Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

A World Full of Dickens Stories by Angela McAllister

Like Shakespeare, the language of Charles Dickens is an enormous part of our lexicon and everyday life. A familiarity with his stories is a key part of a well-rounded general knowledge about British literature, history and culture.  Dickens’ links to the Industrial Revolution and Victorian Britain also make him an important part of the Key Stage Two and Three curriculum.  His passion for speaking out about social issues brings this period of history to life through tales of wealth and class divide, homes, schools, workhouses and ambitions for the future.  

A World Full of Dickens Stories is an accessible abridged version of eight of Charles Dickens’ classic tales. Starting with the quintessential story, Oliver Twist, readers soon find themselves immersed in the world of hardships, pickpockets and hiding in the shadows. Each story begins with a clear introduction to the main characters and the vocabulary choices allow children to make sense of the complex stories.   Many of the words from the Year 5/6 statutory word list can be found within the stories, giving excellent examples of how to use these words in context. The characters are well-developed, painting a picture of life and struggles for people at the time.  It is wonderful to see well-known lines included such as “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” from A Tale of Two Cities. The intriguing illustrations by Jannicke Hansen are suited to the hardships of the time period and highlight the most important elements of the plot.

This book would make an excellent addition to any classroom or home library and a valuable resource to support Upper Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three English and History lessons. It makes the lengthy original stories more manageable for younger readers and allows children to be exposed to a greater range of stories in a shorter period of time. Seeing the breadth of Dickens’ writing is so helpful for making comparisons and understanding his contribution to literature as a whole.

A World Full of Dickens Stories includes:

– Oliver Twist

– The Old Curiosity Shop

– David Copperfield

– Great Expectations

– A Tale of Two Cities

– Nicholas Nickleby

– Hard Times

– A biography of Charles Dickens

– Timeline

– Glossary

Thank you to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for this fantastic book.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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