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Book reviews - learning to read

The books reviewed on this page are especially produced by their publishers to give children a graded introduction to reading.  These books will give you a good idea of the type of book your children can read and then you can help them choose from the wide range of books available.

We have a page dedicated to Hachette Books' graded readers and their Learn to Read website.

Letterland

"At Letterland, we believe that small is beautiful. We are a family-owned independent publisher with a big reputation to uphold. For over 40 years, our mission has been to ensure that as many young children as possible have fun learning to read, write and spell. We want our smallest customers to enjoy our books and to develop a love of reading that will stay with them for the rest of their lives."

Letterland Phonics Readers Red Series

This is a set of 30 lively and enjoyable stories across eight books which progress through the letter sounds. Children can read the stories as soon as they know just a few of the letter sounds and this gives them a huge sense of satisfaction and will encourage them to persevere with their reading. The stories are fun and the lively illustrations and friendly Letterland characters have great appeal. The imaginative, decodable stories gradually introduce new phonic elements and build on the vocabulary from previous stories. The order of teaching letter sounds in this series is the popular s a t p i n order. The 8 books contain a total of 30 engaging stories that children can use to decode the 26 most regular alphabet sounds, as well as blended sounds, the digraph ng and some tricky high-frequency words. Children need to learn the tricky words such as 'they', 'of' and 'said' and these are included in the stories and highlighted so the adult can point them out to children. The front of each book displays the sounds focused on in the book so parents can see that the level is right for their child. Each of the stories has a title page which shows the sounds to be found in the story. Whatever reading scheme children are using at school, these books will give valuable extra reading practice and help to instill in children a love of books and reading.
Letterland Letterland

Letterland Phonics Readers Blue Series

I love the Letterland characters and children respond really well to these characters who bring letters to life. Continue your child's reading progression with this set, which builds on the phonic sounds introduced in the Red books (and other phonic progression that might be studied) and continues the learning of reading and blending in a progressive manner. There are 10 books in this set and each book contains a selection of enjoyable short stories; the stories gradually increase in length and in the complexity of the sounds used until children are reading really substantial stories by the end. In total there are 32 engaging stories featuring the phonic elements introduced in the order of teaching listed below, as well as some 'tricky' high-frequency words. Consonant digraphs - sh, ch, th, wh, ph. Vowel digraphs - a_e, ai, ay, e_e, ea, ee, y, i_e, ie, igh, y, o_e, oa, ow, u_e, ue, oo, ew. r-controlled - ar, or, er, ir, ur, wr. Further digraphs & digraphs o, oo, u, oy, oi, aw, au, ow, ou, ear, air. This is a really enjoyable set of books for children to read and their confidence will really be boosted by the progression and by reading stories that are meaningful and fun. Buy from Letterland.
 Letterland  Letterland

Egmont Reading Ladder

"Reading Ladder is a series with a simple aim: to help children enjoy learning to read. Featuring well-loved authors, classic characters and favourite non-fiction topics, these new books have been developed with leading literacy consultant Nikki Gamble. With a simple system of three levels, these titles can be used to help children practice their reading skills independently or through supported shared reading with parents." Reading Ladder features well-loved authors, classic characters and favourite topics and it's wonderful to see these features in a reading series; children will really respond well to this aspect of the books.

Thomas and Friends: The Big Job (Reading Ladder Level 1)

Level 1 titles are perfect for new readers who are beginning to read simple stories with help; there are currently (March 2016) 14 stories at this level; it covers book bands pink - green of the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme. Ever-popular Thomas the Tank Engine is here to help engage children and inspire them to read with confidence - it's brilliant to see such a popular star of children's books featured in a range of learning to read stories; there are four Thomas stories in all. This book includes two stories about Thomas and his friends. In one we meet the big new crane, Rocky, who soon proves his usefulness. In the second story Harvey, another crane, soon proves that being different can be good. With colourful pictures, short sentences and simple, phonetic-based vocabulary, children will love learning to read with Thomas and they can also enjoy the activities at the end of the book. Also at Level 1 is Mr Men: Happy Fun (Reading Ladder Level 1) with two funny stories - one about that jolly, round character Mr. Happy and Mr Grumble who is quite the opposite; and the other about the incredibly strong Mr. Strong. With plenty of repetition of words to reinforce learning, these stories will encourage children to read and will help them to enjoy books. Find out more about the series here https://www.egmont.co.uk/books/category/learning/reading-ladder/

It's a Dog's Life (Reading Ladder Level 2) by Michael Morpurgo

Level 2 titles are perfect for readers who are growing in confidence and are beginning to enjoy longer stories; it covers book bands orange - purple. Russ is a busy farm dog who has always been very special to Lula - until she gets her wish; a horse for her birthday. This is a sweet and touching tale of one girl and her dog exploring farm life, and it's beautifully illustrated to increase children's reading pleasure. The inclusion of top-flight children's authors in a series such as this serves a valuable dual purpose - children are guaranteed a really good read and they will be encouraged to seek out more books by the same authors. Tony Bradman, Jacqueline Wilson and Jeff Brown are among the authors of the 20 books currently (March 2016) available at this level.

A day in the life of T. Rex (Reading Ladder Level 3) by Susie Brooks

Level 3 titles are perfect for fluent readers who are beginning to read exciting, challenging stories independently; this level covers book bands gold - lime. This title will really appeal to young dinosaur fans and it's good to see non-fiction included to give a choice of reading material. The book takes the young reader on a journey back in time to discover all about this fearsome dinosaur; along the way they will also read about many of T. Rex’s dinosaur neighbours, including Struthiomimus, Ankylosaurus and Edmontosaurus. The book is well and informatively illustrated and includes dinosaur facts, a brief timeline, a glossary and index and a very handy pronunciation guide - it's a very good exampe of a first non-fiction book. There are plenty of stories to enjoy in the series too including Who Will Marry Prince Harry? (Reading Ladder Level 3); Prince Harry loves lists and they are always full of things he wants to do - but one day, the King and Queen decide it is time for a change. Now there’s only one thing on Harry’s list. He must find the perfect princess ... and get married! This modern-day Cinderella story is great fun and children will really enjoy it.

Red Rocket Readers

"Red Rocket Readers offer a carefully controlled sequence of challenges throughout the levels to ensure your students progress with confidence and enthusiasm. Entertaining and engaging informational topics and fictional storylines are at the core of this comprehensive series of 480+ leveled reading books for guided reading, shared and small group reading, remedial programs such as Reading Recovery. Starting at Foundation Level with the multi award-winning Alphabet Explorers, we then move on to ten core levels – Pre-Reading and Emergent, four Early levels and four Fluency levels – each consisting of 16 illustrated fiction and 16 photographic non-fiction titles, a total of 32 16-page readers." Find out more http://flyingstartbooks.com/red-rocket/

Look After Pets (Red Rocket Readers) by Pam Holden

Colourful photos of a range of animals are accompanied by simple text - M is for mouse; R is for rabbit; C is for cat and so on. The photos are excellent and will capture children's interest as they read the words and use the suggested 'teacher talk' to discuss what they can see. Flashcards on the back cover add to the learning value. In Getting Clean (Red Rocket Readers), the text follows a similar format and there are lively pictures of a range of animals using different ways to get themselves clean. These books are Pre-reading Level, key letters set C; the key letters are identified on the reverse of the front cover.

We Forgot: Level 2: Early (Red Rocket Readers: Fiction Set A) by Pam Holden

"Do you forget things sometimes? Have you ever forgotten your hat? Do you ever forget to take your lunch to school? What else do you forget?" These are the Teacher Talk suggestions from the book. The story goes through the days of the week as the family forgets something essential each day; there is plenty of repetition in the text to help with word recognition. What Could I Be?: Level 2: Early (Red Rocket Readers: Non-fiction Set B) shows, through simple text and colourful photos, a range of jobs children could do when they grow up. These books are Early Level 2.

T-rex: Level 3: Early (Red Rocket Readers: Non-fiction Set A) by Pam Holden

It's good to see a balabced blend of fiction and non-fiction in this series of books, ensuring children have a good range of different reading material. This factual book includes teacher talk for discussion ideas; a list of key words; plus a teaching plan and word count, all found on the inside cover of the book. Simple text accompanies excellent photos and reconstructions to excite children's interest; there is also a glossary. At the same level (Early Level 3) is Thirsty Baby Elephant (Red Rocket Readers). It's the story of a baby elephant who drinks so much water, the other animals fear they will be left with none.

What Makes a Bird a Bird?: Level 4: Early (Red Rocket Readers: Fiction Set B) by Pam Holden

This title encourages children to think about what makes a bird a bird, as well as being a useful early reader. The subject matter allows for plenty of repetition of words to increase children's familiarity and the various differences between birds and other creatures make good topics for discussion. Also at Level 4 is Then and Now: Level 4: Early (Red Rocket Readers: Non-fiction Set A) which shows children, through a range of photos, how life at home has changed over the years, focusing especially on things that use electricity; it's good for early history studies.

All Aboard! (Red Rocket Readers: Advanced Fluency 1; Non-Fiction Set A) by Rachel Walker

As the young reader progresses through these books, they will be enjoying more substantial reading material as their reading skills increase. This informative book starts with a good contents page which guides children to look at the various pages as the book gives an outline history of rail transport. An index and glossary add to the information value and are useful ways to show children how to use these features to get the most from non-fiction books. At the same level is Rabbit's Legend which tells how rabbit played a trick on all his animal friends - and explains why rabbits have such long ears!

Tricky Fox by Pam Holden

Tricky Fox is an adaptation of an Aesop fable that tells what happens when a wily fox serves a meal his friend the stork can't eat. Luckily, the fox sees the error of his ways and the two are finally able to enjoy a nice meal together. The delightful illustrations are a talking point in themselves and will help young readers understand the story. The 'Word Power' section at the end gives useful pointers for getting extra value from the book. Wildlife Visit tells children about some of the amazing animals which live in Canada, including the black bear, beaver and porcupine. Colour photos show these animals in their natural settings. These books are Advanced Flunecy 2 and, as with all the series, the back cover includes Guided ReadingR/R Intervention and DRA Levels so the books can be slotted in alongside other schemes.

The Amazing Kangaroo by Pam Holden

This interesting book tells chuldren all about the kangaroo - about its body, about its babies, what it eats, where it lives and more. The colour photos show the kangaroo in its natural habitat. Teachers will find the 'Teacher Talk' and the 'Teaching Plan' very useful in giving stimulating ideas to get the best from the book. Ice Fishing Fun is also Advanced Fluency 4, and is a story about Charlie and Eliza going fishing in Canada with their grandfather. Series editor and author of the Red Rocket Readers program, Pam Holden has more than 30 years specialist experience in literacy. As a Reading Recovery teacher she has worked one-to-one with hundreds of children struggling with literacy.
   

ReadZone

ReadZone commission only the best authors and illustrators and consult with reading experts. ReadZone' Reading Path series is organised in 5 levels - Level 1 Robins; Level 2 Redstarts; Level 3 Magpies; Level 4 Swifts and Level 5 Skylarks. Currently (October 2015) there are 46 books available in this graded reading scheme from very simple starter readers right up to short chapter books. You can see the whole range on the ReadZone website.

Cave Baby and the Mammoth (Readzone Reading Path 1 Robins) by Vivian French and Lisa Williams

Level 1 books are first stories in 50 words for beginning readers. In this story, a mammoth comes along - a big hairy mammoth. What will little Cave-baby do?This title fits well with the new history curriculum which includes study of the Stone Age. The illustrations are full of interest and will give children good ideas for illustrating their own work.
In The Sand Dragon: Robins (ReadZone Reading Path 1 Robins) Edward is enjoying a day at the seaside and makes a very cute dragon from sand, shells and seaweed. But where does the dragon go when the tide comes in? What happens next will make you laugh, cry, and eventually go ahhhhhhhh. It's a lovely story and a superb way to help children learn the joy of reading.
 

Alien Tale (Readzone Reading Path 2 Redstarts) by Christine Moorcraft

These Redstart books are Level 2, first rhyming stories for beginner readers. Books for early readers have moved a long, long way. Now, as epitomised in this series, they have engaging subjects, exceptional illustrations and varied characters - even aliens! Two aliens look at the earth from space. 'Let's land in Wales. It looks a nice place, says one. His name is Ace.' But Ace and his companion May are so busy eating they overshoot Wales and land in Spain - so they decide to stay and enjoy a holiday.
Tuva (Readzone Reading Path 2 Redstarts) is the true life story of a sled dog who bravely pulls the sled through ice and blizzards, protecting his master - and then, when he is old, his master cares for him. Vivid and realistic illustrations bring the story to life.

Too Small! (Readzone Reading Path 3  Magpies) by Kay Woodward

Level 3 Magpies are fun stories in 150 words for emergent readers Max is too small for almost anything, but finally he finds something he's really good at, and has lots of fun in this enjoyable story.
Terry the Turtle wants to fly, and he doesn’t like it when Polly the Chimp laughs at him! But when a parrot helps,things start to look good for Terry.Or do they? Find out what happens in Terry the Flying Turtle (Readzone Reading Path 3 Magpies) There are plenty more stories at the same level, ensuring there are titles that will appeal to all children and giving them plenty to choose from before moving on to the next level.

The King of Kites (Readzone Reading Path 4 Swifts) by Judith Heneghan

Swifts are stories in 500 words to build confidence (it's quite a jump from Magpies, so make sure your child has read a good number of books at the earlier level). When Anil hears about a big wedding in the village,he decides to make twelve kites to fly in honour of the bride. But Anil’s mother is making clothes for the special day and she needs Anil’s help,.. luckily, friendship comes to the rescue and all is well in this multi-cultural story; the vivid colours of the illustrations are very effective.
Hoppy Ever After (Readzone Reading Path 4 Swifts) is about Froggy, a very hoppy frog. He's so hoppy he wants to share the feeling with the whole wide world. But what's this? No-one else wants to be hoppy? Poor Froggy! Until, that is, he meets one special person... and Froggy and his new friend live happily ever after in this joyful story.

Carving the Sea Path (ReadZone Reading Path 5 Skylarks) by Katherine White

Skylarks are first chapter books for more confident readers. When Samuel first moves to the Artic, he is rude and unfriendly. But Irniq gives him a chance, and the boys become friends. Then, as the summer comes to an end,the boys quarrel and drift apart... but there's a very happy ending for the two friends, and another very special creature.
London's Burning (ReadZone Reading Path 5 Skylarks) is very topical for 2016, being the 350 year anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Written in narrative form, it's the story of the fire seen through the eyes of young John. Well told, the story really gets the reader involved and it's good to see fact woven into an engaging story.

Maverick Early Readers

"Learning to read is such a key point in a child’s growth and the transition from being a listener to being a reader is not an easy one.  We hope that by offering our fun picture books, book banded as early readers, we can bring the fun of the bedtime story to the classroom. Our early readers have been adapted from the original picture books so that children can make the essential transition from listener to reader. For each book, the author and an educational specialist have worked together to make the text accessible to the given readership level. All text is on white, in a clear, easy to read typeface. The books also feature a quiz at the back, to see whether the reader has read and understood the story."

The Four Little Pigs (Early Reader Turquoise Band) by Alice Hemming

Maverick Books produce some of the best picture books around, so it's brilliant to see these special editions produced for beginner readers. FOUR little pigs? Surely not! This is a clever and humorous twist on the old favourite. Tom is staying with his granny - but she's no ordinary granny, she is a witch. So when Tom says that the Three Little Pigs story is boring, Granny uses a spell to send him right into the story. Is Tom clever enough to avoid being eaten by the big bad wolf? Children will love to recognise the familiar elements whilst enjoying the quirky take on the story which gives it a whole new appeal. Book banding is carried out to industry standard and the text is edited by a leading educational consultant to give us a book perfect for Turquoise Band readers.As with all their books reviewed here, Maverick have produced Learning Resource Packs which are free to download.

I Wish I'd Been Born a Unicorn (Early Reader Green Band) by Rachel Lyon

Mucky lived up to his name and nobody wanted to be friends with the grubby brown horse. So he decides he would like to be a unicorn, and with a little help from his friends, his dream comes true... until the rain comes! Then, Mucky finds out what really matters - his friends. A charming story, with expressively illustrated characters to capture the imagination - and an important message about being true to yourself. The gorgeous illustrations are full of clues to help children if they get stuck on tricky words. All the books in the series have appealing colour illustrations and layout, to encourage children to really enjoy reading.

Gold Star for George (Early Reader Orange Band) by Alice Hemming

George the Giraffe is back in the second book in the George the Giraffe & Friends series; this time the message is how helping others brings about the greatest reward. The Heavenly Hippos Wildlife Park is awarding gold stars to the animals and George the Giraffe has the perfect spot on his fence for one. Helpful George helps the other animals but sadly, doesn't get a gold star - until he gets a very special surprise. A delightful story with some wonderfully drawn characters - and a quite adorable hero. As with all the Maverick Early Readers, the original story has been carefully edited to suit the reading band, whilst still keeping the enjoyment of the story.

Pirates Don't Drive Diggers (Early Reader Orange Band) by Alex English

If you are digger-mad, then the life of a pirate just isn't for you! But Dad insists and Brad is sent off to sail the seas with Captain Blood. Poor Brad just isn't cut out for life at sea - can he convince the fearsome captain of this? When he is sent off to find treasure it seems his dreams might just come true... Great fun, with lively illustrations to engage the reader throughout. As with all the books in the series, there is a quiz at the end to discuss with children and see whether they have understood the story.

Grumpy King Colin (Early Reader Turquoise Band) by Phil Allcock

What a superb character! King Colin can do just what he likes... because he's king. Every toddler will revel in this story of an adult who does all the things children are told not to - he doesn't wash his hands, he wears dirty clothes, he has a tantrum... but then he meets his nemesis! It's Great Queen Connie and King Colin has to do as he's told - because she's his mum! A hilarious story which children will adore - when they're naughty, share this to defuse the situation! Great story telling, carefully chosen suitable language and superb illustrations - learning to read has never been such fun!

The Black and White Club by Alice Hemming

The penguins of the Heavenly Hippo Wildlife Park have set up a club but only the black and white animals are invited. Poor George the Giraffe is feeling very left out so he takes matters into his own hands with delightful consequences. Lots of lovely animals feature in this book and there's lots to talk about in the illustrations, which are by Kimberley Scott. I love Maverick's brilliant picture books and so I was thrilled when they asked me to review the books in their new venture. These Early Readers have been adapted from their existing picture books, carefully edited by each author in conjunction with Catherine Baker, an educational specialist. This ensures the books fit into the industry standard book bands; the books reviewed here are banded Green, Orange and Turquoise - the spines are coloured accordingly and there is a coloured star on the cover; this all helps to make teachers' lives easier.

A Scarf and a Half by Amanda Brandon

Granny Mutton loves to knit - but she really doesn't know when to stop! Little Lionel is not at all impressed with his present - he wanted something to make him laugh. Luckily Lionel’s friends are blessed with plenty of imagination and they find lots of fun things they can enjoy with a scarf and a half! The brightly coloured scarf makes a lovely focus for the bright and amusing illustrations in this charming story about inventiveness and friendship. The high quality storytelling coupled with the excellent illustrations in these books makes them really appealing - a great incentive to encourage children to persevere with their reading.

Yuck Said the Yak by Alex English 

Alfie does not seem surprised when a Yak appears at his house on a bicycle but when the Yak refuses to eat any of the treats Alfie offers, he does get very puzzled. Luckily, the problem sorts itself out in the end, much to Alfie's surprise. Excellent storytelling makes this is a good story to use with a group of children as well as for early reading one-to-one. The humorous approach encourages children to look at things from a different point of view. The series is made even more outstanding by the excellent teaching packs thay have been created to accompany each book. The pack for this book includes a suggested lesson plan for readingYuck! said the Yak; a detailed list of the language and linguistic features included in the text; an activity sheet for children to enjoy after readingthe book and a colouring in sheet.The packs are free to download from the Maverick Books website.

Preposterous Rhinoceros by Tracy Gunaratnam

It's bedtime and the animals are waiting (all dressed ready for bed!) for their bedtime story - but King Lion has lost his voice. Never mind - Preposterous Rhinocerous will step into the breach - trouble is, he doesn't know how to read. Aided by his friends, he tries all sorts of hilarious ideas but it's only when Shy Salamander comes on the scene and helps him learn to read, that all turns out well. This humorous story is just perfect to share with a child who is learning to read as it highlights the importance of reading. The adaptation from the original is well done and none of the story is lost.
 

Hocus Pocus Diplodocus: The World's First Ever Magician by Steve Howson

Hocus Pocus is no ordinary dinosaur - he is the world's first-ever magician! Fame spreads, even in the prehistoric world, and soon dinosaurs are coming from all over the swamp to see his magic. But things don't always go quite to plan in this hilarious story... and now we know why there are no dinosaurs any more! Kate Daubney's lively illustrations are full of glorious colour and the dinosaurs have the most delightfully expressive faces. Each book has a short quiz at the end - as well as checking children's understanding, these are great to use as prompts for further discussion. This is a fabulous start to the new venture - I am really looking forward to seeing what is to follow.

Big Cat

 What is Collins Big Cat? The Collins website answers the question.
  • Over 600 books for 3-11 year olds.
  • An equal mix of fiction and non-fiction readers.
  • Topical non-fiction to interest children in today’s world and support the science, geography and history curriculum.
  • The best authors and illustrators known for creating beautiful books and engaging stories, loved by children
  • Poetry, plays, traditional tales and literary classics to help deliver the 2014 curriculum
  • Support your struggling readers with Progress and challenge top readers with Pearl.
  • Put the fun back into phonics with high quality readers and our lively phonics programme.
  • Get children really thinking with comprehension activities included in every book.
  • Readers are matched to Reading Recovery and quizzed for Accelerated Reader.
Big Cat Reading Lions help you to support your child’s reading development at home. Each book in the series has been created by leading children’s authors and illustrators, and carefully levelled by educational experts, meaning you can enjoy reading with your child at every stage in their reading journey. The Reading Lions series contains six clear levels from First Reading to Independent Reading, allowing you to select the right books for your child. It works alongside any reading scheme used by your child’s school and each book features talking points to extend your child’s understanding.
 

Level 1: First Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

First Reading contains 6 phonic readers supporting how children learn to read at school. The 3 fiction and 3 non-fiction books will help your child learn to decode simple, short sentences and practice limited, specific phonemes, with very few tricky words. Includes Got It by Charlotte Guillain; Pet Cat, Big Cat by Alison Hawes; Pond Food by John Townsend; Sam and the Nut by Sheryl Webster; Ant and Snail by Paul Shipton; We Are Not Fond of Rat Emma Chichester Clark. The guide age for this set is 4 to 5; as always, do remember that all children learn at different speeds, so always be guided by your child's ability and encourage them to work at their own pace; take advice from their teacher too.

Level 2: Practice Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

Building on the previous pack in a progressive and confidence-building sequence, the books include longer sentences with new phonemes, and direct speech with more tricky words. Includes ; The Sun and the Moon by Paul Shipton; The Rainforest at Night by Nic Bishop; Gorillas by Teresa Heapy; The Singing Beetle by Linda Strachan; Zog and Zebra by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham and A Day Out by Petr Horacek. Guide age 5-6. I well remember, and I am sure many others do, reading very dull readers with my children; these books are a far cry from that. To take the example of The Rainforest at Night - the book is packed with stunning photography and is highly informative. 'Getting Creative' extension activities are full of inspiration for parents. These aren't just school readers branded for home use - great efforts have been made to ensure they are packed with hep for parents.

Level 3: Supported Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

The next step in helping your child learn to read with adult support, these books include longer, less illustrated texts, with paragraphs, literary language and distinctive characterisation. The set includes: What’s that Building? by Richard Platt; Unusual Traditions by John McIlwain; How to be a Knight by Scoular Anderson; Chewy Hughie by Jane Clarke; Twinkle, Twinkle Firefly by John Agard & Grace Nichols and Mountain Mona by Vivian French. Guide age 6-7. Each book has a helpful introduction which aids parents to get the best out of the book and explains the new words that will be encountered; phonics are explained too. It's all ideal for parents who want to do their best for their children but aren't quite sure where to start and find the range of books in the bookshop very confusing.

Level 4: Confident Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

By this stage, children should be able to read confidently to an adult. This set moves learning to read on with texts with complex sentences including subordinate clauses and figurative language. The books included are Your Senses by Sally Morgan; Cloud Forest by Nic Bishop; How to be a Viking by Scoular Anderson; Class Six and the Very Big Rabbit by Martin Waddell; Oliver by Hilary McKay and The House in the Forest by Janet Foxley. Guide age 6-7. The range of books in each set is well-balanced and the subjects for the non-fiction are appealing to children. The texts are good and the engagingly presented facts will be of interest to children.

Level 5: Independent Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

Continue to help your child learn to read independently with these books which contain longer texts, with more complex themes and characterisation. The titles are How to be a Roman by Scoular Anderson; Extreme Sports by Adrian Bradbury; My Olympic Story by Kwane N. Acheampong; The Gargling Gorilla by Margaret Mahy; Brother Aelred’s Feet by Gillian Cross and Great Expectations by Hilary McKay. Just look at the authors' names - Collins have made sure all the books are written by top-class authors and it's impressive to see how this continues throughout the series. Guide age 8-9.

Level 6: Fluent Reading (Collins Big Cat Reading Lions)

This final set in the series will help your child learn to read freely and without difficulty, complex chapter books and non-fiction texts. The set contains 6 books: The Traveller’s Guide to the Solar System by Giles Sparrow; Michael Rosen: All About Me by Michael Rosen; My Journey across the Indian Ocean by James Adair; The Hedgehog Mystery by Ally Kennen; I Have a Dream by Levi David Addai and Project Bright Spark by Annabel Pitcher. Guide age 9-11. This progressive reading scheme is excellent for parents to use as it guides them right through helping their child from early to confident reading. The balance between fiction and non-fiction in this series is a really excellent feature; we know many children prefer to read non-fiction and the quality of these books is exceptional, with descriptive text and superb photography.

Learning to read

Kingfisher Readers:Tyrannosaurus! (Level 1: Beginning to Read) by Thea Feldman

Dinosaurs fascinate children, and none more so than the mighty T-rex. Now beginner readers can have the satisfaction of reading about this fearsome creature for themselves. The informative text is written in conjunction with literacy experts, ensuring it is suitable for new readers with simple sentences and low total word count. The attractive and clear layout is coupled with superb illustrations that add both to the visual appeal and the information value. There is a glossary to help understanding and to increase vocabulary. A super book to encourage reading.

Kingfisher Readers: Brilliant Birds (Level 1: Beginning to Read) by Thea Feldman

This really attractive reading series will really encourage young readers with its high-interest topics and excellent design. Developed in consultation with literacy experts, this five-level graded reading series will guide young readers as they build confidence and fluency in their literacy skills and progress towards reading alone. Brilliant Birds uses simple language to introduce a wide variety of birds from different habitats, from the tallest and the smallest birds to those that cannot fly and some that can swim. It includes facts about beaks, feathers and flying, and explains how a baby bird starts life inside its egg, hatches and finally flies from its nest. The stunning photography is a real feature of this book and it's a valuable first non-fiction title.

Kingfisher Readers: Chimpanzees (Level 2 Beginning to Read Alone) by Claire Llewellyn

Chimpanzees introduces children who are beginning to read alone to these wonderful primates. It includes facts about habitat, families, and behaviour. Children can discover how baby chimps grow up, learn to use tools, and how similar they are to us. Throughout, the book is beautifully presented, using green borders and shading to give the pages real appeal; it's a great way to entice children into reading. The text is simple but informative and the reference value of the book is enhanced by the inclusion of a glossary. Find out more about Kingfisher Readers here.  There's a Level Key which will help you decide which books are right for your child.

Kingfisher Readers: Pirates (Level 4: Reading Alone) by Philip Steele

Pirates - a topic that will really engage children's interest and perfect for those who prefer non-fiction. Again, it's a beautifully illustrated book and the inclusion of a comprehensive glossary and index makes it an excellent early reference book. "Each book is carefully designed with language that is clear and precise, exciting artwork and photos that really leap off the page, and an easy-to-follow layout with clear links between text and images. The series has five levels, with clear progression between each one – offering increasing challenges for young learners as they develop as readers, explore their favourite topics and progress towards reading alone." It's an impressive series - I love the way the design is so attractive; an excellent way to make learning to read highly enjoyable.

Superbot and the Terrible Toy Destroyer (DFBees) by Nick Ward

Superbot lives with his inventor, Mrs Brightspark, at the top of a skyscraper - the perfect lookout point to spot trouble and zoom off to the rescue. So when Bruto the terrible toy destroyer goes on the warpath stealing children’s toys, it’s Superbot to the rescue! Children will love the action-packed story and the bright pictures which will really encourage their transition to chapter books from picture books. DFBees are a series for young readers fresh from reading schemes – with exciting plots and wonderful illustrations to encourage and inspire even the most reluctant readers!

Space (Early Reader Non-Fiction) by Timothy Knapman

I love to see non-fiction books for early readers and this series from Orion fits the bill prefectly. We know many children prefer non-fiction, and this book is also highly informative for pupils studying space. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; a green Early Reader is a first fact book. There is much to see and do in space - ride in a space ship to visit stars, galaxies and planets in this colourful and well-explained book, with full colour illustrations from Kelly Canby on every page.

Can Dom Tip Tom? (Reading Stars) by Stephen Rickard

"Reading Stars is our big new reading programme for children. It begins with the early stages of reading and progresses all the way through primary. Best known for our ability to develop inspiring books for reluctant readers, the team at Ransom are now bringing our creative skills to early years literacy. We will be giving a modern approach, firmly grounded in tried and tested techniques. Can Dom Tip Tom is Phonics Level 1 and each page has a short sentence corresponding to Level 2 of Letters and Sounds; playful pictures encurage children to read the story and help with understanding. The series progresses through the Levels, giving a structured appraoch. How Will You Get There? (Reading Stars) is Phonics Level 4, corresponding to Letters and Sounds Phase 5; the non-fiction approach will appeal to many and the book has a nice humorous touch at the end.

The Best Present Ever (Reading Stars) by Stephen Rickard

This Blue Band early reader is a story about a special present and being inventive, with plenty of illustrations to accompany the well-chosen text. Colours (Reading Stars) is an Orange Band book and represents the informative non-fiction books - this one is especially striking for the quality of its colour photos. "Launched in 2014, this fantastic new series provides a modern, structured range of beautifully illustrated fiction and non-fiction titles that all children will find engaging and enjoyable to read. The series starts with simple phonics-based texts and progresses through multiple levels to a broad range of more complex stories, text types and topics." The balanced mix of fiction and non-fiction is an excellent aspect of the range and ensures there are books to suit all readers. Find out more on the Ransom Publishing website.

Kingfisher Readers: Brilliant Birds (Level 1: Beginning to Read) by Thea Feldman

Brilliant Birds is a topic which gives plenty of opportunity for stunning photos and this title makes the most of that. It introduces a wide variety of birds from different habitats, from the tallest to the smallest birds and even those who cannot fly and some that can swim. The book is full of facts about beaks, feathers and flying, and explains how a baby bird starts life inside its egg, hatches and finally flies from its nest. Clear layout, carefully selected text and a clear font combine to make an attractive and useful book. Kingfisher Readers, a 5-level graded reading scheme, have been developed with literacy experts to help children progress to independent reading. See www.kingfisherreaders.com for series information and free audiobooks.

Kingfisher Readers: African Savannah (Level 2: Beginning to Read Alone) Claire Llewellyn

For children beginning to read alone, African Savannah introduces the grasslands of Africa and the amazing variety of animals that live there. From plant-eating elephants and zebras to meat-eating big cats and vultures, this book brings to life this fascinating habitat, its people and its wildlife through superb photos and carefully selected text. Labelled diagrams are introduced and this gives children experience of another way to present information. It's excellent to see quality non-fiction books made available to early readers, fulfilling a dual function of assisting learning to read with discovery of facts about our world.

Kingfisher Readers: Astronauts (Level 3: Reading Alone with Some Help) Hannah Wilson

Astronaut introduces children to the life of a space astronaut, including the suits they wear, the food they eat in the International Space Station and the way they train for their space missions. It looks at some famous astronauts in the history of space exploration, including the first man in space and the first man to walk on the Moon. We know that many readers respond better to non-fiction books so this series really fills a gap and will be warmly welcomed by teachers; the topics are carefully chosen to appeal to children. It's not always easy to find non-fiction written at the right level for young readers, so this series which includes a glossary in each book, plus an index in this title, is good to introduce and explain early reference skills.

Famous Five Colour Reads: When Timmy Chased the Cat by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton wrote a series of short stories based on her much-loved characters - these were originally published in magazines and then as a collection of stories. This is the first time this story has appeared as a book on its own and it is the perfect way to introduce younger children to the delights of this author and her stories. The Famous Five are on their way to the cinema when Timmy spots a cat and tears after it, taking the gang on a detour to an empty house. But is it really empty? Some strange sounds suggest otherwise ... and the Famous Five can never miss the chance for an investigation! Lively illustrations are perfect for today's readers and give a contemporary feel to the stories.

Horrid Henry's Royal Riot (Horrid Henry Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Another treat for Horrid henry fans with this bumper collection of early readers. There are four stories to enjoy: Horrid Henry's Thank You Letter, Horrid Henry's Sports Day, Horrid Henry Meets The Queen And Moody Margaret's School. Horrid Henry is just the sort of boy that children love to read about - he's naughty, rude and mischevious and always in trouble, in contrast to his good sister Margaret and his brother Perfect Peter. His appeal is immense - this book celebrates 20 years and 20 million books sold.

Monstar Makes a Wish (Red Early Reader) by Steve Cole

She's green. She's fluffy. She's... MONSTAR and she's the best pet in the world. When Monstar digs a tunnel to a Top Secret workshop, she finds a magic lamp and now all her wishes can come true... but we know that's not always a good thing! THis charming story is enlivened by entertaining pictures from Pete Williamson. Red Early Readers follow on from Blue Early Readers and are the next step on your child's reading journey.

The Boy Who Made Things Up (Early Reader) by Margaret Mahy

Michael loves making things up so a walk with his dad turns into something really exciting! They finds themselves by the sea, swimming to an island... a wonderful imaginative adventure which has his Dad absolutely amazed. A super story. With their carefully selected text, excellent stories and good use of illustrations, plus high quality production, Early Readers are ideal to encourage children to enjoy and love reading.

Horrid Henry's Haunted House (Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Poor Henry! His mean, horrible parents are forcing him to stay overnight at his slimy cousin Stuck-up Steve's haunted house. The colour drawings by Tony Ross are as superb as ever, and really catch the feel of the characters. It's great to introduce young readers to the star of a popular series of books, as they will be encouraged to carry on reading the stories.

The Three Little Magicians (Early Reader) by Georgie Adams

The Three Little Magicians, Miranda, Maisy and Max have a very special book of magic tricks to win the Best Magic Show and help their friend Mr Marzipan defeat the evil Zigzaggic to engage young readers. This is a fun lively story with a touch of ma Orion's Early Readers are an excellent way to draw children into reading - they combine excellent story telling from top authors with top notch illustrations, all presented on clear white paper and encased in colourful covers.

The Witch Dog (Early Reader) by Margaret Mahy

The Witch Dance is a special party and every witch brings a cloak, a hat and a cat - except for Witch Rose, who is allergic to cats! Luckily for her, Nightshade, the perfect Witch Dog is on hand to help. But can Witch Rose and Nightshade convince the other witches that a Witch Dog really can be as good as any cat? This and the two titles above are Red Early Readers which follow on from Blue Early Readers and are ideal for children reading on their own. Introducing children to top class authors as soon as they start reading independently is a great way to engender a love for reading.

Time to Read: The Dragon Snatcher by M. P. Robertson

Full of excitement, this is the story of George, his dragon and a dragon egg who stand in the way of an evil wizard who wants to get rid of the dragons forever. It is the sequel to Time to Read: The Egg and has the same characters - a good way to keep children engaged. The Time to Read series from Frances Lincoln is perfect for early readers; the books are attractive to look at with colourful covers and super illustrations - the illustrations are plentiful and well sized, to help the transition from picture books, as well as helping with understanding of the story.

Time to Read: The Great Dragon Rescue by M. P. Robertson

This is the third story starring George and his dragon and once again, they are off on an exciting adventure. It's the high quality illustrations which really make these books stand out - they are full of detail and an excellent way to promote discussion. On the back cover of each book is a box containing all the new words learnt through the story; this is excellent for both parents and teachers and can be used effectively to help spelling and recognition. Also in the series is Time to Read: Big Foot - a touching tale about an unusual and heartwarming friendship.

Poppy the Pirate Dog and the Treasure Keeper (Early Reader) by Liz Kessler

It's Mum's birthday and Poppy and her family are putting on a pirate show. It's Poppy's job to be the treasure keeper. The only trouble is, she isn't very good at it... What I really love about this story is the fact that so much of it is told through the pictures so children can enjoy these and work out what is happening for themselves. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; this is a red Early Reader, the next step after blue on children's reading journey.

Mr Monkey and the Magic Tricks (Early Reader) by Linda Chapman

Mr Monkey is a magic monkey who belongs to Class 2. Meet Mr Monkey, who belongs to Class Two. Once a week one of the children has to take him home and write a diary about their time with him. It's Ben's turn this week and Ben is really surprised when Mr Monkey talks to him and offers to help his problem with Ian in Class 5. It's a hilarious story about overcoming a bully with a bit of magic. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; this is a red Early Reader, the next step after blue on children's reading journey.

Micky's Magic Pencil (Early Reader) by Vivian French

Mickey's gran has sent him a magical pencil. It's red and yellow and blue and green, and Mickey can't wait to use it. But there always seems to be someone who needs the help of its magic powers more than Mickey does... All the Early Readers stories are lively and fun, with stories to which children can relate, yet, as with this one, often with an element of magic or mystery to capture the attention. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; this is a red Early Reader, the next step after blue on children's reading journey.

Miranda the Castaway (Blue Early Reader) by James Mayhew

Miranda is on a desert island - all by herself! Luckily she is a resourceful little girl and she manages to find food and water, builds herself a house and even grows plants. Sadly, the time came to leave the island, and she managed to do that too. A delightful story about a very clever little girl which will stiumlate the imagination. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together.

The Pirates' Picnic (Blue Early Reader) by Angela McAllister

This is a slightly longer book with chapters, so provides a satisfying read - a good step on from the title above. Jim the cabin boy decides that the pirates of the bad ship Scullywag need cheering up, so he suggests that they should go on a picnic. But things don't go to plan in this entertaining story which is full of humour.

Buster's Big Surprise (Little Red Robin) by Kaye Umansky

In this lively and entertaining story, Buster Gutt is the biggest, baddest pirate who ever sailed the seven seas ... and Admiral Goldglove is hot on the trail! Buster's crew are starving. Weevils gobbled their biscuits - they need nosh now! Luckily Allspice island is dead ahead - but there's a big surprise waiting for the hungry horde! Little Red Robin stories are especially produced for young readers to share with an adult; with great story telling, they are an excellent introduction to the concept of chapter books especially as the high proportion of picture to text eases the transition from picture books.

Time to Read: Flabby Tabby by Penny McKinlay

With colourful and attractive books like this, how can learning to read be anything but fun? Each page is about three quarters illustration, with a few lines of text, making the transition from picture books almost seamless. All is well in Tabby's comfortable life until Fit Kit arrives with his ideas for a healthy lifestyle. It's time for Flabby Tabby to get fit; an entertaining story which perhaps has a message for us all...

Time to Read: Max and the Lost Note by Graham Marsh

Cool cat Max is one talented cat - he plays the piano. One day, he loses a note so he rides his scooter downtown to see if anyone's seen the note. It's an enjoyable story and adults will enjoy sharing this with young readers - always a benefit! "Created in consultation with a literary specialist, these editions contain the complete original stories, designed to support children who are gaining confidence in reading. With engaging illustrations, entertaining stories and new words to learn, these books are perfect for young readers to read on their own."

Time to Read: Bumposaurus by Penny McKinlay

I love the stories in this series - they are perfectly geared toward beginner readers but the stories are lively and very enjoyable - a real incentive to learn to read. This story is about a baby dinosaur can't see very well and bumps into everything as well as making a few more serious (but amusing) mistakes. But when he meets his grandma who wears glasses the problem is solved. Amusingly yet sensitively told, this is perfect for young children who have the same problem and may feel embarrassed.

Time to Read: Miss Fox by Simon Puttock

Is the new teacher Miss Fox who she seems? When she takes the class out on a long, lonely nature ramble, Lily is the only one who sees through Miss Fox's dazzling smile to the dark and sinister intentions beneath. And a good think she does too - but there's a surprising twist in the tale. Another very enjoyable story with delightful illustrations that add greatly to the story. A super early reading series.

Monstar, the Superhero (Early Reader) by Steve Cole

Monstar is Jen and Jon's pet and she is sure that she can be a superhero who will help the town with all its problems. She's a lovely character who means well but cause chaos everywhere she goes. The book has amusing full colour artwork on every page by award-winning illustrator Pete Wiliamson. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; this is a Red Early Reader - the next step on a child's reading journey. Early Readers all feature great stories plus lively illustrations; their attractive look and feel makes them ideal to encourage young readers to pick up the books and learn to enjoy reading.

Algy's Amazing Adventures in Space (Early Reader) by Kaye Umansky

Algy has an amazing garden shed - behind a loose plank he finds a world of amazing adventures. With his best friend Cherry and her little brother Brad, Algy finds himself in space! Cherry and Brad are really excited, but Algy's not so sure. Space seems very dangerous - and BIG. Will he enjoy his latest adventure or not? Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books; with their high proportion of picture to text, they are ideal for that move from picture books to chapter books. This is a Red Early Reader - the next step on a child's reading journey

Richard Scarry's Readers (Level 1): Snow Dance (Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouse) by Erica Farber

Huckle has a shiny new red sled but there's no snow. After many funny attempts to find a solution to his problem, Huckle and his pals decide to do a 'snow dance'. And guess what? It works! This Level One story will delight beginning readers even as it teaches them to sound out simple words. The fun-packed illustrations are full of interest and can be used to encourage further discussion. Published by Sterling April 2014, ISBN 978-1402798962

Algy's Amazing Adventures at Sea (Early Reader) by Kaye Umansky

Orion Books use top class authors for the books in their Early Readers series so children start their reading journey with the very best stories available. There are lots of things Algy doesn't like - bright colours, birds, but especially the sea. So when Algy, his friend Cherry and her little brother Brad discover that the shed at the bottom of the garden is taking them on an ocean adventure, he is not happy - but that soon changes! A gently humorous story, with plenty of bright illustrations to help understanding. This is a red Early Reader, the next step on a child's reading journey.

Tree Fu Tom: Tree Fu Team(Tree Fu Tom Colour First Reader)

Reading about popular TV characters is a great way to encourage beginning readers - especially when they are bright colourful stories. Tom leads the team on a quest for a mysterious Squizzle that will help them play perfectly in the tournament. Tom will need Big World magic help to save the day. The book includes bonus activities that can be downloaded via a special QR code inside the book - a make-your-own Holopax and Sapstone Belt, a reward chart, a make-your-own Enchanted Squizzle and questions to help discussion about the story after reading. Plenty here to encourage readers and show them that books are fun.

Famous Five Colour Reads: Five and a Half-Term Adventure by Enid Blyton

As well as her Famous Five novels, Enid Blyton wrote several short stories about the five. Aficionados will be very pleased to see these have now been issued as stand-alone books for young readers. In this story Timmy the dog, who has a key role as ever, sniffs out an adventure when he spots some suspicious-looking passengers on a train. He is very interested in one of them, but what has he spotted? Can the Famous Five solve this mystery? Well, we (the adults at least) all know the answer to that one! The original texts are untouched but have been split into chapters to make the books accessible for newly confident readers. These books will have great appeal for young readers, who will thoroughly enjoy the exciting adventures which are packaged in such an attractive way.

Famous Five Colour Reads: George's Hair Is Too Long by Enid Blyton

Another exciting adventure for the Famous Five which begins with a pair of scissors... George manages to get mixed up with some burglars but Julian, Dick and Anne are too busy eating ice cream to realise that he is in trouble! Will they realise in time? Fully illustrated throughout with highly entertaining cartoon-style drawings, the books bring a modern twist to the long-time favourite group of children - not to forget Timmy the dog, of course. Interestingly, in 2008 Enid Blyton was voted the best-loved author in the Costa Book Awards. Her books have remained enduringly popular and how super (!) to introduce younger children to her books so that they can go on to enjoy the whole range.

Lottie and Dottie Sow Carrots (Early Reader) by Claire Burgess

Lottie and Dottie love growing things and when they take a trip to Mr McWelly's Garden Centre they make the amazing discovery that carrots taste much better when they grow them themselves... It's an enjoyable story with very amusing illustrations which will capture children's interest. Hopefully, the story wiil encourage children to find out how things grow and to try for themselves. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books - this is a Blue Early Reader, perfect for sharing and reading together.

Monstar Finds a Home (Early Reader) by Steve Cole

She's green and fluffy and she loves porridge. What is she? She's... MONSTAR. Jon and Jen are very excited to meet Monstar as they have always wanted a pet for ages - but Monstar is more than they had bargained for! A light-hearted and enjoyable story with lively illustrations which help tell the story and aid understanding as well as increasing enjoyment. This is a Red Early Reader, the next step up from Blue on your child's reading journey.

Chocolate Porridge (Early Reader) by Margaret Mahy

Timothy's sisters think that boys are all rubbish at cooking - a common perception! Timothy sets out to prove them wrong - by making some rather unusual chocolate porridge. But who is going to eat it? An amusing story with charming illustrations depicting a happy family. Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books - this is a Blue Early Reader, perfect for sharing and reading together.

Mr Monkey and the Birthday Party (Early Reader) by Linda Chapman

Mr Monkey the toy monkey belongs to Class 2 and he seems to have been there always. Once a week one of the children has to take him home and write a diary about their time with him. When it's Anya's turn, she finds out he is very special. The lively illustrations mirror the story and will be a great help to children in understanding the storyline. This is a Red Early Reader, the next step up from Blue on your child's reading journey.

The Frankenstein Teacher (Colour First Readers) by Tony Bradman

The children are waiting for their new teacher when they hear someone with very heavy feet  heading straight for the classroom... and who comes in but The Frankenstein Teacher!  All he wants to do is teach kids but they laughed and called him ugly so he decides something must change - him. But he can't get it right until the dreadful day when the classroon hamster meets with an accident... It just shows you shouldn't judge by appearances. "Colour First Readers are perfect for new readers and include notes by reading specialist Prue Goodwin, honorary fellow of the University of Reading."

Great Save! (Colour First Readers) by Rob Childs

The school is under threat of closure when a new boy turns up - and his father turns out to be someone rather special. Can a fives match help? The match does not turn out quite how they hoped but the Red Fox has another idea...Don't be put off by the football theme - it's as much a story for girls as boys. I like the fact that all the books in this series are written by well-known and popular children's authors. This means that not only are children guaranteed a great story but they will also be encouraged to look for more of the author's books.

Dogbird (Colour First Readers) by Paul Stewart

A budgie seems the perfect pet for Alice - but not this budgie! This budgie barks all day and all night - and the dogs think he is another playmate. Dogbird is goimg to have to go - but who will have him? Keen-eyed children will spot the solution as they read through the story. Each book in the series has plenty of activities relating to the book which are an excellent prompt for parents or teachers wanting to increase the value and enjoyment of these books.

The Chocolate Monster (Colour First Readers) by Jan Page

Lucy is ALWAYS losing things, and her mum gets mad at her. But then Lucy finds out where they go - there's a monster under her bed. She bribes him with chocolate and he goes away - only to pop up elsewhere! An amusing story to entertain children. Dog On A Broomstick (Colour First Readers) is another funny story from the same author - when the cat goes missing, can the dog take his place?

 Peas In A Pod (Colour First Readers) by Adèle Geras

Almost all little girls dream of being bridesmaids and when Stella-across-the-road is getting married Jo and Lily are sure they will be asked to be Stella's bridesmaids. But things don't turn out at all as they expect although they do get to be part of the wedding. A delightful story about sisters and being different yet the same. All the books in the series benefit from bright attractive covers to arouse interest.

Shredder (Colour First Readers) by Jonathan Kebbe

Oh dear, Shredder the class gerbil is in trouble - he has shredded all the children's money and now Mr Blister, the grumpy head teacher, wants to get rid of him. A hilarious story, told in the words of Shreddder himself. The text is well laid out, with plenty of white space so young readers are not overwhelmed and all the books in the series feature attractive and appropriate illustrations.

Super-Saver Mouse (Colour First Readers) by Sandi Toksvig

Boris is one of the many mice who live in the London Underground. His best friend is Heavy Duty, the station cleaner. One morning Boris discovers that Heavy Duty has had an accident. Bories has to think fast. He has seen trains come and go all his life but never before has he had to stop one! Will he succeed? In The Troublesome Tooth Fairy (Colour First Readers) we enjoy a delightful story about a trainee tooth fairy who is trying very hard to get things right... it's a lovely story and will really show children the pleasure of reading.

Snow Dog (Colour First Readers) by Malorie Blackman

This is a heart-warming tale about a little boy who wnats a dog and a loving Grandad who makes him a very special one. Space Race is another story by Malorie Blackman, an acclaimed children's author and Children's Laureate. These are all excellent stories, well told in language carefully chosen for new readers and they are a superb way to generate enthusiasm for reading and to instill a lifelong love of books.

Jack and the Beanstalk (Early Reader) by Maggie Moore

We all know the story - Jack swaps his cow for some magic beans and his life is transformed. This is a well illustrated retelling of this favourite traditional story and it includes information about the story and a role play exercise which encourages children to imagine they are part of the story. It is one in the Must Know Stories which includes favourite tales, celebrating the diversity of our literary heritage. Level 1 stories are told in under 500 words, for children to read independently.

Leapfrog: Bill's Silly Hat by Susan Gates

Bill's gran has knitted him a new hat but he hates it. It makes him look like a bumble bee - even the bees think so! - and everyone is laughing at him. But he doesn't want to upset Gran, so how can he get rid of it? Luckily, someone else likes it... The Leapfrog series is perfect for children who are reading on their own, with fun stories of no more than 200 words.

The Little Nut Tree (Blue Early Reader) by Sally Gardner

The familiarity of the nursery rhyme will give children a head start when they start to read this book. The story builds on that familiarity to make a most enjoyable story. The little girl is given a very special nut tree for her birthday and even a princess wahts to see it - and have it. Sally Gardner's illustrations Blue Early Readers are the first step away from picture books are perfect for child and adult to share.

The Dragon's Dentist (Blue Early Reader) by John McLay

Another new book in this attractive series which really does make learning to read a pleasure. Harry wishes he was a knight. All his family are. So, one morning, as he sits cleaning the shields after a very muddy battle, he decides to do a great deed. He decides to capture Eric the Dragon. A hilarious new Early Reader story about a knight, a dragon and a horse called Oats. Martin Brown's comical illustrations will have children chuckling and they are also a useful aid to decoding unfamiliar words as they match the story so well.. n.Somewhat longer than The Little Nut Tree, this is a satisfying read to share.

Pirate Attack! (DK Readers: Level 1) by Deborah Lock

Children love books about pirates so this is a great way to encourage reading. Captain Blackbeard and his crew are sailing the high seas and this book has the traditional treasure, parrots, sea shanties and Jolly Roger. Much more than just a story, your child will find a recipe, pirate rules and more, all in the form of a diary. Full of illustrations and lively speech bubbles this is a really fun book which children will love. The Guide for Parents is full of useful tips too.

Peas & Tickles Double Daisy (Colour First Reader) by Kes Gray

When children are learning to read, books need to be attractive to entice them and this series certainly succeeds there - children will want to pick these books up and that's the first hurdle overcome. Join Daisy in two adventures perfect for new readers. In Eat Your Peas, just how far is Mum prepared to go to get Daisy to eat her peas? Daisy is not tempted, but she does have an answer! And in You Do, once again Daisy has all the answers. Tow very entertaining stories, aptly illustrated by Nick Sharratt, which are thoroughly enjoyable.

Tigers & Spies Double Daisy (Colour First Reader) by Kes Gray

Again, an attractive book with two highly amusing stories. Daisy is a determined little girl and when she sets out to be the best spy in the world, you can be sure of some fun. In Tiger Ways, feisty little Daisy wants to persuade the tigers and her mum to do things her way. Will she succeed? Well laid out with plenty of illustrations to ease the tradition from picture books, this is an enticing and satisfying series for the new reader.
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Phonics Readers: Set 1 by Stamey Carter

A set of five short readers which are designed for children learning to read and write using the Letterland system - the books accompany the Letterland Teacher's Guides. They are fully decodable and contain a few 'Tricky Words'. The first book starts with just one word to a page and by the fourth story, children are reading three or four words. On the front of each book (and this applies throughout the series) are the phonic sounds focused on in the book. This makes it clear immediately what is covered and the progression to follow and makes it easy to extend and build on the work done. This set includes Sam and other stories; Nat and other stories; Go, pup, go! and other stories; Pets and other stories; Can he kick? and other stories. As children progress through these readers, new letter sounds and tricky words are added and previous learning is revised.

Phonics Readers: Set 2 by Stamey Carter

Another five stories - Shep and me and other stories; Is this her pet? and other stories; Red Robot runs and other stories; Hugs and other stories; Zig and Zag and other stories which build on the sounds learnt in series 1 and, of course, add new sounds and tricky words. All the stories in this series are decodable - that means that the words in them only include letter shapes and sounds that the children have learned. With these bright colourful books which are carefully levelled so children can progress with confidence, it's hard to see that any child will find learning to read anything but satisfying and enjoyable.

Phonics Readers: Set 3 by Stamey Carter

Set 3 contains Spin and smash and other stories; Can a crab grab? and other stories; Rose bakes a cake and other stories; Look what happened! and other stories; Molly and me by the sea and other stories - the contents list (as with all the series) tells you which phonic sounds are the focus of the story. Of course, the Letterland characters are the stars! Bright and engaging, the books rely heavily on pictures to help enjoyment and children will enjoy reading and using the pictures to help reading - and, of course, recognising their favourite characters. Each has an introduction on how to use the book plus basic teaching tips; tricky words are shown at the beginning so the adult can be prepared to help the young reader when the word appears.

Phonics Readers: Set 4 by Stamey Carter

By this stage, children are confidently reading really satisfying stories. The format of all the books in the series is excellent - the almost-square shape and compact size is very child-friendly. The lively stories in this pack are enjoyable and well-chosen for children, covering a range of interests and with equal appeal to girls and boys. Carly and the sharks and other stories; My very bad morning and other stories; Ben's birthday surprise and other stories; Penguins on the loose and other stories; What big flippers you have and other stories. In total, the series includes 83 stories and they can be used to decode the 44 sounds of the English language. Visit the Letterland site to find plenty of help with using the books and with teaching phonics.

Flash Cards - Three-Letter Words by Alain Gree

Alain Gree's charming illustrations adorn the laminated flashcards in this pack which are ideal for teachers, parents and carers to teach common CVC words to children aged 4+. Each card has a single word in clear, easy-to-read text one side with a picture on the other. Notes are included with helpful suggestions for games and activities with the cards. Even before they are ready to read, young children enjoy playing with sets of cards and this helps early reading skills as they become familiar with the shapes of the letters; they have fun naming the objects and can then look at the word. Publication October 2013, ISBN 9781908985149, published by Button Books.

Who's Next? Split Page Book (Letterland) by Beth Maddox

The split pages make this a fun way for children to learn the alphabet as they read the rhyme. Of course, all the friendly Letterland characters are here and as children flip the pages, they can read the amusing rhyme which links to the next character - can they guess who's coming next? Make the most of the bright pictures as there is plenty more to spot and discuss - how many little ducks can you find with a d? What's the animal on Kicking King's kite? All the letters are shown at the end and there are questions to discuss too.

My Alphabet Storybooks (Letterland) by Lisa Holt

The Letterland characters are very appealing for children so they will be thrilled to see this collection of 26 storybooks neatly packed into their own box. The stories are such fun that children won't realise just how much they are learning. From Annie Apple and the ants to Zig Zag Zebra and the buzz, each book has a lively story to read aloud and a decodable sentence carefully levelled for the child to read. Sharing reading like this is an excellent way to learn and satisfying for both adult and child. The stories are enjoyable so reading will become a pleasurable shared activity, and the colourful engaging illustrations give lots of opportunity to discuss the story and the letters. The introduction shows parents which decodable words are in each book so you can share the stories in the right teaching order. THe use of alliteration helps with learning and also makes the stories read aloud well. The stories also include some tricky High Frequency words with irregular sounds shown in blue. You can scan the QR code inside each book with your smart phone or tablet, then press ‘play’ to listen to the story and this helps with pronunciation if help is needed. A super set of books to help children learn to read in an engaging and enjoyable way.

Horrid Henry's Fearsome Four (Horrid Henry Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Four stories in one book featuring mischevious rogue Henry along with his family, friends and long-suffering teachers.This is a full colour bind-up gift book of four Horrid Henry Early Reader stories - including Horrid Henry's birthday party, Horrid Henry's underpants, Horrid Henry's nits and Horrid Henry and the football fiend. As ever, these are hilarious stories that are perfectly geared to appeal to children's sense of humour and equally enjoyed by girls and boys. Tony Ross' lively illustrations help children make the transition from picture books. This is a red Early Reader, which follows on from the blue Early Readers, helping your child make steady reading progress whilst enjoying excellent storytelling. A lovely gift book.

Twit the Owl Who Wasn't Wise (Early Reader) by Steve Cole

Twit is a scruffy little owl and his brothers love to play tricks on him so he often gets into trouble. Poor little Twit - you do feel sorry for him! But when Norma the vole befriends him, his brothers had better watch out! She teaches him the importance of sticking up for himself and things get much better. Jane Porter's delightful illustrations complement the story and add to children's enjoyment. The stories in the Early Reader series are fun and children will read them over and over thus helping the development of their reading skills.Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Play (Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry is desperate to be Joseph in the school Christmas Nativity play. The trouble is, Miss Battle-Axe has made him the inn-keeper, so the only thing Henry can do is make his own role in the play as big as possible, in his own inimitable way. Tony Ross illustrates these books perfectly, helping the reader to get to know Henry even better. He is the perfect character to get young readers hooked on reading. Children will enjoy reading this on their own, but it's equally good to read aloud - and a great Christmas present to encourage reading. The books in the series are attractive and well produced and they make a great collection!

I Love My New Toy! (Elephant & Piggie) by Mo Willems

This is a book which stands out from the majority of early readers. Just two characters keep things simple for young readers - pink piggy and grey elephant appear on every page and the simple story is told purely through speech bubbles. Piggie has a new toy - but Elephant is rough and the new toy gets broken - the story can almost be told through the wonderfully expressive pictures which help children to read. In the end, friendship is the most important thing.

Mondays at Monster School (EARLY READER) by Ruth Louise Symes

Children learning to read today are so fortunate! When I look at the exciting stories and attractive presentation of Early Readers, it's a wonder to me that children fifty years ago ever learnt to enjoy reading! Even little monsters get worried about their first day at school and the two little monsters Fred and Ted are no different. In fact, Ted actually hides! But once he has been found and the friends get to school, they find it is great fun, with slime painting, stomping and stamping and other really fun lessons. They can't wait for Tuesday... This is a Blue Early Reader - perfect for sharing and reading together.

I Am A Woolly Hat (EARLY READER) by Salma Koraytem

This is a Blue Reader - the next step in reading progression and ideal for children to read alone. I wondered just what the story was going to be about and it turned out that it is all about love. Basma wondered about love. What is it like? Does it have a shape or a colour or a taste? Is it like a coat or a jumper or a shawl? Or is it like a warm woolly hat? A delightful story with a gentle and reassuring message.

A Palace Full of Princesses (Early Reader) by Sally Gardner

A special gift book bind-up edition bringing together four popular Early Reader Magical Princess stories: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Frog Prince. These are delightfully illustrated retellings that keep all the feel of the traditional tales in an easy-to-read format. I can see these stories being read over and over again, thus helping children's reading skills develop, whether they are sharing and listening or reading alone. It would make a lovely gift book with its attractive presentation. More confident early readers will love this bind-up of four stories, although I wouldn't give it as a starter book as the size could be a bit daunting.

Time to Read: The Grizzly Bear with the Frizzly Hair by Sean Taylor

This story offers young readers much more humour than the average early reader, and the illustrations interweave to great effect. The tension mounts as the hungry grizzly bear draws the rabbit further and further into his mouth - can the rabbit escape? The clever rabbit points out something even tastier to eat and tricks the bear completely. The rhyming text will encourage children's reading and they will enjoy this traditional story. The delicate drawings are full of detail and provide a great opportunity to develop language through discussion.

Time to Read: Who Ate Auntie Iris? by Sean Taylor

One little chinchilla loves going to visit her Auntie Iris - but there's danger in the air at the block of flats where she lives. . . not surprising when there are bears on the first floor, crocodiles on the second floor and wolves on the third! Then one day, Auntie Iris goes down to put out the rubbish, and she doesn't come back! Little Chinchilla is determined to solve the mystery of her disappearance, even if it does mean talking to her very scary neighbours!

What the Ladybird Heard (Let's Read!) by Julia Donaldson

This is one of my very favourite picture books. I just love the cleverness of the story - and it's a delight to see realisation dawn with young readers as they suddenly realise just how the thieves are tricked. The ladybird 'said never a word' but foils the plot with the help of her farmyard friends. This edition, in the colourful Let's Read series, has all the text and illustrations of the original,but smaller format as befits a reading book. The repetition and rhyming text are perfect for beginner readers and there are plenty of clues in the pictures too.

The Princess and the Pig (Let's Read!) by Jonathan Emmett

How can learning to read be anything but sheer pleasure when there are books of this calibre to learn with? The original story has been specially re-designed into an early reader format with expert advice from a literacy consultant. There’s been a dreadful mix-up in the royal nursery. Priscilla the princess has switched places with Pigmella, the farmer’s new piglet! Perhaps if kissing a frog can work, the same could apply to pigs... a thoroughly enjoyable story which is super for young readers.

Tree Fu Tom: The Great Treefle Hunt: Colour First Reader)

It's a good way to encourage young readers - capitalising on their interest in a TV series to draw them into books. Their familiarity with the characters means that it's easier for them to follow the story and this improves confidence. When Tom and his friends find some tasty Treefles growing around Treetopolis, just for one day, they can't wait to tuck in! But what starts out as sharing soon turns into a greedy competition, and then the trouble begins... Can Tom persuade the others to put a stop to their squabbling? With some Big World magic, he's sure to save the day! With plenty of pictures, this is an ideal progression from picture books.

Horrid Henry's Royal Riot (Horrid Henry Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

This hilarious character is a great way to get children enthused about reading. This is a full colour hardback gift book bind-up of four Early Reader stories starring Horrid Henry which makes a perfect present for Horrid Henry fans! The book includes: HORRID HENRY'S THANK YOU LETTER, HORRID HENRY'S SPORTS DAY, HORRID HENRY MEETS THE QUEEN and MOODY MARGARET'S SCHOOL. Ideal for early readers, with short chapters, highly entertaining stories which guarantee laughs and plenty of colour illustrations which help the transition from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your child's reading journey. Publication 26/09/13.

Alfie Small: Captain Thunderbolt and the Jelloids: Colour First Reader

This colourful book for early readers features the exciting adventures of Alfie Small, a famous and well-prepared explorer. He and his faithful companion Jed are off into space - to meet a purple subterranean alien, a blithering, bungling spaceman and a pack of drooling space gangsters. Young readers will enjoy the adventures, the engaging dialogue and the illustrations - and then return safely for tea with Alfie.

Alfie Small: Serpents and Scarecrows: Colour First Reader

Another adventure for brave explorer Alfie Small - this imaginative character will really appeal to children and encourage them to read so they can share his adventures. He meets all sorts of scary creatures during his travels - this time, it's a hissing, slithering serpent, a sinister, shuddersome scarecrow and a giant man-eating plant - all guaranteed to appeal to children.

Mr Bloom's Nursery: Raymond's Stinky Cheese (Mr Blooms Colour First Reader)

It's good to see such a wide range of different books about Mr Bloom and his nursery, so there is something to engage every child and build on their interest in the TV show. The Veggies' picnic has to be put on hold when Raymond's favourite cheese goes missing. Can Compo's super sniffing machine to work out where the whiffy cheese has gone? This stinky story is perfect for children who are just learning to recognize words, basic vocabulary and short sentences. Children will enjoy spotting familiar scenes from the TV as they get to grips with reading the story.

Rona Long-Teeth (Monster Stories) by Fran Parnell illus by Sophie Fatus

This is a story from Tahiti which shows the emphasis Barefoot Books give to bringing children the best stories from a wide range of cultures. Hina's mother Rona Long-Teeth takes good care of her. But when the moon is full, Rona eats the juiciest-looking humans she can find. When Hina learns the truth, she teams up with her neighbour Monoi to stop her monster mother's people-eating ways. A high quality book with memorable and highly appropriate illustrations which reflect the feel of the story to a remarkable extent.

Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail (Monster Stories) by Fran Parnell illus by Sophie Fatus

In this story from Chile, a frustrated king flies into a rage and turns his mischievous daughters into oranges. The gruesome monsters Grim and Grunt decide they'd like to get their hands on the princesses, and bully their little brother, Grizzle-Tail, into stealing the girls. Who will rescue the princesses from the monsters' clutches? This is an Early Reader, with simple sentences and carefully selected vocabulary. It shows that publishers can branch out and introduce children to new cultures even while they are taking their first steps to reading.

Fairy Friends (Read It Yourself Level 1) by Ronne Randall

Lily and Rose are helpful fairies who love to take care of their garden friends. But will Patch the elf's naughty tricks mean that the fairy friends stop helping those who need it? The simple storyline with plenty of repetition will give children confidence and help their reading progression. The large clear font and high proportion of pictures make the books appealing. Extra value is given with comprehension puzzles and helpful notes for parents, carers and teachers. "Fairy Friends is a Level 1 Read it yourself title, suitable for very early readers who have had some initial reading instruction and are ready to take their first steps in reading real stories. Each story is told very simply, using a small number of frequently repeated words."

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Chicken Licken (Read It Yourself Level 2) from Ladybird

In this classic fairy tale, a nut falls on Chicken Licken's head and he decides he must tell the king that the sky is falling down! On the way he meets many other feathered friends, and one cunning fox. Children's reading progression is helped by the use of high-frequency words and a limited number of story words that are introduced and practised throughout."Chicken Licken is a Level 2 Read it yourself title, ideal for children who have received some initial reading instruction and can read short, simple sentences with help." "Each Read it yourself book is very carefully written to include many key, high-frequency words that are vital for learning to read, as well as a limited number of story words that are introduced and practised throughout."

Hansel and Gretel (Read it yourself Level 3) from Ladybird

Based on the classic fairy tale. When Hansel and Gretel get left in the woods, they are captured by a witch who lives in a house made from gingerbread and sweets. How will they ever escape? "Hansel and Gretel is a Level 3 Read it yourself title, suitable for children who are developing reading confidence and stamina, and are eager to start reading longer stories with a wider vocabulary." "Simple sentences and frequently repeated words help to build the confidence of beginner readers and the four different levels of books support children all the way from very first reading practice through to independent, fluent reading."

Heidi  (Read It Yourself Level 4) from Ladybird

Based on the classic story by Johanna Spyri. Heidi loves living in the mountains with her grandfather and her friend Peter, and is homesick when she moves to Frankfurt. Will she make it back to her beloved mountains?  "Heidi is a Level 4 Read it yourself title, ideal for children who are ready to read longer stories with a wider vocabulary and are keen to read independently." The books are a slightly larger format than the traditional Ladybird book, and this gives plenty of scope for colourful illustrations and clear, easy to read layout.

Frogs (National Geographic Kids Level 1) by Elizabeth Carney

Frogs are one of the first creatures many children study as they collect frogspawn and study the life cycle of the frog. The book includes both basic frog facts and the extremes that appeal to children. There are superlatives, jokes and the incredible photography typical of National Geographic. The books at Level 1 are levelled for children just starting to read alone and are an excellent way to capitalise on the desire that children have to learn at this stage. The fascinating facts and stunning photography combine to make a series of books that children will love to read. Each book contains stimulating activities for children, for example, Caterpillar to Butterfly has close up pictures to identify, and each contains a picture glossary. New words, for example nectar and camouflage in 'Caterpillar to butterfly' are explained on the relevant page.

Volcanoes! (National Geographic Kids: Level 2) by Anne Schreiber

A book which gives readers a brief summary of the science and history of these dramatic landforms. National geographic photography fires the imagination on dramatic spreads alive with vivid images of lava, ash, molten rock, weird rocks, and steaming seawater. The glossy photographs and short explanations make this a very visually appealing series. The combination of factual texts and graded reading scheme books make these an excellent classroom resource for those who enjoy reading non-fiction. As fact books, they are useful for KS1 and would be an asset to any library or as books for home use to stimulate interest in the world around us. Level 2 books are for children ready for longer sentences and more complex vocabulary. The writing is interesting and stimulating and a great incentive to learn to read; there are jokes too! Excellent layout and use of colour are other plusses of this great series.

DC Super Friends: Brain Freeze! (Colour First Reader)

The bright colours and comic style presentation are perfect to capture young readers' attention. The city of Metropolis shivers when it feels the icy touch of Mr Freeze. Can the Super Friends melt this cold-hearted villain's frosty plans? This fun and exciting story, which is the next step up from a picture book, is perfect for children who are just learning to recognize words, basic vocabulary and short sentences.

DC Super Friends: Going Bananas (Colour First Reader)

Gorilla Grodd is on the loose and causing mayhem wherever he goes. Will the Super Friends be able to stop him and his magical gorilla army, before it's too late? Carefully selected text, with plenty of repetition, is perfect for children just starting to read on their own, and they will enjoy the fun story.

Horrid Henry and the Demon Dinner Lady (Red Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry (as you might expect!) doesn't like school dinners. So Dad does him a packed lunch - it's almost healthy but Greasy Greta, the unpopular dinner lady, is very quick to pounce on anything unhealthy. But our intrepid hero is having none of it in this hilarious story. Sometimes with early reading books, I am a little disappointed that the inside of the book does not live up to the colourful and enticing cover - but there's no such problem with this series, which is generously illustrated with super colour pictures. This makes the transition from picture books easy and encourages children to make that progression.

Murdoch Mole's Big Idea (Blue Early Reader) by Georgie Adams

On Monday the oak tree blew down. Murdoch Mole was perfectly certain it was all his doing. On Wednesday Murdoch had a BIG idea. A story of a very little mole with very BIG ideas, who becomes somebody over the course of four days. A lovely story which bridges the gap from picture book to chapter book perfectly, with its colourful layout and easily read enjoyable story. The questions at the back are ideal for discussion and consolidating understanding.

Mo Farah (EDGE Dream to Win) by Roy Apps

Who could forget Mo Farah's inspirational wins at the 2012 Olymics? THis si the story, written in simple English, of how his determination brought him success. The Dream to Win series is an excellent series about athletes who have overcome any obstacles in their way to become great sprotsmen and women. An inspiration to anyone who reads about them and with this compelling series available, averyone gets the chance to be inspired.

The Croods: Here Come The Croods: Colour First Reader

Meet the Croods - Grug, Ugga and their children. When a big earthquake forces Grug out of his cosy cave, he and the rest of the Crood family must travel through dangerous new landscapes full of strange species in search of a new home. Will Grug overcome his fears and learn to love this brave new world and its strange creatures? This fun and exciting story is perfect for early readers who are starting to read on their own and who feel comfortable tackling new words.

Mr Slater, Gladiator (Genie Street: Ladybird Read it Yourself) by Richard Dungworth

This is book six of Ladybird's Genie Street fiction series. The two stories are  Mr Slater Gladiator and Madame Zarr Circus Star. Both star Tom and Daisy and children are always happy to read about familiar characters as they feel safe and reassured by familiarity when starting out on the big adventure that is reading for themselves.Genie Street is the next step up from Ladybird's Read it yourself Level 4. With short chapters, simple vocabulary and a clear font, these books will encourage and build confidence when reading. There are plenty of black and white pictures.

 

Noah's Ark (Early Readers) by Georgie Adams

A simple and engaging retelling of the story of Noah which will sit well with RE studies as well a being an enjoyable story in itself. This is a most attractive series, perfect for encouraging new readers to persevere with their reading so that they can enjoy more in the series. Noah's Ark is a red Early Reader, the follow on to blue early readers. The end page is full of encouragement to read the others in the series. Delightful watercolour illustrations complement the story excellently and they give plenty of opportunity for discussion.

Tree Fu Tom: Hide and Squeak (Tree Fu Tom Colour First Reader)

Chaos ensues in a game of hide and seek causes chaos when Squirmtum's fear of the dark causes a Treequake in Treetopolis. It's up to Tom and his magical powers to help Squirmtum to overcome his fear and save the day. This brightly illustrated exciting story is perfect for children who are just learning to recognize words, basic vocabulary and short sentences.

Moody Margaret's Makeover (Early Readers) by Francesca Simon

Another hilarious story about Horrid Henry's sister. Anything Moody Margaret can do, Horrid Henry can do better. So when Margaret starts giving her friends makeovers, Henry decides to steal - no, borrow! - her idea. He is sure he can do it much, much better. It can't be that hard to make people look really fantastic... can it? As you can imagine, with Henry involved, disaster soon follows... This is a Red Early Reader - Red Early Readers are the next step for children's reading journeys, following on from Blue Readers. They have plenty of white space, clear layout and lots of colourful illustrations to make the books attractive and easy to read.

 

Look At Me (Early Readers) by Francesca Simon

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. This is a red Early Reader -the perfect next step on their reading journey for children starting to read alone. Foxham Pond has frozen over. It's perfect weather for skating, and everyone is very excited. Everyone, that is, except for Honey the puppy. Slipping and sliding over the ice is not her idea of fun - what is she going to do? The attraction of this series lies in the way it crosses over from picture books, with its heavy reliance on pictures to encourage children to enjoy moving on in their reading journey.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Presents (Early Readers) by Francesca Simon

Henry doesn't quite seem to have got into the spirit of Christmas ... Once again, Horrid Henry has a brilliant idea - but one that the rest of his family may not find so brilliant! It's Christmas time but who says he has to BUY his presents for his family? It's the thought that counts! Another hilarious story from the ever-popular character, with equally funny illustrations by Tony Ross.

The First Christmas (Early Readers) by Georgie Adams

The story of the birth of Jesus and the first Christmas re-told with delightful simplicity, and illustrated with charming soft watercolours. Both text and pictures are designed to make this the perfect introduction to the Nativity story for very young children. It's a lovely way for children to read their first Nativity story for themselves and the illustrations portray thye story sensitively and meaningfully. As with all Early Readers, it is a well produced and attractive book, perfect for encouraging children to read for themselves.

Finn at Clee Point (Adventures Advanced Readers) by Richard Knight

The atmosphere of the small fishing village which is home to Finn is clearly evoked in this action-packed story from Barefoot Books. Finn is well-grounded in his locality and loves his life, but disruption threatens when he befriends the Finer family. They are outsiders in this tight-knit community and Finn's loyalties are tested in this powerful story about friendship and loyalty. The village is based on the author's childhood home in Spurn Point, and the illustrations vividly portray the location. The atmosphere of the story is retained by the use of words which may be unfamiliar but they are usefully explained in the glossary. Aimed at a slightly older audience than many of the books on this page, this is ideal for confident readers of 8+.

Never Trust a Tiger: a Story from Korea (Early Readers) retold by Lari Don

As a merchant makes his way to the market, he comes across a beautiful tiger that has fallen down a hole. The merchant is kind enough to help the tiger out of the hole, but once he does, the tiger wants to eat him! The merchant doesn't think this is fair . . . and along the way he asks help. Perfect for ages 6+, this is an enjoyable fable and the illustrations with their expressive faces are quite delightful and will amuse children. Another Barefoot Books title.

The Tortoise's Gift: a Story from Zambia (Early Readers) retold by Lari Don

One hot, dry summer in Zambia, the rain stops falling. THey need the help of a wonderful tree, but they need its name and nobody knows it. So off they go in search of the name... but remembering is harder than they think. It's an amusing story which children of 6+ will enjoy reading for themselves. The illustrations are outstanding - just look at the bounty of the wonderful tree! All these Barefoot Books are excellently produced and a joy to read - a cut above many early readers.

The Haunted House of Buffin Street (Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Early Readers from Orion Books, with their extensive use of illustrations, are ideal stepping stones from picture books to reading books. They are colourful and attractive, with immediate child-appeal - and great stories by top children's authors too. When Fang and Honey's people decide to move out of Buffin Street, everyone is very upset. What can they do to stop them? Then Millie the cat has a clever idea... At the end of the book there is an excellent review section, so the adult can discuss the book with the child to ensure understanding - this is a really god and enjoyable way to develop early reading comprehension skills.

Horrid Henry's Christmas Play (Early Reader) by Francesca Simon

Young readers will enjoy the fact that they can enjoy Henry's adventures along with their older siblings - this will give them the chance to talk about the stories together.  Horrid Henry is desperate to be Joseph in the school Christmas Nativity play. The trouble is, Miss Battle-Axe has made him the inn-keeper, so the only thing Henry can do is make his own role in the play as big as possible, in his own inimitable way. He is the perfect character to get young readers hooked on reading. Children will enjoy reading this on their own, but it's equally good to read aloud.

Moody Margaret Casts a Spell (Early Readers) by Francesca Simon

Another Horrid Henry story - but this time the star is Moody Margaret. Horrid Henry is a master hypnotist (he thinks!), and he's delighted when he puts Moody Margaret under his spell. But will she really do whatever he asks - or will she turn the tables on Henry? The language is carefully chosen for young readers, so they will gain confidence at the same time as enjoying a really good  and satisfying story. Another hilarious story, enlivened as ever by Tony Ross' fantastic drawings.
 

Alfie Small Pirates and Dragons (Dead Easy Read)

ntrepid explorer Alfie Small embarks on an amazing sea-faring adventure - and still gets home safely in time for tea! He encounters a friendly sea dragon, a fierce pirate captain who makes him walk the plank, and a motley crew of mutinous pirates who make him captain of their ship. Children who are just becoming independent readers will enjoy this swashbuckling adventure story - pirates are always popular! Lots of amusing illustrations help tell the story and give clues.

 Blast Off! (I Love Reading, Little Facts) by Ruth Owen

It's good to see non fiction early readers, and especially when they cover topics that really capture children's interest - and space is certainly one of those! The book contains just 100 different words, with repetition of those all-important High Frequency Words, and simple sentence construction. Colourful photos and illustrations show children the wonders of space and the index and glossary help early rerefence skills to be developed. Discussion activities give adults that needed opportunity to discuss the subject of the book.
 

Wonder Words from Raintree

Wonder Words is part of Raintree's Engage Literacy reading programe. Children need to learn the first 100 High Frequency Words when they start to learn to read, and this new series from Raintree Publishers focuses on those words, which are the foundation for reading and so an essential part of early learning. Far better than just a dry list of words to learn, here the words are introduced through a series of enjoyable stories, which will give children confidence as they work through them.
The pack consists of 24 stories, very carefully graded, which will give children confidence when they start reading. They are linked with a Teacher's Resource Book. Children will not learn words in isolation, so this series of 24 books which puts the 100 words into context through a series of engaging and enjoyable stories, will provide a strong foundation for learning. 
 Wonder Words The colourful books are colour banded, starting with 5 pink, then 6 red, 3 yellow, 4 blue, 3 green and 3 orange - this will tie in with future developments. Each book in the series is numbered on the back, and there is also a list on the back of the Wonder Words introduced in the book - 3 to 9 words in each book. As the words are introduced in one book, they are reinforced in succeeding books. Unusually for a series of early reading books, there are different characters in each story. Interest is kept up by an interesting range of settings, from the familiar (the playground) to the unusual (the jungle). Consistency in  use of language is kept by the one author writing ttroughout, but variety is introduced by the use of a range of illustrators, each with a unique style. Ease of reading is ensured by the use of a clear font on a white background. Learners will find that the pictures contain plenty of clues to the text and this will help to increase success and boost confidence.
 
The story books are complemented by the Teacher's Resource book, which contains two carefully chosen photocopiable activity sheets for each book. These provide a wide range of learning experiences and will support children's skills in many aspects of learning as well as literacy. For example, the cut and paste activities help to develop fine motor skills. 
The books and Resource book come in a convenient plastic carry case.
This is the start of a new series - Engage Literacy - from Raintree and I am very much looking forward to seeing what the future developments in this exciting initiative are to be. This is certainly an excellent start and I am sure teachers will welcome a fresh approach.

Going to the Hairdresser (First Experiences with Biff, Chip and Kipper) by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta

This is an excellent way to support learning to read with Biff, Chip and Kipper (part of the Oxford Reading Tree scheme used in 80% of primary schools)  alongside helping young children to cope with the many new experiences they face in their lives. The familiar characters are reassuring to children and they will enjoy finding out just what to expect at the hairdresser - and there's a surprise on the way too! There are suggestions for discussing the story and some puzzles to test observation. Of course, the book is carefully graded to help children learn to read.
My Dad photobook

Create your own photo book with Love2Read

What better incentive to learn to read than with your very own book? You can select your own photos to create a book. There are plenty of suggested titles, including My Daddy, Our Grandma, When It Snowed, I Love and lots more. Alternatively, you can select your own title. The 'Can you read' page lets your child recognise the words from the story. I found the section under 'Help' on choosing suitable words for your child's age to be especially useful. The process is really simple - just select the photos from your own file - you can even save the book and come back to it later. I created the book with my daughter, who has done many similar books and she said this was by far the easiest to use. You are told if the photos are not high enough resolution, so no disappointments over quality. The final book is excellent quality and a wonderful keepsake.
Love2Read book
Make Pa the star! Create your own personalised My dad… book. Dads will love being the star of the bedtime story, so love2read has come up with the perfect Father’s Day gift in the form of a unique, personalised book. Their range of books can be personalised by adding ten photos and text to the pages e.g. “My dad plays golf”, “My dad likes cars” or “My dad loves me”.
All you have to do is upload ten suitable photographs of Dad into a virtual book at and they’ll do the rest. Titles include: My daddy…, Our dad…and My grandad…The books are themed around National Curriculum keywords and are designed to stimulate the child’s interest in books so that they really want to read. No software is needed, the website is easy to use and you can even save your book as you go along if you need to come back to it later.
For further information and to see the range of books on offer please visit their website: www.love2read.co.uk

Siddhartha and the Swan (White Wolves Fiction) by Andrew Fusek Peters

White Wolves Fiction are written for KS1 readers. This, and the two books which follow, fit with the requirements fo the National Literacy Strategy for genres of book which should be read. They are also useful for KS1 RE studies.
Prince Siddhartha finds a wounded swan and he wants to save it, but his cousin Devadatta, who shot the swan, claims it as his property. They cannot agree but decide to take advice. A wise man tells them to do what the swan would want. A compassionate tale which shows how the Buddha came to be kind to all creatures. Vivid illustrations by Miss Swanne complement the story excellently.

Rama and Sita (White Wolves Fiction) by Malachy Doyle

Rama and Sita live together happily in the forest but one day Sita is abducted by the demon king Ravana. Can the little white monkey and all the other monkeys rescue her? A simple retelling of a traditional tale, ideal for early readers with its short chapters and carefully chosen text. An excellent way to introduce beliefs and traditions from other cultures. The bright colourful illustrations by Christopher Corr are atmospheric and depict the story beautifully - I think the style could encourage children to draw their own pictures of the story.

Noah's Ark (White Wolves Fiction) by Annie Dalton

A new character takes part in this well-known tale. The city is in chaos and Noah is determinedly building his ark, despite the jeering of his compatriots - and even his wife. A boy, along with his stray dog, offers to help Noah but can Noah build his ship in time? Finally, the ark is built and then a strange procession is seen - the animals are coming, two by two - enjoy the picture of them on the cover. A happy story with an optimistic ending - maybe some good discussion points here? Again, the illustrations complement the story perfectly.

The Feathered Ogre (Early Readers - Monster Stories)  by Fran Parnell

Early Readers Monster Stories is a series for 6-11 year olds, with simple sentences and carefully selected vocabulary. Along with this there are carefully chosen stories which children will really enjoy reading and which offer a really satisfying read. The delicately coloured illustrations by Sophie Fatus are an integral part of each story - exceptional in stories of this type - and the coloured backgrounds are most attractive.
This story is from Italy and it tells how Pírolo sets out on a quest to find a special feather which is the only thing that can cure the king. He steals the feather, there is a romantic ending and the ogre gets his come-uppance  - all the ingredients of a good story are here!

The Mother of Monsters (Early Readers - Monster Stories) by Fran Parnell 

In this story from South Africa, mischievous Ntombi, the Chief’s daughter, isn’t at all afraid of the fearsome Ilalunge River. But she enrages the Mother of Monsters, with her gigantic head, bulging eyes and thick, slimy scales, causing more trouble than she could ever imagine! Another well-told story with enchanting illustrations - most attractive and enjoyable. A satisfying read for six year olds and up.
 
 

The Abominable Snowman (Early Readers - Monster Stories) by Fran Parnell 

This story from Nepal is attractively presented and interestingly told in this version for young readers. Short chapters with carefully chosen text, generously illustrated, mean that young readers will really enjoy the story of Ramay and the Shakpa or Incredible Snowman. The Shakpa family are fearful and give Ramay their magic wand - but he is tricked out of it. What will happen?

The Terrible Chenoo (Early Readers - Monster Stories) by Fran Parnell

This is a tale from North America - the variety of countries make this series especially interesting and addresses the requirement of the Literacy Strategy for children to read stories from different cultures. A Chenoo is a savage and terrible monster whi terrifies most people. But what is he to do when he is greeted by a warm hug, fed, clothed and taken into a home? A delightful tale about friendship with a sad twist at the end.

 

 The Snow Queen (Confident Readers - Classic Fairy Tales) by Sarah Lowes

Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale retold for 8 - 11 year olds in the series for Confident Readers. This tale of friendship and loyalty finds Gerda setting off to rescue her friend Kay who has been imprisoned by the wicked Snow Queen in the far North. The atmospheric retelling is wonderfully complemented by the unusual and evocative illustrations by Miss Clara. An excellent book to introduce children to a classic tale whilst fostering their new found reading skills. All these books from BArefoot Books are really attractively produced and a great incentive to read.
 

Winter Shadow (Confident Readers) by Richard Knight 

In common with all these books from Barefoot Books, the illustrations are stunning - just look at the atmospheric cover. In a small village in the snowy north Maria stumbles upon a mysterious gray bundle, covered in wintry snow. It's an abandoned wolf cub! Grandfather is hesitant to support his granddaughter’s plan to nurse the cub to health, but soon Maria and Shadow warm the hearts of almost every villager. A heart-warming story but with a sad and emotional ending.

 Boys on Safari Slipcase (First Time Storybooks) by Roger Priddy

A brightly coloured set of early storybooks, based on things that really happened (well, sort of) to the Priddy family. Follow the adventures of a boy, his teddy bear and his dog in this set of five colourful books. Heroic adventures in the park, a missing teddy bear, the first day at school, an over-eating dog and a naughty dog. Simple, bright and clear pictures and plenty of clues to help early readers. Children will readily relate to these stories with familiar settings and they will be encouraged to read through the series as they get to know the characters. All in a carry-along slipcase, which children will love.

Peek-a-Boo Penguin: Ready for Reading by Ruth Owen

Designed to help children take their first steps towards reading, this is a well thought out book, which parents can use as a basis to develop their own ideas, once they have shared the ideas in the book with their child. Matching, spot the difference, shapes, route finding, looking at labels, putting pictures in order...... the list goes on. These are just the sort  f ideas which parents will find valuable and there is plenty of fun here to engage children's interest. The page of notes for parents and teachers is very practical, too. Peek-a-Boo Penguin is an engaging character - spot him on every page.

 Easy Phonics Words from Usborne Books

This is a colourful and fun way for children to learn those all-important early phonic sounds. 43 of the 44 most common phonemes are included, with a selection of words for each sound. Each is pictured in a fun illustration which cleverly draws the sounds together. The clear font, bright colours and simple pictures are all perfect for early learners. There are notes to help parents with this sometimes confusing topic and a link to the website at www.usborne.com/veryfirstreading which is full of useful help.

Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper: Say and Spell Phonics Flashcards

Support your child's school learning with this fun and colourful set of 55 durable and generously sized flashcards.  Practising phonic sounds helps children match letters to words and pictures; match letter sounds to shapes; sound out letters, blend letters and start to spell. There are letters and words on one side of the card and pictures on the other. Some games are suggested - what games can you and your child make up?

 

Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper: Rhyming Games Phonics Flashcards 

This is a set of fun rhyming card games which help children to learn the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. It is a good way to help children become familiar with the characters they will meet at school if their school uses the popular Oxford Reading Tree series. The game format means children learn whilst having fun and the colourful selection of cards gives plenty of scope for developing your own games as well. The use of rhymes is always a good way to learn and this pack will provide good value and get plenty of use. 

 The Frightened Frog by Joe Hackett and Mike Spoor

Finlay the frog is frightened of the water, but Mrs Hooper knows just how to get him swimming. A reassuring story which demonstrates friendship. Plenty of pictures gives clues to the words, and the font is clear for early readers. A satisfying and enjoyable story. Start Reading is a graded series of reading books, which enable you to match your child's reading to the reading done in school. Here are some more at the same level in the series: The Spotless Pig (Start Reading: Animal School), The Speedy Tortoise (Start Reading: Animal School), The Cowardly Lion (Start Reading: Animal School).

Alfie Takes Action by Karen Wallace

Alfie is a meerkat - meerkats are really popular, lovable creatures, so this is a great start to the story.
The meerkat family all have their own jobs to do - but Alfie is a daydreamer and one day all the little meerkats run away when he is supposed to be looking after them; the roof falls in  when he is digging and he faiuls to keep the predators away. Oh dear - what will happen? A lovely story and a great early reader.
This book is one in the Chameleon series of early readers by A&C Black. With full colour illustrations throughout, clear font and short chapters, these are the perfect books for 5 to 7 years olds just starting on the adventure of reading proper story books.

Heidi - Read It Yourself Level 4 from Ladybird Books

Heidi is a children's classic, which has perhaps become a little less known in recent years. It's good to see this abridged version, suitable for fluent independent readers, which will hopefully encourage them to read the original version once their reading ability has developed. The Read It Yourself series is carefully compiled to help new readers through the early stages of reading, with plenty of High Frequency Words included. The illustrations are bright and colourful, with plenty of clues to help children through the book. Questions at the end are a good way to evaluate your child's understanding and help with that all-important comprehension. A fun game ends the book.

The Adventures of Robin Hood adapted by Rob Lloyd Jones 

The well-known story is retold here in a way guaranteed to appeal to young readers. Short chapters, pacy action and masses of illustrations make this an easy but satisfying read and a great way to develop children's confidence in their reading. The language used in this retelling is perfect for the target audience, who will relate to it immediately. It is one in the series 'Usborne Young Reading' which has been compiled with the help of a reading consultant. The stories are graded into levels (this is Series Two - for young readers growing in confidence), making it wasy for parents to choose books at a suitable level for their children. The story is exciting and will hopefully encourage youngsters to look further into books about this popular character.

Pride and Prejudice adapted by Susanna Davidson

This is one in Series 3 of the Usborne Young Reading series, and is ideal for those who have developed confidence and are ready for longer stories. It is a delightful adaptation, which retains much of the feel of the original - although I do hope that readers don't think that they have 'done' Pride and Prejudice and miss out on the joy of reading the original. The illustrations, too, are a perfect reflection of the period and really convey the emotions of the characters. Young readers are introduced to the world of the Bennet family and share in the drama as the story unfolds. A lovely introduction to the world of Jane Austen.

 Alien Alby by Kaye Umansky

Alby and his family live on an alien planet. Alby, who is a very untidy little person, can play in his garden but must not go in the swamp - but he does. A likeable character, with whom children will readily identify, this is an ideal beginner book.
Get your child hooked on reading with this excellent series 'I Am Readiing' from Macmillan. Short chapters, simple sentences and fun stories by top authors make this an excellent introduction to chapter books. The helpful tips for beginner readers will be useful to parents, and I like the integral bookmark so the book is ready for next time.

 

Little Wolf by A H Benjamin

Little Wolf is determined to be good and help people, but everything he tries goes wrong. Poor Little Wolf - he is even misunderstood when he tries to rescue the woodcutter. Everyone chases him - but that turns out to be a good thing... A charming story about beoing helpful, perfectly pitched at the target audience who will enjoy the story and learn that reading is fun. Plenty of lovely bright illustrations capture the interset and provide clues to the words in the story.
The publisher (A&C Black) says Chameleons are 'Full-colour chapter books for children who are learning to read by themselves, Chameleons provide an ideal bridge between picture books and early readers.'

 Stop Thief! by Meg Harper

Poor Jed! How embarrassing - his father is a tap-dancing policeman. But never mind - nobody knows  -at least they don't, until he appears in the local paper, tp dancing in his uniform. Then the bullies start teasing him and Jed doesn't know what to do. Until the day of the burglary, and an exciting chase through the park, in which everyone joins....
Stop Thief and Don't Forget Lara are titles in the White Wolves Familiar Settings series. The publisher, A&C Black, says: 'White Wolves are brilliant stories that have been selected to mtch developing reading skills. Aimed at 5-7 year olds, these books have full colour illustrations throughout and short chapters ease the transition from picture books to young fiction' and that sums up this series perfectly.

 Don't forget Lara! by Juli Green

Another richly illustrated book for developing readers, with short chapters ideal to develop confidence and fluency. The story starts off with Lara's days at school and I like the way it is a reassuring story about school. Lara learns how to help herself remember everything, but on Friday she can't take her painting apron - but you have to read this comforting story to find out why! Perfectly written to both help reassure and as an erly reader.
This is a really attractive series of books and the stories are all great fun to read. More about the White Wolves series here.

 Jack and the Jungle by Malachy Doyle

Jack is bored but then he meets Abbie, a little girl with a VERY vivid imagination. Wolves, snakes, a giant - all in the garden? I wonder....Another excellent early reader from the White Wolves series, designed for readers in Year 2. These are a far cry from the old-fashioned reading books - they are super stories in their own right and a real pleasure to share with children. The stories flow beautifully and there is always a hint of suspense to grab the reader's attention.

 

The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.

 
 
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Thank You for letting me know about the prize. I look forward to receiving it and getting lots of new ideas for my sons lunchbox! DE
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