledge. As Dr Seuss said, ‘The more that you read, the more that you’ll know, the more that you know the more places you’ll go! ‘ That still remains true!
One thing we do as a school is ensure that our pupils have a rich diet of different books, text types and non-fiction learning, as well as keeping up to date with current events. We do this by ensuring a broad provision of different texts throughout lessons in school, as well as encouraging reading for pleasure (that’s a whole series of other lbog posts!)
As curriculum learning is often spread out across a key stage, the learning that each school might do in a particular year group may differ, particularly when it comes to Science or History.
For this reason, in these particular books, some of the topics covered in the comprehensions aimed St Year 6 are actually topics we study in Year 3. However, although it would be nice to have age-appropriate texts for every topic, it could also serve as a good reminder to see who in Year 6 can remember what they learned about the Battle of Hastings or plant adaptations, to name just a few.
Each text was clearly laid out and followed by a series of tasks that were both clear and allowed practise at key reading skills, supporting children to gain fluency and confidence in these skills as well as familiarising them with the format they are likely to see in standardised texts.
These books are a fantastic resource to help improve pupil’s reading comprehension skills in a way that builds confidence and fluency,
What I liked: Clear layout, good variety of texts with each teaching factual knowledge as well as allowing for the practise of key skills, a clear progression of skills in the activities following each text, therefore supporting the pupil to gain confidence as each repeated reading of the text focuses on a specific skill, while improving familiarity with the content of the text. Similar activities in the workbook from Year 3 – Year 6 helps pupils to become familiar with the test format, as well as allowing them to build confidence in each type of task.
Even better if: Perhaps if the age levels were more tightly linked to the topics covered in that year group, although I appreciate that schools differ in where they place topics across the key stage.
How you could use these in your classroom: These would be a great resource for anyone hoping to support their child’s development in reading at home, although I firmly believe that the best thing you can do for your child is just read, read, read, as much as possible. Read to them, alongside them and ensure they always ahve access to a wide range of texts.
The clear instructions in these books make them easy to pick up and teach from without much preparation, therefore making them invaluable for busy parents. The strong focus on vocabulary development as well as the repetition of key reading skills will ensure that children using these books will not only learn the information in the texts, but become fluent in a range of different reading skills.
These would be a worthy addition to any classroom or homeschooling setup.
About the Author:
Andrew Jennings has been teaching in schools for nine years and is an assistant headteacher. He has always been engaged in the design aspect of resources and systems and has developed high-impact arithmetic and reading systems for primary schools. Andrew launched Vocabulary Ninja in April 2017 to improve the levels of understanding and confidence of pupils as well as Key Stage 2 outcomes. Since then he has gained thousands of fans and published the bestselling Vocabulary Ninja book. Follow Andrew on Twitter at: @VocabularyNinja.
What did other people think?
Don;t miss the other stops on the blog tour!
Monday 22nd June
Tuesday 23rd June
Wednesday 24th June
Thursday 25th June
Friday 26th June
(Thank you very much to Faye and Bloomsbury for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and for my review copies!)
Thanks for reading!