Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Spotlight on Ladybird Books' "Read it yourself" range. 4 levels of books for all reading abilities.

The Magic Porridge Pot (Level 1 Read It Yourself Range)
While children are away from school for the long summer holidays, it's difficult to keep up the impetus with their own reading. We traditionally struggle with Charlotte's reading during holidays (though she's always ready to be read to, she's not always ready to improve her reading skills herself) so finding a book range that satisfies two separate criteria - 1) being fun to read and 2) supporting traditional reading skills taught in schools - isn't always easy.

We've recently been looking at the fabulous "Read it Yourself" range from a publisher who have traditionally been synonymous with improving children's early reading skills. Ladybird books were books I absolutely loved as a child, and the range is as strong as ever.

Now with a mix of traditional stories (like "The Magic Porridge Pot" - one of our favourite stories reworked wonderfully here by Ladybird for their red-spined "Level 1" range) and licensed character stories (like Peppa Pig, Moshi Monsters and CBeebies' fantastic Tinga Tinga Tales) in a very strong range, there's something for just about everyone.

The range is split into four levels as described below:

Level 1

Level 1 books are for children who are just taking their first steps in reading to themselves, but want engaging and entertaining stories.

Level 2

Level 2 is the level Charlotte is at, beginning to read short simple sentences to themselves. Slightly longer stories to satisfy the curiosity of early readers who are gaining in confidence.

Level 3

Designed for children who have slightly more confidence and can handle fairly complex stories on their own or perhaps with a little help, Level 3 is a fantastic range pulling together some of the most well loved children's characters in books, on TV and in movies.

Level 4

For more fluent readers, Level 4 starts to introduce concepts of chapters and more complexity.

Find out more about the Read It Yourself levels.

Ladybird kindly sent us a book from each of the levels so that we could take a look at the range and they're fantastic. It's probably very important to point out that the major appeal of the range is that they do not feel like "school" books to a child, despite having the structure and in some cases the comprehension exercises that many school early reader books have.

In Level 1, we looked at The Magic Porridge Pot which is a story that uses repetition to good effect, and for those who know the story well, a story that sticks in the mind, introduces tension and mild peril, and introduces concepts of cause and effect. The Ladybird version is ace, as we said above.

For Level 2 we looked at Tinga Tinga Tales - Why Lion Roars...

The Tinga Tinga stories are fabulous modern fables, presented here with the original artwork style and characters from the well-loved CBeebies TV show. Charlotte loved this book best - both because of the entertaining story (who doesn't love a naughty crocodile, who rather steals the show here) and because it was a book at her level which she could disappear into on her own (parents - don't you love moments like that, when you find your child wrapped up in a book reading it on their own? We most certainly do!)

For Level 3 we looked at Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs

A hugely popular character and stories, and at level 3 you can enjoy the original story that kicked off the whole Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs phenomenon. Again, using characters and stories that children are already familiar with in the Read It Yourself range boosts confidence and really engages children in the notion that reading isn't just about learning, reading is also for pleasure.

For Level 4 we looked at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Fabulously illustrated, and although it's a familiar story and one we've seen various versions of, it's a lengthy book that might seem quite daunting for an early reader but does give them the comfort of again building confidence through familiarity with the subject.

The range is very neatly presented and for parents the uncomplicated four level system cuts through a lot of puzzling over which key stage book to get in order to match the ability of your child.

As we mentioned at the top of the review, books like these that aid education and keep a child's reading 'brain' ticking over during the long school holidays are really fantastic, and we're thoroughly impressed with the choice of titles, and of course Ladybird's keen eye for brilliant illustrators and authors to use in the range.

For full details of each level and all the books, check out Ladybird's Read It Yourself Website