Top tips for running your shadowing group

So you’ve got the shortlisted titles and you’ve got students signed up to your shadowing group…now what?

The Medals and Peters each have over 80 years’ experience in children’s literature and reading. Let us give you a helping hand with some top tips for your shadowing sessions, covering structure, activities and reviewing.  Happy reading!

Structuring your shadowing sessions

Every Shadowing group is different, but if you’re looking for a jumping off point to start your shadowing, you can use the following structure as a template. The most important thing is making sure your readers are engaged in and excited by the books, so don’t feel constrained to follow the rules - stick to what the children enjoy to help them foster a lifelong love of reading!

  1. Welcome

    A five minute intro explaining which books you’ll be reading and what sort of activities can be expected.

  2. Read aloud

    For the Greenaway list you can read through a whole picture book, but for the Carnegie list focus on important passages to read aloud and inspire group discussion. You can select passages or you can ask the group to read something they found particularly interesting or resonant.

  3. Activity

    Try one of the activities suggested on this page or in the Reading Resources  - or make up your own! Try to keep it related to the book you’re currently reading. This is an ideal way to bring in cross-curricular themes and use multi-media for variety! See the Activities tips below

  4. Review

    Depending on the length of the book and the time you have allotted to shadowing, you may not review books every session, but try to encourage the group to reflect on what they are reading and how the books compare within the shortlists. See the Reviewing tips below

  5. Finish

    Work with the group to plan the next shadowing meeting, decide on what to read next and what activities to try.

Reviewing tips

Once you’ve finished a shortlisted book, it’s time to reflect and review to see how your group feels about the titles. Use the handy tips below to get started.

1. Start simple – describe the book in 3 words!

2. Create a big chart featuring all of the shortlisted books so each member of the Shadowing group can rate the titles and decide their favourites.

3. Write a blog. All groups have the facility to write and update their own blog via your shadowing homepage. This is a great way to track activity. One group member can be in charge or readers can take turns each week.

4. Design your own polls. Everyone loves to vote! Your group can design their own polls to find out what group members are thinking and refresh content at any time. You can share your polls with other groups. Groups have made polls about everything from deciding what biscuits to choose for their next meeting, to working out which genre is the most popular amongst their readers.

5. How does this book compare to the other shortlisted titles? As you make your way through the shortlists, can you start to see any overarching themes or styles?

6. Especially good for the Greenaway list, why not try using Olympics style numbers to choose a mark out of 10 for each title? Ask the group members to explain their scores.

7. Ask the children whether they would recommend the book to a friend and why.

8. Use the ‘Star Review’ feature to highlight one review each week

9. At the end of the Shadowing, pick your own winners and hold your own awards ceremony!


Try some of these ideas and activities with your group to see what works best for them. Let us know your favourite activities, and which ones get your students excited about reading

See also Ideas