This weekend we are off to Blackpool-not-Liverpool. A while back Miss L was struggling with reading, she now has glasses and she has come on leaps and bounds. But in the time it took to get to the bottom of this, her confidence took a massive knock, so we asked her if she would like to choose a reward for doing some extra reading. She said she wanted to go to Liverpool, but it turns out she actually meant Blackpool, so this weekend we are heading to Blackpool-not-Liverpool for the weekend.
Meanwhile Mr G decided he would also finally rise to the challenge this term, he has refused to read at home most this year, but suddenly decided he would read 8 times a week between home and school in return for ‘Mister G’s 4 days of fun (picnic where he choses the food, day out with Me, Day out with Mr A, Day out with Mr A and L – all easy peasy stuff to do). It is amazing how much his confidence and reading ability has changed already. Although I am convinced, like many children’s milestones, that they just go for it when they are up for it, and not before.
So, when Scholastic invited me to collaborate by writing about my experiences of setting up a school book club this term, I thought it would be a brilliant idea. We could stock up on some great value summer books and help the school a bit as 20% of each order over £10 goes to the school in rewards to spend on more books. I will write another post at the end explaining how to do it and letting you know how it goes. So far it has been really simple to organise, as parents can order online. Today I want to focus on the books themselves.
Now they are both on a roll with reading, I really want to keep them going this Summer. It is definitely a case of finding the right books. At Mr A’s suggestion, we spent a few hours in the book shop at Easter, Mr G fell in love with Beast Quest, which we are reading to him. Miss L fell for Winnie the Witch and the a Calvin and Hobbes annual of Mr A’s. Comics seem really popular with both of them.
Scholastic have hundreds of books for kids of all ages, organised by age which is really helpful. They also sell packs of books at amazing discounts, great for when kids really fall for an author. Both mine suddenly seemed to get a real sense of momentum by working through sets of books.
These jumped out at me as great value summer books…
Sandcastles. Smugglers’ caves. Magical ice creams. Yummy picnics. No one writes about summer like Enid Blyton. My Mum tried to stop me reading her books on the grounds she wasn’t very PC, but she knew she was fighting a losing battle, any stereotypes went over my head I was so engrossed in summertime adventures. Holiday Stories £3.99 Age 7-9
Mr G loves having Beast Quest read to him, and we are rattling through at a pace, he loves the idea he could read them to himself eventually – there are enough of them to get through for that to be a possibility! It’s slightly annoying that the lead female character isn’t more active, but I guess men also like to indulge their hero status and the hero is a sensitive soul who clearly values his companion’s strengths – so I point out that slight flaw in the representation of women when it is my turn to read. The full set of books is £287.42, a saving of over £70. But you can also buy individual series for £15.97, a saving of £4 and sticker books/individual books and sets of 3. Age 7-9.
L fell in love with Chris Riddel books last year. We soon grew tired of any early reader books for girls with dolphins, ponies, kittens, unicorns, fairies or pink covers, although I know they work brilliantly for some children. Ottline is a really cool and quirky heroine who totally spoke to L – Riddell’s imaginative story lines and stunning illustrations are great for reluctant readers. Right at our darkest depths of reading hell I could have kissed Mr Riddell for suddenly making L love books again. Ottoline and the Yellow Cat Age 7-11.
We will never get enough of Dahl. Reading them to my kids takes me back to being read to at school, best of all, he always makes me want to read at the end of a long day. This set is a terrific bargain. £29.99 a saving of £36. Age 7-9 (nearly wrote 7 to anything)
I sometimes wonder what on earth is going on when my kids watch this, but Mr A reassures me it is fine. They love it, they love comics, sounds like an incredible way to get a head in a book to me. After all who would have ever guessed it would have been an old Calvin and Hobbes comic that got L reading? Adventure Time £4.99 (£4 off) Age 5-7
Mr G loves Lego, he also had a melt down last time we went into Nottingham because I promised to take him to a comic shop and it was shut. Turns out I could have ordered them online. Lego Super Heros Age 5-7
Check out the full range at Scholastic here, you can donate the rewards to your school by choosing them at checkout.
Setting up a Scholastic bookclub
More information on how to do this here, I will be sharing my experiences after the end of term!
Worried about reading?
I feel like I have done more than my fair share of worrying about reading, neither of mine were particularly keen. Sometimes you hit a moment of clarity, where you have enough hindsight to be able to share some insights. I am no expert, but I do think it helps when parents are honest, so here goes…
We have always tried to do what you are meant to do, read to them at home, filled the house with books, but reading still seemed to always be a battle ground. Weeks would pass where they just wouldn’t read at home, L because of things jumping round the page, G because he was tired of a full day of school activities and just wanted free play. After all these years of worrying about them reading, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes kids just have bigger plans . G’s teacher reassured me that you can tell he has been read to from his vocabulary and imagination. I have headstrong kids, I should have known they would read when they were ready to, and not before.
However, L was more complicated, for a long time I had a gut feeling there was something more wrong, and it turns out my instinct was absolutely right. I sensed reading was harder for her than it should be, especially when G started to learn. With G I could tell he was too busy doing other things, whereas L would willingly sit down to do it, but then make excuses to get up and get frustrated.
Regular eye tests are a really good idea, ask around or look for an optician who specialise in children. Kids are great at cheating eye tests it turns out – L got through two tests without anything being picked up. It was a minor thing, but was dramatically altering her reading ability. One thing I didn’t know was that kids eyes start to fix at around 8 so we were lucky she got her glasses just before she turned 8. At her last visit she had 20 20 vision, so the glasses have really worked, and she might now not always need them.
Embrace the audio book – while we were waiting to get to the bottom of what was stopping L from reading we were advised rather than holding back on older books for when she could read them, to let her really enjoy characters and narratives via us reading to her, film and audio books. Audio books are amazing on holidays too, and always help them settle wherever we are.
Fill the house with books. Whatever works for you and your family is fine, whether it is weekly trips to the library, rifling charity shops, swapping with friends or ordering books online. Leave books everywhere to be discovered…