For the past four years, students in years 7 – 10 have participated in DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read), once a week during afternoon registration. Usually, students read their own free choice book quietly for 20 minutes. In order to encourage students to challenge themselves, we are introducing one ‘shared’ text each per year group per half-term that we believe is culturally relevant and appropriately engaging.

Students will partially read an extract from the text with their Form Tutor during DEAR time, then bring the extract home to continue reading to the end. This will be their only homework for the holiday period. However, we know that many students will want to do more, and as such, we have designed a range of ‘stretch and challenge’ tasks which students can complete alongside their holiday reading. All stretch projects completed will be rewarded.

Finally, students who may wish to read the rest of the book can purchase copies of the whole text on Amazon or at bookstores. Some of the texts have been adapted for film and are available on either Amazon Prime or Netflix. We very much hope that you will encourage and support children with this reading. Further information about the texts and the activities is available on the school website.

DEAR Texts

YearAutumn One
Lion: A Long Way Home – Saroo Brierley

Lion is the heartbreaking and inspiring original true story of the lost little boy who found his way home twenty-five years later and is now a major film starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.

As a five year old in India, Saroo boarded a train and became lost.. Twenty-five years later, he crossed the world to find his way back home.

Five year old Saroo Brierley lived in a poor village in India, in a one room hut with his mother and three siblings until the day he boarded a train and got lost. For twenty-five years.

This is the story of what happened to Saroo in those twenty-five years. How he ended up on the streets of Calcutta. And survived. How he ended up in Tasmania, living the life of a middle class aussie. And how, at thirty years old, with dogged determination, a lot of luck and the power of google earth, he found his way back home.

Lion is a triumphant story of survival against all odds and a shining example of the extraordinary feats we can achieve when hope endures.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain – John Boyne

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.

Quickly, Pierrot become Pieter and is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.

Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cunxin

Li Cunxin was born in 1961, in the New Village, Li Commune, near the city of Qingdao on the coast of north-east China. The sixth of seven sons in a poor rural family, Li’s peasant life in Chairman Mao’s communist China changed dramatically when at the age of eleven, he was chosen by Madame Mao’s cultural advisers to become a student at the Beijing Dance Academy. He had never had any experience of ballet dancing but desperately wanted to do well so he could escape the poverty he was in.  After a summer school in America, for which he was one of only two students chosen, he defected to the West and became a principal dancer.

Li went on to become one of the best male dancers in the world.

Rabbit Proof Fence – Doris Pilkington

Following an Australian Government order in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit Proof Fence, award winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captivating story of her mother, Molly, one of three young girls uprooted from her community in Southwestern  Australia and taken to the Moore river settlement, Molly and her relatives Gracie and Daisy were forbidden to speak their native language, forced to abandon their aboriginal heritage, and taught to be culturally white. After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls – scared and homesick – planned and executed a daring escape from the grim camp, with its harsh life of padlocks, barred windows, and hard cold beds.

The girls headed for the nearby rabbit-proof fence that stretched over 1000 miles through the desert toward their home. The journey lasted over a month, and they survived on everything from emus to feral cats, while narrowly avoiding the police, professional trackers, and hostile white settlers. Their story is a truly moving tale of defiance and resilience.