An Ilkley woman who was inspired to write poems after helping children to read has seen her work in print for the first time.

Five books of verse composed by Josie Whitehead have been published and will be sent to schools, libraries and bookshops across the county.

The 392 printed poems were selected by teachers across West Yorkshire and use rhymes to help children learn how to read and write.

The five volumes range from humorous nonsense poems to verse inspired by the local landscape, including one called The Story of Rombald’s Giant. She has a further 360 poems unpublished.

Mrs Whitehead, 68, started to write poetry four years ago after reciting a poem to pupils at Ilkley’s All Saints Primary School, where she volunteered to listen to young children read.

A former business studies teacher, she says her shorthand skills were useful in breaking words down into phonemes (sounds), which helped children understand how to read and write. Her website has attracted nearly 250,000 visitors from across the world in less than two years.

Mrs Whitehead said she had tried to write poems in the way that she and children enjoyed reading them.

“I have brought back rhyme and rhythm and metre and added lots of stories,” she said.

“I have had letters from educationalists who have told me I have done a great service to teachers of literacy. There is a lot of research going on at the moment with the important link between rhyming and rhythmic poetry which leads children to become better phonemically aware.

“Phonemic awareness is a key constituent in literacy, for children need to be able to hear individual sounds in words in order to read.”

The books have been printed by Horsforth publishers AMS Educational Publishers and are priced £8.25.