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  • Simon Barrett

Early Readers


Introducing two fantastic sets of books for early and emerging readers to enjoy from Bloomsbury and an equally brilliant set from Maverick Arts - all are complementary to one another and should easily find themselves a home on any bookshelf accessible to children.

Maverick Early Readers is a banded book series with brightly coloured stars subtly located on the back cover to indicate the level of each book. Choose from Pink, Turquoise, Purple or White depending on your reader’s ability and comprehension levels. The bands follow the Institute of Education scale and are applied according to the difficulty that the text presents. In addition, consideration is given to the style of the language , its formality, the visual layout of words and pictures in conjunction with topic and comment boxes and of course the phonics learning embedded. Words, phrases and the development of sentence are considered too. Both fiction and non-fiction titles are included, and the range is fully inclusive providing something for all readers at all levels.

At the Pink level for the earliest reader, I have seen four different books, each with two stories included. Dig for Gold and Go Rocket by Alison Donald with illustration bu Jo Byatt; Duck is Stuck and Get the Ball by Katie Dale, illustration by Serena Lombardo; Look Out! and Dot and Dan’s Trip by Katie Dale, illustrated by Dean Gray and Let’s Dress Up and In The Net by Jenny Jinks, illustrated by Lindsay Dale-Scott. Each book begins as with a single letter to learn. Readers are encouraged to trace the letter in both lower and upper case, making its sound too. They are then shown the words they will need to look out for and become familiar with along with associated pictures to help them and a set of high frequency words which will appear in the story. There are tips for the adult reader and some fun activities to do too. The story is necessarily simple at this level but it will give children the confidence to know that they can read and enjoy a story.

Moving up the levels, the samples I was sent were all non-fiction titles that will appeal to readers either because of interest or topic work at school. This means that readers will have more confidence when working at school, for these are books which will have made important topics accessible to them. Our Place in Space helps the reader understand - with clear and simple text and photography as well as illustration - more about this fascinating and key topic whilst Going Green taps into the ongoing considerations of how we might be kind to our planet. The ‘An Alien’s Guide’ caption and delicious aliens on the front cover of these will only serve to add appeal and encourage readers to think about sharing their learning with others too.

In all, this is an exceptionally important set of books with a good range of topics which will ensure that children will able to (and will want to!) read, building their confidence and starting them off on the right footing with a love of books - and hopefully a lifetime of great reading ahead of them!

Bloomsbury Young Readers is another new series of banded books. But more than that, it is a brand-new series of books written and illustrated by some fantastic authors and illustrators designed to get children as young as five developing their reading skills. Julia Donaldson, Tony Brandman and Joanna Nadin are just some of the names you might recognise. They have joined the team at Bloomsbury in order to create fantastic books for children with full colour illustrations accompanying their words to engage and delight the reader.

The books are based on phonetics; they are banded to aid educators, parents and others who may be involved in guiding children to the most appropriate reading, having been reviewed by experts before publication. There are notes in each book designed to assist adults in engaging their young readers and there are suggestions for activities linked to the story that readers can follow up with, too.

Activities include word hunts, letter writing – to the characters, or author perhaps - questions asking what the reader thinks they may have done in the situations that arise in the stories and opportunities to be creative – perhaps drawing their own pictures of the story or taking an element that invites creativity and expand it.

In essence, these books are ideal for building a child’s reading confidence and ability as well as their own library – if they are bought for home – or the school library if bought for that setting.

Children are now, in some settings, taught to read phonetically and therefore may have a need to develop their reading skills. This series , at all levels, supports such reading needs and encourages children to want to read. There are currently five levels in the series – Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White, Lime – and 24 books. The Turquoise and Purple books are shorter at 32 pages each, 750 and 1,000 words respectively. Gold, White and Lime come in at 48 pages, 1,200, 1,500 and 1,750 words respectively. All are phonic phase level 6. It is the number of words per book which distinguishes them, gradually and subtly building on the reader’s language knowledge.

A sample of the Gold Level books includes –

Elvis the Squirrel – in this story Elvis, and his woodland friends have to go to the rescue of his best friend Chuck who has been carried off by a raven!

Mighty Max – meet Max the monster who likes to show off rather than staying hidden – will this have disastrous results? Lots of laughter to be had in this story.

Eye, Eye Captain – the very funny story of a short-sighted pirate who might need glasses more than the traditional eye patch!

Alice Goes to Hollywood – Alice is an anteater who fancies being a film star, but can an anteater find a place in Hollywood?

At Lime Level you can read –

It Wasn’t Me – if you always blame a gremlin for making a mess and living in your sock drawer, beware, one day they may appear!

Cereal Superfan – could you be a cereal superfan and enter the competition to design a brand-new cereal?

Zoom to the Moon – if you have ever dreamt of riding in a rocket to the moon hold on tight for in this story that dream may be about to come true.

At White Level titles include -

Alfie Takes Action – featuring a meerkat who loves helping with movies

Sports Day – which race is the best, which will you be the best at and which is the most fun?

Pet Quest – is it possible that there might be a pet small enough to fit into a flat? Read this one to fine out.

Happy Birthday Sausage – its birthday time for a sausage dog but will the plans of two jealous cats spoil the fun or add more?

Turquoise Level looks to a traditional English tale and gives it a retelling in The Ugly Little Swan

Hello, Baby Mo! explores the introduction of a new sibling for Adam who most certainly isn't the brother he hoped for!

A Tiger for Breakfast takes an Indian folktale and gives it a modern twist.

Purple Level includes an exciting adventure story that takes place in one little boys’ back garden. Jack and the Jungle is engaging and fun.

Get a Move On! It's Monday morning and Maxine is not in a hurry, her family are though - will they be able to encourage Maxine to get a move on?

Knights v Dinosaurs Who is to blame for the messy morning bedroom could it be Roaring Rita or Sir Clanky the knight?

And a new series from Bloomsbury Education, Time To ..., comprises a set of hard backs which are engagingly illustrated in full colour, using clear and simple language for children to relate to and understand. They include guidance tips for adults, feature a range of appealing characters and are, in a nutshell, perfect for young children just beginning to read and who are ready to learn and understand some basic but important everyday skills.

For now you can choose from (or start with them all) -

Time to Eat - understand why food is important and what different foods they might like to try. Helping to lay the foundations for positive and healthy eating.

Time to Tidy Up - playing can be messy for children but they may not want to do the putting away! Turn a chore into a fun activity.

Time to Share - sharing isn't easy, children need strategies to help them understand why it is important, this story will help them begin to learn and talk about sharing.

Time to Make Friends - Shy or confident, all children have different personalities and ways of communicating - help them build confidence with this delightful story.

#MaverickEarlyReaders #AlisonDonald #JoByatt #KatieDale #SerenaLombardo #DeanGray #JennyJinks #LindsayDaleScott #JuliaDonaldson #TonyBrandman #JoannaNadin #BloomsburyChildrensBooks

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