Read up! Kingston

The Boy Who Hit Play

The inaugural book of Read Up! Kingston is 'The Boy Who Hit Play' by Chloe Daykin.

It was by no means easy, but there could only be one winner at the inaugural Read Up! Kingston 'battle of the books'. Congratulations to Chloe Daykin, whose second novel The Boy Who Hit Play will be the first Read Up! Kingston book. The Boy Who Hit Play is a gripping tale of adventure and self-discovery told through the eyes of the unforgettable Elvis Crampton Lucas, soundsmith and YouTuber, which begins under a newspaper on a bench at the zoo. The Selection Panel felt that Elvis' intrepid quest, to find out who he really is, will resonate with students on the brink of their next big adventure: secondary school. This makes it a great read for the summer before the students start.

About the author

An artist, designer, award-winning playwright and teacher, Chloe Daykin lives down a bumpy track by a river in Northumberland with her husband and two boys. Her debut, Fish Boy, won the Northern Writers Award, was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and was published to huge critical acclaim. This is her third novel for middle grade readers."

  • Winner - Northern Writers Award
  • Shortlisted - Branford Boase Award
  • Longlisted - Ukla Book Awards
  • Nominated - Cilip Carnegie Medal


'Funny, life-affirming... Captivating and thought-provoking.'
BookTrust on The Boy Who Hit Play

The Boy Who Hit Play

Local secondary schools to start their own Big Read project

Alison Baverstock presented the idea of Read up! Kingston at a meeting of primary heads of English from schools in Kingston and Richmond at the Twickenham Training Centre, 2 May 2019.

The project proposal was well received. Copies of the previous Big Reads were also much appreciated.

Following the success of Kingston University's Big Read, and Coombe Boys' School's partner initiative, a new reading programme for local schools is being proposed. The scheme will give all new Year 7 students and their teachers the same book to read before the start of term in September 2019.

Like the Big Read, the aim of the Read up! Kingston project is to reduce anxiety about starting a new school, by giving everyone something to talk about. Whatever their role or level, pupils, teachers and parents will have something in common.

How will it work?

Participating secondary schools in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames will gift a copy of the chosen book to every Year 7 pupil and their new teachers. Everyone will be encouraged to read the book during the summer holidays, with staff incorporating it into activities in the first few weeks of the autumn term.

All participating schools will be invited to an event with the author of the chosen book, making this potentially the nation's biggest young people's book club.

How will the book be chosen?

The Big Read book was recently chosen from a shortlist by participating schools. Representatives from each school met for an exciting 'battle of the books' to select the final title.

The chosen book is likely to cover topics such as change and friendship to make it easier for pupils to bring up and discuss these sometimes difficult topics.

How it started

"The big Read project has had a significant impact on the culture of our school and is now totally embedded across our curriculum. It is wonderful to see other schools now recognising the impact that this and similar projects can have on the learning culture of young people." - David Smith, Headteacher, Coombe Boys' School.

In 2015, Julie Morris, Senior Assistant headteacher at Coombe Boys' School, made developing boys' literacy and the transition process from primary to secondary school the chief priorities for the school. The aim was to maintain students' enthusiasm for learning as well as improving their existing reading culture. The school acknowledged that boys' literacy skills were often behind those of girls at the end of KS2 and were a potential barrier to learning at secondary school.

Through membership with Aimhigher London (a network of schools, colleges and universities that support progression) they were put in touch with Kingston University.

A collaboration ensued. A working party was established within the school and university to advise on how to set up shared-reading, how to choose a book and then monitor the impact of the scheme. Staff chose an appropriate book for students joining the school and a copy was given to each new pupil the summer before they joined. Once students started in Year 7, a range of activities in each area of the curriculum was introduced to build upon the reading that they had undertaken.

Reading immersion sessions were introduced across the curriculum. Each morning the boys had to have on top of their desk their three essentials: their planner, their pencil case and the book they were currently reading.

The effect was immediate, and among the positive impacts reported were:

  • A change in culture. With boys having to display their current reading choice, teachers started making it clear what they were reading. This spread out into conversations about reading across the school
  • There was a 350% increase in book borrowing from the school library
  • A significant reduction (down by 60%) in incidents of difficult behaviour which required a second teacher to be called
  • Improved attendance
  • Improved applications
  • A very positive response from parents and carers.

The Coombe scheme was widely noted and more shared-reading within RBK at the point of transition followed. In 2019 Coombe Boys and Coombe Girls shared a common book and there was a second collaboration between Kingston Grammar School, The Kingston Academy and Surbiton High School. All reported similar beneficial effects. Collectively this is now known as ReadUp! Kingston.

Making Kingston known as the 'Reading Borough'

The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has been very keen on supporting literacy in our young people. Through the RBK library and culture department, they have been involved in the KU Big Read since it began, helping to choose the university's book and offering an associated programme of talks in libraries and schools.

RBK would like to support the wider use of shared-reading borough-wide by putting together lists of titles being read across our borough schools and using these as the basis for shared initiatives - for all ages - during the summer holidays, in libraries, leisure centres and within other outreach programmes.

RBK is completely behind this initiative - Kingston University has twice addressed council meetings on the subject of shared reading. All council members and the wider administration are being encouraged not only to read more themselves, but also to read to their children!

Be part of a growing research programme

Since we began The Kingston University Big Read, and as we have developed our activities and involvements across other universities and local schools, we have been monitoring progress and reporting outcomes. This has built into a considerable body of work. Now widely quoted and referenced within both the academic study of shared-reading and its wider popular understanding.

By deciding to take part in shared-reading within RBK you would also be opening up the opportunity to be part of this growing body of work; involving your school in a widely-respected and academically-sound initiative that has a growing profile.

Get in touch

If you have any queries about Read up! Kingston or would like more information, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.

Who to contact, if you would like to: