As a school, Aspire Academy has always been passionate about books and fully committed to improving the reading of all of our students while they are with us. We arrange our timetable so that all students in year 7-10 are given the opportunity to read for at least 20 minutes per day, which is the recommended amount to improve reading.

During this time the literary canon class teacher will read aloud to the class while the students follow the text. They will then be given the opportunity to explore the big ideas in the text and learn more about what it can teach us about the world.

Year 7 - The first children's book from Times journalist, two-time Olympian and best-selling mindset author Matthew Syed, it uses examples of successful people from Mozart to Serena Williams to demonstrate that success really is earned rather than given, and that talent can be acquired. With hard work and determination, practice and self-belief, and, most importantly, a Growth Mindset, there's no reason why anyone can't achieve anything. 

Year 7 - First published in 1954, this novel is now regarded as a classic; a compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a desert island. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun, but this is short lived as the island turns into a nightmarish and primitive world of panic and death.

Year 7 - This story about a girl who is obsessed with books, will take students on a journey into Nazi Germany in 1939. Liesel’s family have been taken away to a concentration camp and she is living with a foster family. This is the story about the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall, told from the perspective of a very unusual narrator…..

Year 8 - Anne Frank wrote her diary until her family were betrayed and caught by the Nazis in occupied Holland in 1942. Just 13 years old at the time, Anne invites us to  share her lengthy isolation and gives us an insight into her personality and spirited view of life!

Year 8 - This novel is a murder mystery story like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christoper is fifteen and has Asperger’s, a form of autism. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour's dog murdered he sets off on a terrifying journey that will turn his whole world upside down.

Year 8 - Told in the form of a diary, Sue Townsend’s young adult novel The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (1982) details the existence and struggles of the titular British boy who, fancying himself an intellectual, often misunderstands the events surrounding him.

Year 9 - The best selling memoir of youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Taliban on the way to school. This autobiography will inspire and inform in equal measure, as students learn about life in a very different world. 

Year 9 - In one of the most acclaimed and strange novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, as an adult, this story is an account of her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends.

Year 9 - Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age. His parties are legendary, his reputation mixed. This novel explores the idea of the American Dream and poses some complex questions about love, social class and morality.

Year 10 - Where the Crawdads Sing is part bildungsroman and part crime drama, centred around Kya, a wild and unkempt girl. The book follows the ups and downs of her life. She lives a lonely life, but her story is a hopeful one as well. With a little help, she's able to survive and even learn to read.

Year 10 - Bill Bryson recently took the decision to move back to the States but before leaving his much loved home in North Yorkshire he took one last trip around Britain. This travelogue aims to take stock of the nation’s public face and private parts, and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about the UK.

Year 10 - This is a collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters. From Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to the president of America to the first recorded use of the expression “OMG” in a letter to Winston Churchill. From Leonardo da Vinci’s job application letter to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hilter….this collection explores some key historical moments while capturing the essence of humanity.


Our English curriculum continues to promote reading with a dedicated canon. These texts have been selected to provide an engaging and broad range of books which students access within lessons. Students are encouraged to use reading strategies, such as activating prior knowledge, prediction and questioning to improve students’ comprehension. 


  Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Year 7 Gothic inspired 
•    ‘The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories’ Paperback – by Michael Cox
•    ‘The Ghost of Thomas Kempe’ by Penelope Lively
•    ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein’ plays.
•    Brothers Grimm Fairytales
•    ‘The Woman in Black’
•    ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo
•    ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ Michelle Magorian
•    ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’  John Boyne
•    ‘Billy’s Blitz’ Barbara Mitchell-Hill

Real life encounters 
•    ‘Boy’ & ‘Going Solo’ Roald Dahl
•    ‘Wonder’ R J Palacio (inspired by real life encounter)

Year 8 American Literature 
•    ‘Of Mice & Men’ John Steinbeck
•    ‘ The Outsiders’ SE Hinton
•    ‘Harry Potter….’JK Rowling
•    ‘Northern Lights’ Phillip Pullman
•    ‘The Hobbit’ JRR Tolkien
•    ‘Spooks’ Apprentice’ Joseph Delaney

Detective Fiction
•    ‘The Tale of the Speckled band’ etc Sherlock Holmes
•    ‘The Clockwork Sparrow’ Katherine Woodfine
•    ‘The Ruby in the Smoke’ Phillip Pullman

Year 9 Historical /Cultural 
•    Joan Lingard- ‘Across the Barricades’
•    Joan Lingard- ‘The Twelfth of July’
•    ‘Abomination’ R. Swindells
Seminal World Literature 
•    ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’ Mildred D Taylor
Dystopian Fiction
•    ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Ray Bradbury
•    ‘Noughts & Crosses’ Malorie Blackman
•    ‘The Hunger Games’ Suzanne Collins