Archive for January, 2012

More for those reluctant boy readers

January 31, 2012

So, they’ve read “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. They’ve read the “Tom Gates” books. Perhaps you’re gaining a bit of momentum with your “slightly keen” reader. So what next? The  new kid on the block joining these other hapless heroes is  “Big Nate”.  Although they have only just come out in book format, Big Nate stories  were the original inspiration for the “Wimpy Kid ” books, when they were previously published as a newspaper comic strip.

The books are a combination of simple text and comic strips and seem to be very popular with boys, particularly in Years 5 and 6. Some of you reading this may be worried that all these books are just too simple. But if we’re encouraging them to love books, does it really matter? At least they’re not saying “I hate books”, which often seems to be the case with the “less keen” reader. So, back to “Big Nate” He believes he’s destined for greatness (a fortune cookie told him so). He’s the original rebel without a clue who muddles his way through life battling over zealous teachers, mediocre school lunches and trying not to conform. Huge fun! Why not buy them one and get them on the first rung of the ” loving reading” ladder.

These books are at sapphire reading level.

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Football books for a boy who really doesn’t like reading

January 26, 2012

Getting boys to be interested in reading can sometimes be hard work, but if it’s on a subject they really enjoy, it’s obviously going to be easier. Tom Palmer, who is now the  author of many children’s books says it was reading about football that changed his life. Tom says

“I wasn’t keen on reading when I was young. My mum was worried about me because I didn’t do very well at school. She encouraged me to read about football in newspapers, magazines and books. Gradually I came to love books”. Later Tom went on to do his A levels at the age of 21 and take a European literature degree at the age of 24. He is the author of two main book series about football. The first is the “Football Academy” series for children aged 7-11. These are fairly easy to read- reading level Amethyst and feature some brilliant footballl stories. The other series are for slightly older children aged 10+ are in our Amber reading level., and combine a thrilling mix of football and crime.

For a child who is not very keen on reading, choose “easy to read” books first, such as Tom’s Football Academy books. Once they get going with these, or maybe the David Beckham Academy books, try them with Dan Freedman’s Jamie Johnson series.For more, easy to read, exciting books for reluctant readers, have a look  at our “Reluctant Readers” page at Hummingbird Books.

Encouraging children to read – a step by step guide – part 2.

January 19, 2012

So now for the second part of our blog:

4.If they are only just starting to read “chapter” books on their own make sure there are plenty of pictures. It certainly helps the story along.

5. Make sure the book isn’t too thick. The prospect of reading a really long book can be all too much for the new reader.

6.I know that the temptation is to “stretch” children by giving them something that is quite a lot of effort, but I would urge you to consider whether if you were sitting down to enjoy a good book, you would want one that was an effort to read, perhaps because the words were hard to read or you didn’t understand all the meanings. Let them get the reading bug first and be begging you to give them the latest in a favourite series (even if it is the 75th Rainbow Magic book they’ve read), then, ever so gradually, try something else, one small step up. If they’re not keen, they’re probably not quite ready to move on. At the end of the day, once they get the reading bug, I don’t think you’ll be able to stop them and they’ll naturally move on to harder things. If they’re reading a lot of books, join the library-you don’t have to buy them. Local libraries are usually more than happy to order you as many books as your child wants from a series and on children’s tickets they rarely charge for the privilege.

7. Try to find books that are popular with other children. It seems that if one child likes a particular book, there is a very good chance that others of the same age or reading at a similar level will like it too. Look at book reviews and choose only books that have 4 and 5* ratings. Take care with reviews that are written by adults who say that they “loved this book when I was young”.Some of the classics, although enjoyed by many children have quiote a lot of description and it seems that in the fast paced world in which we now live, children often cannot face wading through 7 pages setting the scene, before anything actually “happens” in the story.

Hummingbird Books only lists books that children have rated as 4 or 5* books, so you may find this a useful resource when looking for books for your child.

8. Ask friends for ideas for books to read,  something they have enjoyed. When children chat about books, they tend to encourage each other to read, maybe swapping books to give each other something new to try.

9) If your child is a bit older and is perhaps a reluctant reader, although quite capable, follow the guidelines given here still, but ensure that the subject matter of the books is suitable for his/her age and not “babyish”. Books for reluctant readers are in a special section on our website for this reason.

10) If your child has always found reading difficult, again, follow the guidelines given here, but ensure that the subject matter of the books he/she is reading is age appropriate – more ideas in our section for struggling  and dyslexic readers.

If you have any great tips to encourage your child’s love of reading, we’d love to hear from you.

Encouraging children to read – a step by step guide – part 1

January 18, 2012

Many parents I talk to ask, “How can I really get my child reading?” Sometimes they say things like “I absolutely love Michael Morpurgo’s books. I can’t work out why he doesn’t want to read them”.

OK, so getting your child reading may be a slow process, but it will definitely be worth the wait.Hopefully we can give you a few guidelines. Encouraging a love of reading in your child is one of the most wonderful gifts a parent can give to their child. Sure it’s very annoying when George in your child’s class has read “All 7 books in the Harry Potter series” as his mother announces to the teacher in a stage whisper (hoping everyone will hear) and your child is still struggling to move on from Horrid Henry. But if you rush it and suggest they read books that are too difficult, you’ll be more likely to put them off altogether.

So here are the first three steps in my action plan for getting your child reading

  1. Let your child see how much fun books can be-if you can, read to them at night. This can be as much fun for you as for them, especially if you put on all the different voices (don’t worry-hopefully, no-one is listening).If the word “book” only means something they struggle through at school, clearly you are less likely to help them to become a book lover.
  2. Choose books that are at the right reading level for your child. This is crucial. If they can easily read the book, they are much more likely to engage with it.We are just introducing a new system at Hummingbird Books where every book will be categorised with a reading level. This is similar to the old system of reading age, which was essentially how complex the vocabulary was, but it takes into consideration lots of other factors as well such as font size, number of words on a page, number of pictures.
  3. Always check the font size in particular. When I am helping children to choose books in school I always open the book after we have looked at the front cover and read the synopsis on the back and before asking the child to read a bit of the book, I ask them if they think the book might suit them. At this point they often say “No, the writing is too small”. So we go back to the drawing board to look for a book with writing of the “right size”.

In tomorrow’s blog we will look at the other factors that affect a child’s enjoyment of books and reading.

Award Winning Children’s Books

January 13, 2012

I’m very excited to announce that we have been chosen this week to receive a #WOW award from Jacqueline Gold (Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox). Every Wednesday Jacqueline asks businesses on Twitter to tell her about their businesses and she then selects the three she likes the best, tweeting their details to her 18000 followers.

So I thought I’d give it a go. I seriously couldn’t believe it when, on Wednesday afternoon, my inbox started to go mad with new followers on Twitter, congratulations from various people and there buried deep within the huge stack of emails was the one from Jacqueline Gold herself to say that she had chosen us as one of her favourite businesses this week.

Jacqueline said “Reading is such an important skill so this is great. I love that you listen to the children about what books they like.”  As you all know, this is the basis for Hummingbird Books and is what seems to strike a chord with both parents and children.As I always tell the children in school.” These are not books that parents say you should read, or that teachers say you should read; these are books that you and other children tell me you want to read.”

Thank you so much, Jacqueline, for making my day and helping us to raise the profile of Hummingbird Books.

New reading levels on all our children’s books

January 11, 2012

Have you seen our new initiative to give every book on our site a reading level?

In this digital age in which we tend to shop on line a lot, and therefore don’t always have a book in our hand when we are considering a purchase, it is often difficult to work out whether a child will actually be able to read the book when it arrives.Admittedly, Amazon and others now have a “Look Inside” facility, but the idea of our new grading system is  that you will first be able to assess what level your child is reading at (eg Ruby) and then choose books from that category up until the time when they’re reading them too quickly (and it’s costing you an arm and a leg in books) at which point it’s time to move onto the next level.

Check it out on our “Reading Levels” page at www.hummingbirdbooks.co.uk  .

We haven’t categorised all our books yet, so please email us if you’d like details of the reading level of a specific book. anne@hummingbirdbooks.co.uk or talk to us on Twitter @hummibooks or Facebook/HummingbirdBooks.