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New book helps children learn about Cambridge while helping them to read

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Published in July by Cambridge Children’s Books, Cambridge Punting is a beautifully illustrated picture book about punting, and its history in Cambridge.

Pip Barber with publisher Greg Holder. Picture: Keith Heppell
Pip Barber with publisher Greg Holder. Picture: Keith Heppell

The book, written by primary school teacher Pip Barber, is specially designed to encourage children to read with phonics. Focusing on phase four phonics, this children's book should have your children reading in no time.

Pip is experienced in - and excited about - teaching phonics and early reading. She has taught in infant and primary schools for several years and loves living in Cambridgeshire. The book - the first that Pip has had published - is full of colourful and imaginative illustrations, by London-based illustrator Charlie Spurrier, of iconic buildings that children will be able to recognise.

Pip explains: "Phonics is a way that children learn to speak, where they match the sound to a letter - or a group of letters - and it's often the way of teaching reading that children are familiar with from school. So I thought it would be nice to write a book where they can apply what they've learnt about phonics in school but in a book about Cambridge.

"So really it's for children who live in Cambridge, or near Cambridge - or who are visiting Cambridge - to see their local area and be able to have a book that's simple enough for them to read themselves."

Pip continues: "It's been a couple of years that I've been in touch with the publisher - Greg from Cambridge Children's Books - and the illustrator, Charlie Spurrier, has done a fantastic job on the illustrations. So we've really taken the time to make sure that it's a really beautiful book, with lots of details and illustrations to look at."

Children's author Pip Barber. Picture: Greg Hodder
Children's author Pip Barber. Picture: Greg Hodder

On the reaction the book has received so far, Pip says it's been "lovely", noting: "We've had some really positive responses from people who have bought the book after our Kickstarter project, and people have said their children have really enjoyed seeing familiar places... and even people who've bought the book who live further away have said that children have enjoyed reading it themselves."

Pip notes that Cambridge Punting does not have main characters and that it is actually more of a non-fiction book than fiction. It is also set to be the first in a short series of reading books all about Cambridge.

"This one is about punting," she says, "and then within the book as well there's some of the University of Cambridge colleges and bridges named, so children can also learn about the names of places that they've seen.

"Then the next book, that's already in the illustration phase, is about King's College specifically, and then the third book is about the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge. The idea is to bring out three books - the Botanic Gardens one will be phase three phonics and the King's College one will be phase five phonics.

"So there will be three books, all about Cambridge, but they all get progressively challenging as you go through the series."

Pip Barber with publisher Greg Holder. Picture: Keith Heppell
Pip Barber with publisher Greg Holder. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge Punting costs £5.99 and is available in the following shops in Cambridge: King's College Visitor Centre, Cambridge Gift Shop and Jacks on Trinity Street. Copies can also be purchased online at cambridgechildrensbooks.com/product-page/cambridge-punting.

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