Friday, 16 March 2012

Learning to read diversions; Usborne, Egmont and more

Here's all the other stuff I've gleaned but haven't said in the other posts in a lazy Friday list ...

1. 'Reading Eggs' is a phonics based online 'learn to read' system which started out in Australia I think. It's not particularly cheap (although they normally give you a reasonable free trial to see if you like it) but I found it excellent if you don't have ishoos with your kids attaching themselves to a screen. Moshi Monsters-like, you have a house to decorate by earning points and each lesson you complete also gives you a new character to play with. Allowing Bill to complete it whilst Eddie watched over his shoulder probably did more to teach them to read than anything I did. Tiger mothering whilst I drank tea and read the paper- perfect (obviously we also do loads of more nourishing activities too involving mud, trees and eggboxes ;)..)

2. The Egmont 'Bananas' range seemed to have some of the more interesting and attractive looking stories for confidence building once they'd got going.

3. Ditto the Usborne 'Learn to Read' and 'Young Reader' series. At some point I shall probably write a love letter post to Usborne- it's very rare that I dislike any of their books- and for reference titles they're the tops. If you're minded to invest in any of their 'reader' titles check out the compendium volumes which stick a few together and are much more economical. Bill has read this book cover to cover multiple times; it's been a brilliant investment, in fact I just had to retrieve it from his bed to photograph.

Less good that it's so gendered but there are plenty of others of varying complexity and different appeal. This one has 18 stories in it, including  pretty good versions of Sir Gawain and Treasure Island; some from their Stage 1 young readers and some from their stage 2 ( equates to independent readers who need confidence building- on the verge of chapter book stuff). Definitely ticks the box of supportive 'reader' that is also proper book.

4. Had some success with  the further along VRH kids with the Dorling Kindersley Readers; although even at level 1 they're relatively complex. These would be very worthwhile checking out for the stereotypical reluctant reader  fiction-phobe; lots of Star Wars, Marvel and Natural History titles. Ooo just seen they've got a Pokemon one, I know a few people who might be interested in that...

5. When you have a child who teaches himself, then you don't need any dullery-dull dull readers at all; easy peasy. All children will get to a point where they can and want to do that I guess but at very different ages depending on developmental priorities and learning styles (I would rather Eddie had prioritised wiping his bottom efficiently first to be honest). Therefore the Steiner type school of thought of just leaving them to it/starting much later is almost certainly right. I am just too controlling- the fact that I recognise it is no excuse.

Having done these posts this week I will return to proper individual consideration of proper individual books next week. Assuming you don't have me marked as some kind of  drooling ,clawing, staring, smiling, pushy mother monster now and will return.

In all seriousness, clearly the most important thing you do as a parent to get your child to read is read to them and read to them and keep on reading to them whilst scattering the house with books, comics, graphic novels, pizza leaflets, cartoons, poetry, newsprint, recipes, Top Trumps, puzzles and plays and hope that eventually they break the surface of  the mound of printed matter panting and clutching something in their hand that they'd like to look at.
That's my excuse for the state of the house anyway.


  1. I'm too controlling too- except of course for the housework!

    I need to write a love letter to the Usborne people too, we've never had one of their books my kids don't love.

    1. I have no self-control of course- it's all directed at other people :)