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Monstrous books for World Book Day

It’s World Book Day this week and the team at Teach Your Monster to Read have put together a list of monster-related books. Here’s a few of our favourites. Please send in your recommendations as we’d love to hear what other monsters our fans like to read about.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

This is a wonderful, classic tale of the underdog (or should I say under-mouse?). It is written by Julia Donaldson, the UK’s Children’s Laureate. The story follows the adventures of a mouse, who journeys through the deep, dark wood and meets a number of hungry woodland creatures along the way.

The rhyming narrative keeps a great pace and it contains lots of lovely repetition which means it’s quick to learn off by heart. It is humorous, fun to read and the illustrations really bring the story to life.

There’s also few scary bits to keep children excited. It’s a personal favourite in my house.

Not Now, Bernard by David McKee

A few parents I know have called this “The most depressing children’s book ever written”. It certainly is a sad tale and poor old Bernard does get rather a raw deal but it’s also fun, short and the colourful illustrations draw both children and adults into the story. There is a very clear life lesson in this book: don’t ignore your children or they’ll turn into monsters.

I imagine children love shouting out the key phrase: “Not Now, Bernard!”

Not Now, Bernard is a stage play, showing at the Unicorn Theatre, London this spring.

Monster Things to Make and Do

I had to include this book as I’ve had so much fun make monsters out of it. There are 18 different monster activities, including a wobbly monster, a monster mask and a bookmark. It’s fun and colourful and all the activities are really easy to make with your child. It’s a great inspirational resource for a monster loving child on rainy day.

The Lonely Beast by Chris Judge

“Have you heard of the Beasts? No, not many people have. That’s because they are very rare.”

This is a story about a beast’s journey to find some other beasts just like him. He travels across the world, walking and searching for some friends. He ends up in a city and becomes a media celebrity – possibly the loneliest place of all.

The story is well told, the illustrations are captivating, and it has a happy ending.

There’s an additional Lonely Beast ABC app if your children love the character and want to see more.

Morris the Mankiest Monster by Giles Andreae and Sarah McIntyre

Could this be the most disgusting children’s book ever written? If not, we think it’s the most disgusting monster book ever written!

I cannot imagine any child who doesn’t delight in the revolting not loving this book. It’s silly, animated and above all fun. Sarah McIntyre’s illustrations are fantastically detailed and the story will capture your child’s imaginations and yours too – up there with Fungus the Bogeyman for gross!

“Morris the mankiest monster

Lives in a house made of dung

It only smells stinky enough when it’s damp

So he keeps the walls wet with his tongue”

If you like Morris then there’s some wonderful monster-related worksheets to download on Sarah’s blog.

Please add your favourite monster books here. There’s so many and I know we’ve forgotten the classics. Have fun on World Book Day!

Teach Your Monster to Read at BETT.

Last week, the team at Teach Your Monster to Read attended our first trade show! We were exhibiting at BETT: the biggest Educational Technology event in Europe.

Our stand was was on the Edtech Pavillion: an interesting space full of new start-up companies, hoping to find new customers within education and compete with the larger organisations filling the main hall at BETT.

The show was very busy from day one!

Our main aim was to introduce our phonics game Teach Your Monster to Read to Primary Teachers, Headteachers, ICT Co-ordinators, Educational Consultants and Journalists.

Our other objective at BETT was to gather feedback from teachers about the game, helping us to improve the user experience and make the website more teacher-friendly. We met some fantastic teachers who’ve helped us a great deal – thank you Janie, Susan, Lee, Annette, Dawn, Alison, Sarah and Nas!

The BETT Show itself is a huge event, with companies showing the best in educational technology and publishing. It’s fascinating to see what’s out there.

A few companies particularly caught my eye:

Little Bridge – a wonderful and detailed world created to teach the English, includes apps, online games and engaging characters.

Classroom of the 80s – essentially a chance to play some retro 80s arcade games (inspired!) but also include teaching packages for students to learn programming using the BBC’s BASIC software.

Raspberry Pi were there, demonstrating all you can do with a low-cost, tiny computer – think robots!

Dynamo Maths looked interesting and an effective maths resource – particularly geared towards learners with dyscalculia and learning difficulties with maths.

On a personal note, i saw my first 3D printer in action. Here it is making a tiny Taj Mahal.

I also heard Sir Ranulph Fiennes speak about his incredible adventures across the globe. Awe-inspiring and he is also funny too!

Lastly I attended the final keynote debate, addressed by ‘learning adventurer’, Tim Rylands, Tomorrow’s World’s, Maggie Philbin and Facebook Policy Director, Simon Milner who gave us their thoughts on the future of education.

“Technology should not replace the teacher, but it could replace the classroom” said Tim Rylands – it’s an interesting one to think about.

Come and talk to the monsters at BETT!

The Teach Your Monster to Read team will be attending the BETT Show in London this month (22nd – 25th January) and we’re really excited!

The BETT Show is the number one show for educational technology and learning in the UK and many big names in the business will be attending. This years’ speakers include Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Lord David Puttnam and Richard Gerver.

Attending the show is a fantastic way to find out what is new and what technology really inspires teachers in the classroom.

We’re really excited to be going to BETT as it’s a chance for the team to meet teachers and educators face-to-face.

This year we’d like to talk to teachers about some improvements we’re thinking of making. If you have 30 minutes free at the show then we’d love to meet you.

We’re specifically looking for primary teachers who are involved in any way with reading. You don’t need to have used Teach Your Monster to Read before, we’re keen to hear from teachers who are completely new to the game and those who are frequent players, so do pass this on to friends and colleagues who are attending the show but haven’t played the game.

As a thank you for your time we’d like to offer those who meet us £50 worth of Usborne books.

Teach Your Monster to Read will be on the Edmix Pavillion (Hall/Stand B228) and we’re taking appointments on Wednesday 22nd January, Thursday 23rd January and Friday 24th January.

Please sign up to this Doodle calendar with the time you would like to attend. and email [email protected] to confirm your contact details. Thanks!

Also on the stand…

We’ll be giving some free foldable monsters and badges and they’ll be a monster photo competition each day of BETT to win £150 worth of Usborne books and a Teach Your Monster to Read kids T-shirt!

More details to follow.

2014 BETT Finalists: Free digital content

The 2014 BETT Awards winners will be announced next month so we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the free teaching resources, tools and apps that have been nominated in the Free Digital Content / Open Education Resources category.

Cambridge University Press, OCR and Raspberry Pi – Cambridge GCSE Computing

This is a massive open online course (MOOC) created by the Cambridge-based partnership of exam board OCR, Cambridge University Press (CUP) and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The course is based on OCR’s GCSE Computing curriculum and teaches students to understand how computers work, how they are used, and to develop computer programming and problem-solving skills. The course is open to everyone without any start or finish date and can be used as a computer science teaching resource.

If you haven’t heard of Raspberry Pi before then take a look at their site. Raspberry Pi is an affordable, credit-card-sized computer developed to teach and promote computer science in schools. It can be plugged into a TV and keyboard and it’s aim it to make computer programming accessible to children.

It’s really worth checking out if you have children interested in programming.

Edmodo, Inc

Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents. Teachers and students can assign and submit coursework, discuss class assignments, collaborate in groups, talk to teachers and share ideas and resources. It’s basically a Facebook for schools and would almost certainly make communicating with students (and teachers) easier and more efficient.

Microsoft – Kodu

This free tool is for designing and creating online games. It enables students to make computer games using visual programming tools, without needing to understand code. Students can create different worlds and characters and learn about narrative, story-telling, problem solving. It can be used on a PC and Xbox.

Royal Society of Chemistry – Learn Chemistry

Learn Chemistry is a rich online resource for teachers and students of chemistry. It’s a valuable free resource for all ages – from Primary to HE. It includes a searchable database of worksheets, handouts, chemistry demonstrations and interactive assessments. It has a collaborative Wiki page, forum and CPD pages to help connect, share and expand your chemistry knowledge. This is THE place to go for anyone learning or teaching chemistry. Inspiring stuff!

Makewaves – Makewaves App

Makewaves is the social learning environment that provides social media for education. It enables schools to create and safely share videos, podcasts and blogs.

The Makewaves app launched last year and it provides a way for students to create stories, videos and blog posts on the go within the safe and accessible Makewaves environment. Teacher’s can also add additional tools to the app so they can approve work and mark students while outside the classroom.

TTS Group – Bee-Bot App

Bee-Bot app

CTCV Ltd –

True Tube is an invaluable free resource for RE, PSHE and Citizenship at Key Stages 3 and 4. It offers access to videos, assembly scripts and lesson plans for these subjects.

As one teacher has said “TrueTube… presents a reliable replacement for some resources that paint an out of date picture of society today.” Andrea Keightley

It’s a well designed website with access to the key topics and themes within this subject area. TrueTube was the well deserved winner of the 2013 BETT Award.

It’s going to be a tough call for the judges this year as there’s a number of excellent free tools out there! My bets are on Cambridge University Press, OCR and Raspberry Pi for Cambridge GCSE Computing but lets see for ourselves in January!

Good luck to all the finalists!

Meet the Community Manager, Dannie Price

Last week Usborne Publishing published a blog post about my role at Teach Your Monster to Read. I thought i’d share the post with our fans too.

Teach Your Monster to Read has been created by a small, expert and dedicated team. My role within the team is Community Manager.

As Community Manager I talk to the parents and teachers of our young players and keep up to date with our audience. I help them with their queries and feedback and gain insight into how we can improve the game and the user experience for everyone.

Above: Me at my desk!

I run fun competitions, such as the latest ‘Dress Your Teacher or Parent as a Monster’ – where we’ve had some fantastic (but scary) entries sent in.

Above: Crawfordsburn Primary School dress up their teachers for Halloween.

I search, read and share relevant articles and news stories that our audience may find interesting. These articles could be about teaching, education, parenting, gaming or even just some monster facts (we love monsters at Teach Your Monster to Read)!

I also curate our Monster Pinterest page which features many monster related games and activities for children.

As Teach Your Monster to Read is a web based game, a lot of my work is done online, through blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, online forums, email and the Teach Your Monster to Read website. However, I also go out and about to educational conferences and Teachmeets throughout the year.

When the games go out to schools for testing, I also get meet our young players in person and hear their thoughts about the game, I even get to see some of their monster impressions!

Above: Our players and their monsters at Royden Primary School.

Above: Binyaameen at Snowsfields Primary School, testing the game.

The audience for the game is truly international – we have players in countries such as Spain, Hawaii, New Zealand and China. We learn a lot about the game from our players and I’m proud to say that the feedback we receive is very positive.

Our players LOVE the game!

Above: Arabella and Naeem enjoying Teach Your Monster to Read.

Above: Two of our US fans designing their monsters.

On a last note, I’m delighted to say that Teach Your Monster to Read has been nominated for a Children’s BAFTA. Fingers crossed for the announcement on 24th November. What a great honour for the team!’

For more information about Teach Your Monster to Read, you can contact me here [email protected] or find us online.

Winning monster costumes!

We had some fantastic entries to our Dress Your Teacher or Parent as a Monster competition last month – including headless heads, creepy zombies, monster mummies and devillish dads!

Thank you all for entering the competition.

Our judges, Ceri Williams and his student, Jack came to a nail-biting decision last week.

They decided to award the winning prize to Bryan Clark and his 3 sons for their amazing recreation of H.P Lovecraft’s monster Cthulhu.

Congratulations Bryan and the boys! You will receive £150 worth of Usborne books of your choice.

Here’s what Ceri said about the competition:

“We thought all the entries were absolutely fantastic and lots of hard work went into the costumes but in a photo-finish, Jack thought the fabulous Alien just about edged it.”


Our runners-up have been decided too and £75 worth of Usborne books will each go to Lisa Waugh for her terrifying Zombie and to ‘monster mummy” Emily Morris.

Congratulations Lisa and Emily!

Thanks to everybody who entered the competition. We had a brilliant time looking at all the marvellous costumes. To look at all of the monster entries, go to our Facebook gallery.

They’ll be another competition early next year so watch this space!

BAFTA Nomination… WOW!

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced the nominations for the 2013 British Academy Children’s Awards last month and we’re delighted to say that Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps has been nominated in the Children’s Interactive category. What a great honour and reward for the game!

Teach Your Monster to Read was launched by the Usborne Foundation, a charitable fund set up by Peter Usborne and his children, Nicola and Martin, to support initiatives to develop early literacy.

The Children’s BAFTA ceremony will be held on Sunday 24 November 2013 at the London Hilton in Park Lane. The ceremony will be presented by Jake Humphrey.

Teach Your Monster to Read may win the BAFTA (that would be a lovely bonus!) but at the end of the day the team is really proud that Teach Your Monster to Read has proved successful, is really helping children learn to read and that they LOVE playing it.

Here’s the list of all the Children’s BAFTA nominations.

Dress Your Teacher or Parent as a Monster!

We’re launching an exciting new competition for the best, most monstrous costumes – just in time for Halloween!

We would love to see some terrible teachers, repulsive parents, terrifying TAs and horrible Headteachers dressed up in all manner of scales, teeth, warts and claws!

We’re obviously hoping that our wonderful teachers and parent fans will involve the children in the design of their monster costume too (eek – this sounds scary!).

Send in photos to [email protected] or enter via Facebook using this link.

The winner will receive a £150 bundle of Usborne books for their school or home and two runners up will each receive a £75 bundle of Usborne books.

How to enter.

1. Take a picture of you wearing your monster outfit

2. Send in a photograph with your name and school to the following address [email protected] or enter via our Facebook page.

4 Closing date 7th November 2013

Entries will be judged by Ceri Williams. Ceri Williams is a specific learning difficulties tutor for Torfaen LEA and Jazz musician. Thanks Ceri!

Terms and Conditions for the competition can be found here: Competition Terms and Conditions

Good Luck! We cannot wait to see those monster costumes!

Competition Winners – Catch Up!

Long before the summer days kicked in (the best summer the UK has had in years it must be said!), we ran a competition to design a monster for the new game ‘Fun With Words’.

We received a whopping 500 monster entries to the competition, and after some hard deliberation by our judges, it was decided that the monster ‘Garbage’ drawn by Tanzina (age 10) would be featured in the new game.

Here’s Tanzina’s drawing next to the finished ‘Garbage’, illustrated by the fantastic Rich Wake. Wow! This monster can now be made by adding all these various body parts together at the beginning of the game.

Here’s a short time-lapse video of Rich bringing the monster to life. It’s fun to see the monster take shape!

Runner-up news!

Our competition runner-up Devlon has also been busy. Devlon created the brilliant monster Ogo (one of my personal favourites).

Here’s what Devlon said about the competition:

“I am really proud to be a runner up. My friend helped me to choose the books and Mrs Stephens (The Head Teacher) was really pleased as we need books for our new library. I can’t wait to play the new game!”

Here’s Devlon with Ogo and with his friend Angus – reading their winning books! Hooray!

To view all our amazing competition monsters then take a look at ‘The Monster Gallery” on Flickr.

We’ll be launching a new competition next week – just in time for Halloween. Watch this space!

Help improve Teach Your Monster to Read.

The monsters have an exciting opportunity to announce!

We’re looking for teachers who can give up an hour of their time to talk about the game. We’d like to ask you what you like, what you don’t like and to show you a few new ideas for features.

We’re looking for some participants who can come to visit us (at the famous Usborne Publishing offices in London) and some from elsewhere in the world that can talk to us via Skype.

In return we can offer £150 of free Usborne books, a credit on the website, and we’ll cover your expenses if you’re travelling in to meet us in person.

So, if you’ve used the game, know it relatively well and would be interested in helping out, please get in touch with us at [email protected] and we’ll let you know more.

The monsters are really looking forward to meeting you!

I was stunned to see how much they enjoyed this. It blew me away.

Matt Lovegrove, Cippenham Primary School

Why Play?

  • Covers letters and sounds to reading full sentences.
  • Designed in collaboration with leading academics.
  • Computer version is 100% free.


Why is the computer version free?

The game has been funded by the Usborne Foundation, a charity set up to support initiatives to develop early literacy.

Our mission is to help as many children learn to read as possible. The computer version is 100% free and we put profits from the app back into the Usborne Foundation, to continue to create new and exciting ways for children to learn.

The charity was founded by Peter Usborne MBE and his children, Nicola and Martin, one of the world’s leading children’s book publishing companies and Children’s Publisher of the Year 2012. He was previously one of the founders of the magazine Private Eye.

What age is it for?

The game is for children in the first stages of learning to read, or for older children who need a bit more practice. Read more details about the three games.

How do children learn from the game?

The game takes children on a magical journey, meeting colourful characters along the way and collecting fantastic rewards. When children are engaged, they’re motivated to learn.

As they progress, they rehearse a range of essential reading skills; matching letters to sounds, blending, segmenting, tricky words and reading full sentences.

Find out exactly what the game covers.

Will it work on my device?

The game runs on any normal laptop or desktop computer (including Apple Macs) and the app works on iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle tablets.

Who are The Usborne Foundation?

Peter Usborne is the founder and Managing Director of Usborne Publishing, one of the world’s leading children’s book publishing companies and Children’s Publisher of the Year 2012. He was previously one of the founders of the magazine Private Eye, and was recently awarded an MBE for services to publishing.


"I was stunned to see how much they enjoyed this. It blew me away."

Matt Lovegrove,
Cippenham Primary School

"The kids absolutely love this game - and they're learning!"

John Hole,
Wray Common Primary School

"This is a fun and engaging way to help your child learn to read. My son warmed to the game quickly and didn't want to stop playing it!"

Sarah Fox,
mum to Leon aged 5

This is a fun and engaging way to help your child learn to read. My son warmed to the game quickly and didn't want to stop playing it!

Sarah Fox, mum to Leon aged 5

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