Book reviews - learning to read (page 2)

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.


Mythical Beasts (Level 3) from DK

Many children prefer to read non-fiction and this title provides a good cross-over as there is an element of fantasy with the facts. Children will respond well to the exciting stories of magical creatures, including werewolves, griffins, dragons and unicorns. DK's stunning illustrations accompany the text and add greatly to the information value, making this a book children will pick up for information as well as to learn to read, thereby learning the value of being able to read fluently. Reading levels through the four stages progress from brief, simple text in the early readers, to slightly longer, more detailed nonfiction chapter books, to challenging nonfiction containing rich vocabulary and more complex sentence structures. A quiz boosts reading comprehension, and an excellent glossary and index are included as well as helpful tips for parents.


Paw Patrol: Phonics Patrol

This attractive boxed set, with a convenient carry handle, includes 12 full-colour phonics readers. Children will respond well to the popular pups of Nickelodeon's PAW Patrol!, and this will help their enthusiasm for reading. Each book features a specific phonics concept that will give boys and girls ages 3 to 7 the tools they need to begin reading on their own. The first book is Pup Pals, featuring short a, and the next four books cover the remaining vowel sounds, with book 6, On a Roll! consolidating all five vowel sounds. The next five books feature long vowel sounds, ending with Book 12 True Heroes, with all the long vowel sounds. An excellent way to progress through the vowel sounds, ensuring each is fully mastered. At the ame time, children will enjoy the lively well illustrated stories.

Kingfisher Readers

Kingfisher Readers: Trucks (Level 2: Beginning to Read Alone) by Brenda Stones

It's great to see really good quality non-fiction readers - not only do they appeal to children (often boys) who prefer to read non-fiction, but they also work well as first reference books, introducing children to the skills and joys of finding out for themselves. Trucks introduces readers who are beginning to read alone to these amazing machines. It includes facts about what jobs trucks do and all the different types of trucks - diggers, combine harvesters, tankers and more. This is a Level 2 book which has short and simple sentences, familiar vocabulary with repetition and a simple glossary. "This irresistible reading series is sure to fire the imagination of young readers with its exciting range of high-interest topics and its great-looking, easy-to-follow design. Developed 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 toward reading alone."

Kingfisher Readers: What We Eat (Level 2: Beginning to Read Alone) by Brenda Stones

Why do we eat? When do we eat? What do we eat? Three questions to grab the attention of young readers are answered clearly and simply, along with colourful photographs that are valuable in adding information as well as for making the book appealing. The book concludes with an explanation of food chains in three different environments The inclusion of a glossary is a good way to encourage children to find out for themselves and teaches them how to use this valuable resource as well as developing vocabulary; glossary words are shown in bold in the text. A good way to introduce non-fiction texts and a title that will support KS1 learning about healthy eating.

Kingfisher Readers: Cars (Level 3: Reading Alone with Some Help) by Chris Oxlade

Cars introduces children who read alone with help to the world of these speed machines. It includes facts about how cars are made, what was the first car, how fast can cars go and more. Level 3 books continue the excellent support for encouraging children to do their own research as well as reading non-fiction for enjoyment. The glossary in this Level 3 book is more extensive and the book includes an index to develop essential early reference skills. It's easy to select books at the right level as they are colour-coded with clear descriptions on the back to explain the levels. Level 3 books have more varied sentence structure, introduce some specialist vocabulary and use simple fact boxes, labels, glossary and index.

Kingfisher Readers: Record Breakers - The Fastest (Level 5: Reading Fluently) by Brenda Stones

The topics in this series have been well chosen for high interest and this is bound to be a popular subject, as children are fascinated by record breakers; this book features record breakers in both the natural world, and man's world. The carefully chosen text includes some more technical words, and these are explained in the glossary. Good use is made of fact boxes and annotated diagrams, introducing children to a range of ways to present information. The layout makes it easy to use the book and the high interest level coupled with appealing presentation is a good way to engage young readers.

Kingfisher Readers: Hurricanes (Level 5: Reading Fluently) by Chris Oxlade

Hurricanes introduces fluent readers to one of nature's stunning natural phenomena. It includes facts about what hurricanes are, where they happen and how people can prepare, making the book a good support for KS2 learning on weather and climate; it also covers a topic frequently in the news, so readers can be better informed. The photography really brings home the devastation caused by extreme weather. Children can discover how big hurricanes can be, and the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons. Level 5 books have longer text with more complex content, more advanced vocabulary and sentence structure, fact boxes, diagram, glossary and index. The attractive and easy-to-follow presentation makes reading a real pleasure.

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.

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 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.

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