Animal books for 10-11 year olds

December 8, 2012

41PUIrAtDWL__SL160_If you are looking for a great stocking filler for Christmas for a 10 or 11 year old child who loves animals try “Skyhawk” by Gill Lewis. Set in the highlands of Scotland, it is a tale of  loyalty and hope in which two children, Iona and Callum become firm friends while protecting a rare bird of prey.

Kate Humble of the  BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch says this book is  “An edge-of-your-seat wildlife adventure that tells a very human story of friendship, discovery and an incredible journey.” See “Skyhawk” reviews and buy at Amazon.

Gill’s second book, ”White Dolphin” is just as exciting. The author is a vet and her interest in wildlife and caring for our natural world comes through clearly in both her novels. Buy this book for a child who loves animals – they will not be disappointed. See “White Dolphin” reviews and buy at Amazon

(Probably suitable only for age 10+ as both books have sad/tragic parts to them).

To view a wide selection of animal books for 9-11 year olds take a look at our main website, Hummingbird Books.

Why is your “reluctant reader” reluctant to read?

December 6, 2012

Most parents understandably assume that the reason their son or daughter is reluctant to read is because they just haven’t found a book that they like yet. The child’s response appears to back this opinion up. “I didn’t like that book- it was boring”.

Knowing that reading is a big factor in their child’s progress at school parents often try to tempt their reluctant son or daughter with no end of different books, most of which remain unopened in the child’s bedroom. They even buy the latest children’s bestsellers and can’t understand why their child finds them boring when other  readers are loving them. The conclusion they often reach is that  their child will never like reading- they just prefer other things.

I would strongly challenge that view. In almost every case, I believe that a child becomes a reluctant reader because they are trying to read texts that are just too difficult for them. A book that a child reads for pleasure needs to be much easier than the book they are capable of reading. If they stumble over only a few words when reading alone they can fail to pick up what is going on in the story and as such will find the book “boring” because they don’t actually know what’s going on.

As a teacher, I often read books to whole classes of children (right up to the age of 11). Before I get to work on the reluctant readers (typically between 4 and 10 in any class of 30 children) I read a book to the whole class, one that is suitable for their age group. I very rarely have a child who says they haven’t enjoyed a  story I have read- often story time is the most popular time of the day. The difference is that the children are not struggling to read the book, they are free to enjoy the story. If you are the parent or teacher of a reluctant reader, try them with something suited to their age group but that is easy to read. I think you may be surprised at how this will entice them into the world of books. If you want to know which level your child is comfortable reading, try them with the varying difficulties of text on our “Reading Levels” page on our main website, Hummingbird Books.

Sometimes when I go to my local library to look at the latest children’s books  I hear parents say things like “Oh, don’t have that one, that’s a bit easy for you” and I just want to say “No, let her have that one- in fact get lots more like that and you will be giving your child a precious gift – the love of reading.”

In addition, many of my fellow teachers have the view that a child should be challenged in the books they are reading with ever harder vocabulary. I would suggest that the child will tend to push themselves on as their love of reading grows. A radical view, maybe, but I have tried going back several stages with children so many times now and it seems to work in virtually every case. The only children it hasn’t worked with are those that have become so de-motivated by the process of trying to enjoy books that they just can’t get over the hurdle that makes them think they dislike books –  maybe 1 or 2% of children. If you have a child like this, you could always try our reluctant readers’ scheme, a one-to-one telephone advisory service for parents that carries a unique money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied with the results. Why not treat yourself for Christmas and give your child one of the greatest gifts of all- the love of reading?

Buy them the Faraway Tree Stories for Christmas – children aged between 5 and 8 love them.

December 6, 2012

Enid Blyton has gone in and out of fashion for many years now, but the Faraway Tree stories never fail to delight with their mix of magic, adventure and humour.

61vCDnWbLNL__SL160_The first in the series is “The Enchanted Wood” which tells the story of three children who climb up a magic tree in a nearby wood and discover that all sorts of exciting things happen there. They meet Moon-Face who has a funny round face just like a moon, Silky the fairy and the incorrigible Saucepan Man who is very deaf and always mishears what the children say!

Even better are the strange and curious lands that they discover at the top of the tree-Rocking Land where everyone rolls around the whole time and where they have lots of cushions to protect you from bumps and bruises and the amazing Land of Birthdays where you sit at the birthday tea table and simply wish for whatever you want to eat.

These books would make any child a perfect Christmas gift, either to read to themselves if they are good readers (these books are at Sapphire level) or to have read to them (I remember my own son begging to have “just another chapter” whenever we read these lovely bedtime stories). Follow the link to buy “The Enchanted Wood” which is the first in the series. You can also buy 3 Faraway Tree stories in a boxed set.

If they’ve already read The Faraway Tree stories, The Wishing Chair series is another lovely choice.

Would you like to give your child help with their reading?

November 30, 2012

As regular readers of this blog will know, my main aim in all the teaching I do, is to get children reading well. Literacy underpins everything your child does at school – from being able to read the questions on a maths paper to being able to read a story in order to answers the questions about it. Reading is even supposed to make people happier!

Children who struggle to keep up with their peers will often be found reading books during quiet reading sessions that are far too difficult for them (and from which they derive no benefit). As a result,  problems with reading can become a vicious circle.

I recently started working with children on a brilliant programme which helps children to become better readers. It is called “Toe-by-Toe” and has been developed over a period of 25 years (with rigorous testing to see what works and what doesn’t) for children (and adults) who struggle to read. It is especially useful for dyslexia sufferers, but works for anyone who just wants to improve their reading.The programme is administered in the form of a workbook and can be tutored by anyone who can read eg parents/teachers/a friend. It does need commitment, though, 20-30 minutes a day for around 6 months to a year, but the results are truly phenomenal in most cases.41XFA9YHEDL__SL500_AA300_

I have trialled this with  several children in the last few months, all of whom are making great progress- one has increased his reading age in just 9 weeks by 6 months. Not only that, but his confidence has gone up in leaps and bounds. His class teacher says he is generally more confident, even in maths. The “I really can do it” feeling that this gives children who may have struggled for years, can make a huge difference to their self esteem.

“Toe-by-Toe is definitely not a programme to be dipped in and out of. It needs firm daily commitment and you need to follow the teaching instructions on each page carefully. But if you would like to help your child with reading and are prepared to spend 20 minutes a day doing so, you should see some excellent results. Follow this link to buy  Toe by Toe and to read reviews by people who have used it. Amazon has no fewer than 90 reviews at an average of 5*s!

Pirate books for 6, 7 and 8 year olds

November 19, 2012

One of our customers recently asked me about books with pirates in, for  6 year olds. It seems that there are a lot of very popular books about pirates aimed at the under 5s, but relatively few for older children.

Pirate books for 6-8 year oldsHowever if you’re looking for something with a fairly easy reading level that they can read for themselves try “Stories of Pirates” from  Usborne Young Reading (Series 1). It is at Emerald reading level, and if you click on the following link you can look inside the book – “Stories of Pirates” (and if you do decide to buy at Amazon, we get a small percentage of the profit which enables us to keep Hummingbird Books going). One of the lovely things about the Usborne books is the beautiful colour pictures – pictures seem to be very important to children just getting going with “Read Alone” books.

Another lovely series for new readers, also at Emerald level, is the Corgi Pups, and in particular the book Yo Ho Ho. Although out of print now, you can still pick up new and used copies at Amazon. Great fun story all about Mr Cutlass, class 3’s new teacher who wears a spotted handkerchief and has a parrot on his shoulder! Pirate Books for 6-8 year olds

Books to buy your 9-11 year old for Christmas

November 9, 2012

Books for 9-11 year olds

More and more of the 9-11 year olds that I teach are telling me how amazing the David Walliams books are. Even reluctant readers are reading them (through choice, not because anyone said they had to!). If you have a son or daughter who doesn’t really like reading, try reading one of these brilliant books to them and they’ll soon be hooked! Of course, they won’t choose to read it unless their reading is good enough to manage it easily, so check out whether they can manage the text without help, by having a “Look Inside” Gangsta Granny.

Books for 9-11 year olds     There are 5 books in total including “Billionaire Boy”, “The Boy in the Dress”, “Mr Stink” and the latest, “Ratburger”. David Walliams is being described as the “next Roald Dahl”, so don’t let your children miss out on this amazing new author. All the books are at Amethyst Reading Level.

Buy “Ratburger” now.

Buy “Gangsta Granny” now.

Buy”Mr Stink” now.

Buy “The Boy in the Dress” now.

Buy “Billionaire Boy” now.

Books to buy your 7 and 8 year old keen reader for Christmas

November 9, 2012

Christmas holidays are the perfect time to encourage your keen reader- if the weather isn’t great and you’ve got lots of jobs to do at home, give them a good book and enjoy the peace and quiet!

To help you find books at the right reading level for your child, we have assigned each of our books a reading level, more details are which can be found in the reading levels section of our website.

The Enchanted Horse by Magdalen Nabb is a delightful, Christmassy story-the perfect book for 7 and 8 year olds who enjoy reading.Books for 7 and 8 year old keen readers

The illustrations make it  particularly special. To  have a look inside the book, click on the link to Amazon where you will be able to see the first few pages of the story. This book is at Sapphire reading level.

Books for 7 and 8 year old keen readersIf your child prefers whole series’ of books, the Astrosaurs, Steve Cole’s hilariously funny stories about dinosaurs in space are great fun. If you would like a Christmas theme, a set of 3 Astrosaurs with Christmas stories in is available through Amazon .Astrosaurs are also at Sapphire reading level.

Holly Webb books are particularly appealing to little girls. They areBooks for 7 and 8 year old keen readers the perfect stories to read at Christmas time, although sometimes a little hard on the heart strings. Oscar’s Lonely Christmas is just one of many titles. This series all feature puppies and kittens.If you prefer to buy a whole series Amazon are currently listing a set of 10 Holly Webb books which work out at around £1.50 each- perfect for your avid reader who will need lots of books to keep them going over the holidays.Holly Webb’s books are at Ruby level.

Best books to buy 7 and 8 year old reluctant readers for Christmas

October 30, 2012

If you have a reluctant reader in your family. you’re probably best to buy them books that are easy enough for them to read on their own, but that still have a great story. One of the biggest reasons for children not choosing to pick up a book through choice is that the book is too difficult for them, so when choosing books for them to enjoy over the Christmas holidays (without necessarily needing your help) it is best to choose books that are several stages easier than they are actually able to read. In this way I have managed to turn many reluctant readers into keen readers.

Here are one or two ideas for Christmas.If your child is comfortable reading at Diamond reading level try the Usborne first reading book(between levels 2 and 4). Androcles and the Lion is a great choice and the girls seem to love The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, but there are plenty of others to choose from.If you would like to see how difficult the text is to read, click on the link for Androcles and the Lion and then “Look Inside” the book.

At Emerald level  Ricky Ricotta’s Magic Robot series is much loved by boys of 7 and above.

If your child is reading at Ruby level, you can’t go far wrong with Horrid Henry, although if they are happily reading on their own at Ruby level I don’t think you have anything to worry about in terms of them being a reluctant reader. I always like children to be reading at Ruby level by the end of Year 3 if at all possible. If they are, there is a good chance they will become keen readers in the future.  Another great series for Ruby readers are the dog and cat stories from Battersea Dogs’ Home . Much loved by little girls these heartwarming stories are just right for Christmas.

Why not buy them some new books for Christmas and enjoy the peace during the holidays?

Get your children reading for pleasure today.

September 19, 2012

Our children learn to read at school, but while they’re learning the mechanics of reading we, as parents, need to be continually encouraging them to read books for pleasure. Even as they are learning to read in Y1 and Y2 , we need to be finding them easy to read books that will reinforce what they have learnt on the reading scheme at school but much  more importantly persuade them that reading a good book is fun. There are lots of great books out there that children can enjoy reading, such as those from the Usborne First Reading scheme. These books have very little text in the simpler books, but have a large font that children like and lots of lovely full colur illustrations. They cover many different subjects, but I find that children of this age particularly like the fairy stories in the series. As the publishers themselves say, these books are “irresistible for children learning to read.”

When reading for pleasure, children need to read books at a much simpler level than they would on the reading scheme at school, to ensure that they can read alone and not necessarily need adult help.They will be much more likely to enjoy a book that is simple to read than one that they struggle their way through.This lays the groundwork for them to become keen readers in the future.As they move on through the primary school years parents can really help their children  by finding lots of books for their children to read for pleasure. The children that read for pleasure usually find it easier to do well at school generally. Continuing to read stories to your child  helps as well.

We have now launched our programme to get reluctant readers reading. If you have a child (aged between 7 and 11) who does not enjoy reading for pleasure, we can help you to set them on the path to reading.  If you’d like to see what one of the Mums who has tried this scheme has to say you can read all about her experiences at Sarah’s blog.

Picture by Mike Babcock  at Flickr

Our recent reading study

September 18, 2012

The results of our recent reading study looking at how to get children reading for pleasure, have far exceeded our expectations (and, it seems, those of the children’s parents!). You may remember that we wanted to see whether the simple step by step programme we had designed, could get children who were reluctant readers, to read for pleasure . The second aim was to refine the programme by testing which strategies worked best with children.

Many parents and teachers end up tearing their hair out because they have a child who “doesn’t like books”. They try every type of book, on all sorts of subjects from animals to horse riding and football to dinosaurs in space. Nothing works! “This child clearly does not like books- they’d rather be out playing football or watching TV.” is what we frequently hear from parents. After months and sometimes even years of trying, you can understand why both parents and teachers feel this way. However, we challenge this view very strongly. Our findings have been that it is rarely because they don’t like books (how many children don’t like having a book read to them?) it is because the ones they are being given are too difficult, even if they are books designed for children of their age. Sure, they can often read most of the words, but a book needs to be at a considerably lower reading level than the child can actually read, to ensure that they understand the story and that it isn’t hard work. How many adults enjoy a book that is hard work when they’re reading for pleasure?

In addition, a book needs to be a really good one. In these days of copious reviews, for everything from washing machines to hotels and, of course books, it is indeed a brave person who will choose to buy a book that only has a 2* rating. That is why every book that we used on our study was one that had been previously recommended by children as being a really good 5* story.

Here are some of the comments made by parents whose chidren took part in the reading study. Most were 7 or 8 years old, but the final review comes from the mother of a 10 year old girl who is severely dyslexic.

“I would like to thank you so much for the help you gave James.  He has progressed in such a short time from a boy who wouldn’t read even small stories to himself , to one who is now enjoying reading children’s chapter books on his own. He has always enjoyed Maths, and now I can see his love of reading developing too.  This will only increase as he experiences more and more of what the children’s book world has to offer!  His favourites are Dirty Bertie and Secret Seven!  On the journey you set him, he definitely enjoyed the Greek myths!  Thank you so much once again.

” I can’t praise your reading scheme enough. My 8 year old daughter who found reading an uphill battle now wants to read and look up the meaning of words in the dictionary. She even has the confidence to read out loud in front of her friends. By going back one step, her reading ability has jumped three steps forward. Many thanks for your time and advice. A happy mum.”

From the mother of a severely dyslexic 10 year old. When she started the programme, she was not reading at all to herself. She stayed on the programme for a few weeks longer than the 6 weeks (2 months in all) because we could see she was about to launch into books in a big way.

“Louise is on her 3rd Jake Cake book; she loves them! She is on book 6 of the library reading challenge- I can’t believe it!”

For any of our blog followers wishing to try our programme for themselves, please see click on the following link which gives details of how you and your child can take part. The programme is suitable for children aged between 7 and 11 who have a minimum reading age of 6 years 6 months.

Why wait? Get your reluctant reader reading today.