Monday, October 13, 2008

Reading list for GEP English

I thought I would share a little about what is being taught in GEP English, for those who might be interested.

The GEP kids have no English textbook, instead they have one assigned fiction book a year, which they study (ala literature style). For p5 this year, it's Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Last year for p4, it was EB White's Charlotte's Web. At the beginning of the school year, the kids are also given a recommended reading list. Out of the list of over 100 titles, they can pick any two on which to do their Extended Reading Project (ERP). As part of the ERP, the student has prepare a visual presentation with writeups which could include a summary of the book, reflections and his/her personal opinions.

For p5, the theme was mystery, so the kids were given a list of mystery titles and a list of general fiction titles - they had to pick a book from each list. This was Lesley-Anne's ERP for the mystery title, she chose the Sherlock Holmes' mystery A Study in Scarlet. There are "clues" written behind each window writeups and under the Private Property flap is a writeup on the "solution" to the novel.

For many parents of GEP kids, the word "ERP" doesn't conjure up images of diminishing cash card value in cars but something scarier. When I hear "ERP", I envision frantic late nights pasting printouts, cutting and gluing pieces of coloured paper, and scouring the internet for appropriate images.

It's not the school or the programme's fault. They actually very considerately give the kids 12 weeks' notice and even help them plan their schedule to ensure the ERP is delivered in a timely manner. Do the children appreciate this? Noooooo. They will nonchalantly tell themselves they have plenty of time, until 1 week before the project is due, then panic and inform their mothers, who will completely freak out, run out to Popular to buy coloured boards and papers, and spend the rest of the week commandeering the project because of its tortoise-speed progress (while berating their kids the whole time).

Ok, that was me. Not that I actually did the project for Lesley-Anne, but she wouldn't have been able to finish it without her dutiful parents' help. And I know it's not just me. A GEP mother told me a week before the ERP was due, she realised to her horror that her son had not even read the book he was doing the project on. Some other kid with less protective parents might find himself in this situation - submitting three design-challenged sheets of A4 paper that was potentially his project (this is a true account, don't laugh).

Anyway, apart from the 2 books they have to do the ERP on, the kids are encouraged to read as many books as possible from the book list, to improve their command of the language. I thought some parents might be interested to know what books are on the list, thus this post. This is the list for p5 GEP this year. Many of the titles were my childhood favourites. As mentioned, there's a mystery list and a general fiction list. Any item that has only an author's name means the student can read any story by that author.

  • Arthur Conan Doyle (must-read)
  • Agatha Christie
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Ellery Queen
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Ellis Peters
  • Ed McBain
  • Laurie E King (the Mary Russell series only)
  • Anna Katherine Greene The Leavenworth Case
  • Wilkie Collins The Woman in White; The Moonstone
  • John Bellairs The Mummy, The Will and The Crypt; The Curse of the Blue Figurine
  • Carol Farley The Case of the Vanishing Villain; Mystery of the Melted Diamonds
  • Jean Craighead George Who Really Killed Cock Robin? An Ecological Mystery
  • Patricia Reilly Have You See Hyacinth Macaw?
  • David Kherdian The Turquoise Toad Mystery; Funny Bananas
  • Robert Newman The Case of the Somerville Secret; Case of Baker Street Irregulars
  • Ellen Raskin The Westing Game; Figgs & Phantoms; The Tattooed Potato
  • Mordecai Richler Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang
  • Seymour Simon Einstein Anderson - Science Sleuth
  • Donald J Sobol Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective (I was surprised to see this - Encyclopedia Brown is hardly the same level of writing as Edgar Allan Poe. But I think they just want the kids to understand how the mystery genre is written)
  • Eve Titus Basil and the Pygmy Cats
General Fiction
  • Philip Pullman The Amber Spyglass; The Subtle Knife; Northern Lights or The Golden Compass; I Was a Rat; Clockwork; The Firemaker's Daughter; Count Karlstein
  • Kevin Crossey Arther - The Seeing Stone; Arthur - At the Crossing Place
  • David Almond Kit's Wilderness; Secret Heart; Skellig; Heaven Eyes
  • Elizabeth George Spears The Witch of Blackbird Pond; The Sign of the Beaver; Calico Captive; The Bronze Bow
  • Eloise McGraw The Moorchild
  • Linda Sue Park A Single Shard
  • Elizabeth Coatsworth The Cat Who Went to Heaven
  • John Marsden Winter
  • Geraldine McCaughrean The Kite Rider
  • Louis Sachar Holes
  • Bill Richardson After Hamelin
  • Terry Pratchett The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
  • Peter Dickenson The Ropemaker
  • Karen Hess Out of the Dust
  • Terry Trueman Stuck in Neutral
  • Carol Genner Yolanda's Genius
  • Elizabeth Goudge A Little White Horse
  • EL Konigsburg From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler; Father's Arcane Daughter
  • Madeleine L'Engle A Circle of Quiet; The Summer of the Great-Grandmother; Two-Part Invention
  • Bruce Corville Into the Land of the Unicorn
  • Washington Irving Legend of Sleepy Willow
  • CS Lewis (The Narnia series)
  • Pam Conrad Stonewords
  • Beatrice Gormley Back to the Day Lincoln Was Shot
  • Judith St George The Mysterious Girl in the Garden
  • Phillipa Pearce Tom's Midnight Garden
  • Kaye Gibbons Ellen Foster
  • Robert Kimmel Smith Mostly Michael
  • Stephen Manes Be A Perfect Person in Just Three Days
  • Jaime Gilson Double Dog Dare
  • Doris Buchanan Smith A Taste of Blackberries
  • Joseph Krumgold ...And Now, Miguel
  • Jean Craighead George My Side of the Mountain
  • Nancy Farmer A Girl Named Disaster
  • Gail Gauthier A Year With Butch and Spike
  • James Berry Ajeemah and His Son
  • Ruth Yaffe Radin All Joseph Wanted
  • Lois Lowry Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst
  • Judy Blume Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (another surprise)
  • George MacDonald At the Back of the North Wind
  • Ruth White Belle Prater's Boy
  • John Christopher Beyond the Burning Lands
  • Nigel Hinton Buddy
  • Armstrong Sperry Call It Courage
  • Jack London Call of the Wild
  • Andre Davies Conrad's War
  • Robert D. San Souci Cut from the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend and Tall Tale
  • James Daugherty Daniel Boone
  • Cynthia Voight Dicey's Song
  • Alan Garner Elidor
  • David Rees Exeter Blitz
  • Katherine Paterson Flip-Flop Girl
  • Michelle Margorian Goodnight, Mister Tom
  • Todd Strasser Help! I'm Trapped in My Teacher's Body
  • Thomas Rockwell How to Eat Fried Worms
  • Esther Forbes Johnny Tremain
  • Patricia MacLachlan Journey
  • Marguerite Henry King of the Wind
  • Ronald Welch Knight Crusader
  • Barbara Timberlake Russel Last Left Standing
  • Sinclair Smith Let Me Tell You How I Died
  • Elvira Woodruff Letters from the Oveland Trail
  • Eileen Spinelli Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses
  • William Saroyan My Name is Aram
  • Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Night Cry
  • Adele Griffin Rainy Season
  • Jane Cutler Rats!
  • Anna Myers Red-Dirt Jessie
  • Grey Owl Sajo and Her Beaver People
  • Ann Nolan Clark Secret of the Andes
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan
  • William Pene Dubois The 21 Balloons
  • Cynthia DeFelice The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker
  • Avi The Blue Heron/Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway
  • Mary Norton The Borrowers
  • Katherine Paterson The Great Gilly Hopkins
  • Margaret Mahy The Haunting
  • Nina Bawden The House of Secrets
  • Cynthia Rylant The Islander
  • Betsy Byars The Midnight Fox
  • Paula Danzinger The Pistachio Prescription
  • Ian Serrailer The Silver Sword
  • Paula Fox The Slave Dancer
  • Ursula LeGuin The Wizard of Earthsea
  • L Frank Baum The Wizard of Oz
  • RL Stevenson Treasure Island
  • Natalie Babbit Tuck Everlasting
  • Irene Hunt Up A Road Slowly
  • Vera and Bill Cleaver Where the Lilies Bloom

I hope someone finds this useful, considering how long it took to type! I might even be persuaded to post last year's p4 list if it's helpful to you (provided I can find it though)...


Domestic Goddess said...

This is awesome! My kids are only 4 and 2, but I appreciate this list too! thank you for taking the time and effort to type this long list out. This is really great. If you don't mind, may I share this with some friends and my hubby too? :D Actually I have not read many of those in the list, so they shall be reading titles for the next 12 months too. Haha!

monlim said...

Hi, great to see you here! Sure, by all means share the list and happy reading!!

Alcovelet said...

Hi Mon, tks for the effort!! I can see this list is for ME!! I read quite a few of the mystery ones when I was about that age - I was one of those "read through meals" type. Yes, Edgar Allan Poe - sends chills down my spine even as I write. But there are a few notables missing - perhaps they're in the P4 or P6 list, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Baronesss Orczy? Makes me want to jump back into my old habits ...

monlim said...

Ad, you are SHARP!!! I just realised I forgot Arthur Conan Doyle. That's because Sherlock Holmes is a must-read for the kids, so his name was upfront, not with the list. The mystery genre would not be complete without this great character! I'll go correct it now.

Alcovelet said...

I just saw it myself when I enlarged the photo of her work. Looks like she had fun doing it too!

monlim said...

You mean "we", haha!!

Lilian said...

Thanks Mon for typing this list, what an effort. I have the list in hard copy somewhere but can never remember to bring it along when I go to the school library. Now I can just log on to your blog from the school's computer.

I've never heard of almost all the authors here and I don't think Brian would appreciate it if I start picking such books out for him :) Luckily, their reading programme this year requires him to choose a lot of different genres (can't remember how many) to read and review, and sure enough, the first book he chose to read was one from his favourite genre, fantasy adventure. I'll get him to choose from this list for the other genres.

monlim said...

I like that they read from different genres because it exposes them to different types of writing. The mystery genre is surprisingly quite tough to master - the kids had to write their own mystery story and from what I heard, some apparently couldn't grasp the concept of not giving away the plot right from the beginning, and how to throw in red herrings. I hope they do other genres next year.

I don't pick out books for Lesley-Anne either, but it's great to have a list - she picks the ones she's interested in when we go to the library. Since it's over 100 titles, that gives a wide selection and I guess you can probably find something you'll like. I actually own a few of them so she was lucky, didn't need to look go to bookshop or library to hunt books down for ERP :)

naggo-nitemare said...

Hi. I stumbled upon ur blog last wk when i searched 'GEP MOE'. I found ur postings well written, informative n refreshingly well balanced.

My own 10-yr-old boy is also in the GEP. It's nice to hear from a fellow parent with in a similar situation. Reading ur postings is like hearing myself speak, but articulated more fluently.

tks alot for laboriously typing out the P5 reading list. And i too was surprised tt encyclopaedia brown's included.

hahaha reading abt ur 'project mgt' experience reminds me to put my naggo-nitemare super powers to gd use next academic yr.

for now, i'm sooo glad tt the semester is coming to a close!

monlim said...

Hi Naggo-Nitemare, I'm so happy to find a fellow GEP parent here! It really is a journey made lighter with more companions :) Is your son in p4 or p5? Just 2 more weeks and we're done for the year, hooray!

Anonymous said...

hey. i'm a GEP kid and i remember the good ole ERP days - i handed up a shoddy piece of work that i completed myself that night and the rest of the class with their pretty sheets of vanguard merely had Mommy's ...guidance. you know what i mean. i can't remember the books i covered now but they were the ones that i'd heard were "the easiest" to do on. as you can probably tell, most of us didn't appreciate the project and the books we had to read. what i do know is that i've been voluntarily reading the books on this list nowadays, and i've been gaining much more value and appreciation for good fiction.. of wondrous Literature!

my point, i guess, is: GEP parents out there, please do not limit your children by this list. it may represent a collection of literary masterpieces but to be honest, your children aren't mature enough to consciously acknowledge the literary significance of these great works. yes, they are in the top 1% of the cohort but i do not believe that i have made sweeping statements. give them time and let them read trashy kid lit if they want because it is the reading, not the content, that is beneficial at this point in time.

(on the other hand you should force this list down their throats in secondary school if you need to, it'll do a world a good to mature mellow out pesky adolescents like myself)

ciao and good luck with your GEP kiddo

Elan said...

I stumbled upon your blog while trying to find some books on the ERP list for my younger son. He is in P5 GEP this year and my older one is in P6 GEP so that would be the same age as your daughter I guess.

Anyway, in my search, I have realised that the books listed under David Kherdian "The Turquiose Toad Mystery" and "Funny Bananas" do not exist! Some of the other books are so old that they are only available at the "used book repository" at the National Library. Sigh. I wonder when the last update of the ERP list was done.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the little bits of your blog and I am putting it into my favourites list for further reading during those quiet times at work :-)

monlim said...

Elan: thanks for the support! yah, I also found some of the books a little outdated. Many of them can't be found in NLB but guess what, they're available in the school libraries! I guess school libraries never throw anything out, hehe...

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog while trying to see if someone has a list of the ERP for this year and voila! My son is in P5 this year, so it's a great help. His list from school is not out yet. I enjoyed reading your blog and appreciate what you've written., even if you call yourself an IAA :). Will be checking your blog again!

I also like what you said about letting them take the GEP test on their own, without help. My son did that and despite his struggling with doing homework last year, it helped to know that he actually has "it".

Mother of a blur GEP boy

monlim said...

Anon: Always happy to welcome new readers! Glad to know you enjoy my blog.

Zhao Jiayi said...

Hey Mrs Lim! I am a P6 GEP pupils this year and I was very interested in how ERP was like last year; you see, the style and format has definitely changed - previously, there was more images than words (from what I can see), now, there are only words (we are supposed to do a write - up on the book); I definitely LA's way, it offers a more hands - on experience. I will like to know more about what GEP was like a few years ago. Thkx for such a meaningful post.
Jiayi (

monlim said...

Jiayi: That's interesting, I'm not sure if the format is "fixed" or whether L-A just chose to do it in a more pictorial style. I'm glad you find the sharing useful for you :)

Julina said...

Thank you for this initiative and our generosity so that other parents and students, regardless of whether they are "GEP-certified" or not, can benefit from this.


Anonymous said...

Hi monlim, I am so thankful for your blog. I've been looking for information on GEP, and what I've got so far are bits and pieces of comments with little context provided. Then God led me to this blog. Finally something "suitable" for following... :)

Your thoughts and parenting style more or less echo mine, and the topics covered match what pops up in my mind from time to time.

I have 2 sons, one in P3 and the other K2. This topic of GEP comes up every and then, and I've been thinking hard about it lately. I attended the first P3 parents briefing in Feb, and his form teacher mentioned about GEP screening in Aug. My son is in top class in a neighbourhood school, so I suppose they are considered "GEP potential", though I believe giftedness doesn't tie with academic results. I was rather put off, especially just after reading about how some parents send their kids for "GEP training". Why inform us so early???!!!

I was even more upset when my son brought home a notice (with MOE letterhead) about exact dates and math topics covered. So who is encouraging who to complicate matters...:(

Perhaps I've been naive and idealistic so far, I realise it's not so straightforward. I even contemplated to opt out totally, to avoid opening a can of worms per se. I talk like my son sure get into GEP...haha!

Anyway, thanks for your sharing, and your effort in typing out the reading list. Such hard work!!!

I look forward to reading the rest of your blog, especially the letter to Mr Heng Swee Keat...

Good job mummy!

Gina Lee

monlim said...

Gina: Glad this was useful to you. GEP has always been a controversial topic. To me, it's good cos it provides a type of education that this group of kids really needs. But it has been waylaid by all the coaching nonsense, so now you have additional problems with kids in there who are not supposed to be there in the first place. Sigh.

MOE lets you know what math topics will be covered, I guess just in case there are some gifted kids with no help who end up being unable to do the paper. But knowing the topics doesn't really help cos you still have to do the general papers which are IQ-based.

Anyway, all the best to your son! I like your attitude - if he doesn't get in, so be it. But if he does, do consider, it IS a good programme.

Anonymous said...

I was a former GEP kid too and your list brought back memories. I remember exactly which books I read (some 22 years later) and I absolutely loved them. However, I too, was frequently shabby with the assignments that came after the reading and it wasn't till years later that I fully appreciated the beautiful writings and storytelling.

Having been in GEP, I absolutely understand why it is a controversial programme, I can only say for myself that I loved it and only much later did I appreciate the effort, customization and patience that the teachers had for creativity and many a time, craziness. It didn't always have to do with being smarter or even a better student and many children never felt that way.

When they published the list of 100 iconic books recently, I ran through the list and realized I had read 87 of the books between the ages of 10-19, conversely, my husband, non-GEP but typical "brand-name schools" had read <30 of the books and most of those in his late 20s. I realized that the true benefit of the ERP is that it provides a framework that makes you a better writer and inculcates a long love affair and discipline with language and reading.

So with both of these, I really think it is the experience itself and the self-adjustment comes later, which you are giving your child- opening this avenue for them to discover and love and not, that you should do it to rack up hits or to make them competitive. Not particularly easy for parents these days, but let them enjoy these lists and school:)

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