Archive for December, 2012

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.