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Reading Across the World - Miriam Moss

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StorySession3 250x190The Reading Force team asked me if I’d be available to work with forces children at Hornbill School in Brunei in March this year. As a forces child myself, I was delighted to hear more about Reading Force; how it encourages families to read together, talk about books and fill in scrapbooks about the books they’ve shared. Families do this together at home and when a parent is away on deployment or exercise.

After our 16-hour flight to Brunei, we - Alison Baverstock and Elaine Boorman from Reading Force and I - were met at the airport and whisked off to our hotel by Terri Turton, the trip’s organiser at Hornbill School. The next day she returned to take us on a boat trip. We visited the floating village in Bandar and searched up river in mangrove swamps for crocodiles and proboscis monkeys. Tom Palmer, the other UK-based author, flew in that evening.

Hornbill School (OFSTED outstanding) is in the centre of the HQ Brunei Garrison community, BFPO 11. It caters for a wonderful mix of children, as it is the result of a very successful merger in 2003 of the Seria Service Children’s School and the Gurkha Children’s English School. While we were visiting, many of the fathers were away on exercise in Kenya.

The school day at Hornbill starts early and finishes at 1.30pm before it gets too hot. Teapot 160x178So we were collected at 7am each morning, and driven past white egrets hunting for frogs on grass verges, past the teapot roundabout, to Hornbill School.

On the first day, we were greeted royally by being given a bindi and a Nepalese silk scarf, and entertained by a wonderful drumming session. WelcomePeaceGarden 450x162Then we were shown round the stunning school grounds which included the ‘Peace Garden’ full of palm trees, cloud-shaped bougainvillea and frangipani bushes. 

My role as a picture book author was to inspire the children from Nursery to Year 2 with interactive reading sessions including songs and roleplay, and writing workshops.

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In this class, the children drew their own story, following the pattern in my Bare Bear story that we had just shared.

In another class I shared a story about Billy Bear and his favourite toy rabbit. As you can see, on that day the teachers and children were all dressed up as characters from books! After the story the children designed their own rabbits.

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Miriam Hornbill JungleSong 300x195I finished the week with a percussion extravaganza in the hall with the whole of Year 2, based around my book Junglesong
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By the end of the week, every child in the school had had two sessions with either Tom Palmer or me, and had also been given one of our books by Reading Force. Here are some children reading Doctor Molly’s Magic Medicine Case

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My days at Hornbill were both full and colourful, and I had an amazing time working with all the wonderful children and the warm, dedicated staff.

Thank you so much for asking me to come with you Reading Force!

Miriam Moss

Miriam Moss is an award winning author of over 75 books, including 30 picture books, poetry and short stories, with wide experience of working creatively with children and adults throughout the UK and abroad. Miriam's latest picture book is 'Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case' (Walker Books).

Picture above: Miriam Moss (far right) standing next to Alison Baverstock (Reading Force founder), RF team member Elaine Boorman, and children's author, Tom Palmer.



Schools are turning Red, White & Blue this October

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RWB Day image 300x222 On Friday 9th October 2015 pupils in schools all over the UK will be showing their support for soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families, by dressing up in Red, White & Blue and donating £1 each.

Red, White & Blue Day is held every year and in 2015 will be taking place on 9th October, or any day of your choice during October & November. This year the event will feature specially created lesson plans and films which tell the story of how the RAF beat back the Luftwaffe from the skies of England during September 1940. The Battle of Britain also saw the start of "The Blitz", the German bombing campaign that attacked many cities across the UK.

If your school isn’t registered yet it’s not too late to get involved! Simply go to to register.

Make your mark

- As well as dressing up schools can mark the day with special activities. One school in Kent asked pupils to save their copper coins throughout the summer and then built a wall of pennies in the assembly hall. The wall raised a lot of money for the campaign.
- Get an insight into Service life and invite a member of the Armed Forces or a veteran to come and speak at your school. Some soldiers have brought their kit into schools and asked teachers to try and carry it.
- Have a school bake-off and cake sale in your school and invite parents for coffee and cake.
- Make up your own fantastic fund-raising idea!

Red, White & Blue Day is jointly run by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, RAF Benevolent Fund and Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, working together for every Service family. The money raised is split between the three charities.

For more information, to register, and receive a Welcome Pack, go to:

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On the Road with Reading Force

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Tom signing books 200x150Children’s author, Tom Palmer, blogs about why he is so pleased to be part of the Reading Force Roadshow.

There is no way I could have written my Rugby Academy series of books without the help of the children and teachers at Albrighton Primary School and the RAF Cosford base where many of those children’s parents are based.

My problem was I wanted to write books about children whose mums and dads were in the forces – but I knew nothing about what those children’s lives would be like. There was only one way I was going to be able to find out about their lives. And that was by meeting forces children and their parents.

Albrighton Primary set that up for me. They sat me down in their staff room with some of their RAF parents and – later – their children. I was able to listen to stories and think about things I could never have imagined. I’ll never forget that afternoon. The families I spoke to were honest and passionate about their lives, about the pros and cons of being forces families, the highs and the lows. Their sense of belonging to each other and their sense of duty to the rest of us.

One thing that stuck with me is the difficulties there are communicating with each other when the serving parents were away. Sometimes on the phone. Sometimes on Skype. It is hard to find the right time to talk – and hard to find the right things to talk about.

What do you say when you know your parent or partner might be in harm’s way and that they can’t tell you about it anyway? It is impossible to imagine. And imagining things is something I am supposed to be good at.

At around the same time I was working in Albrighton Primary School I read in a magazine about Reading Force, a charity that encourages forces children and parents to read together. I knew as soon as I read about them that we would work together.

I am very lucky. I have a job that means that I can read with my daughter four or five nights a week. Sitting with her. The other two or three nights I am away visiting schools and libraries. But in hotels, not in harm’s way. I know how lucky I am to see her most days and to be there with her and her mother most nights. We have a very easy relationship because I am there most of the time.   

This spring I will be teaming up with Reading Force to tour our Reading Force Roadshow to ten schools on or next to Army, Navy and RAF bases in the UK. From North Yorkshire to Plymouth. I’ll be joining Jim Sells – literacy guru and former Rifleman – to perform our Football Reading Game, then host a school fete with a literacy theme for forces families, where they will be able to sign up for Reading Force, to get reading tips and receive a free copy of one of my books.

The idea is to help the schools with the work that they already do to find even more ways for the children – and their parents – to enjoy reading for pleasure.

That I can help contribute like this is hugely satisfying for me. I am proud to be working with Reading Force because I admire the work they do very much. And I’ll be proud to be helping the ten schools to enthuse their pupils with their reading.

Tom Palmer is a children’s author. He is published by Barrington Stoke and Puffin Books. As well as working with Reading Force he is the Writer in Residence at the RAF Museums.


Reading Force is free to all Service families, Reservists, Veterans and their friends and family, at home and away.



My daddy’s away but he reads me a story every day…

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SW bannertop 265x485A child being able to hear the voice of their parent who is posted away from home is very precious and helps them feel closer. Storybook Waves makes this happen by recording Royal Navy and Royal Marines parents reading a picture book story for their child.

Then a team of specially trained volunteers adds a soundtrack to make a personalised CD that the child can listen to over and over and whenever they want. Families who have made Storybook Waves CDs joke that they get listened to so much they are the only CDs to get worn out!

At Reading Force we’re big fans of the Storybook Waves CDs and so we’ve partnered up with the brilliant Storybook Waves team. From now on each Naval parent who records a Storybook Waves CD will be offered a free picture book and a Reading Force Little Ones scrapbook at the point of recording. Having a picture book, Storybook Waves CD, and scrapbook can enrich the child’s experience of the story and encourages them to share it with the rest of the family, at home or away.

Many Naval families have told us they found sharing books a great way to stay connected and feel closer. For example, Royal Navy Dad Jim Reed used Reading Force while he was away from home to keep in touch with his two young daughters. He wrote in an e-bluey, “I am missing you all so much but love hearing all your voices when we read together…Send me a video and I look forward to talking and reading with you on Skype soon. Love you my darling girls, from xDaddyx.”

Kristina WhaleI Nursery 265x170To celebrate this partnership author and illustrator of the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks series (a popular choice for Storybook Waves recordings), Kristina Stephenson, told the story of Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and The Pirate’s Curse to the children of Little Whale Nursery, Portsmouth, with puppets, songs, and a giant book to boot!

Storybook Waves is free for all naval personnel who are deployed or away from home for a long time.

Reading Force is free to all Service families, Reservists, Veterans and their friends and family, at home and away.

Kristina WhaleI Nursery2 265x225We know from everything that families tell us that sharing stories helps them stay in touch, and so now, children can listen to their Storybook Waves CD, follow the story with the picture book, and fill in their Reading Force scrapbook.

Parents can record their Storybook Waves CD and receive a Reading Force scrapbook and picture book by contacting their local Chaplaincy or HIVE, or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Storybook Waves is run by the naval charity Aggie Weston’s, and this partnership is also generously supported by funding from the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity.


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