A couple of months back, snubnose finally discovered the joy of reading regular books (non-picture books), and I was beyond thrilled. To make the transition easier, I tried to pick up books that come in a series.
In my mind, series books are awesome for hesitant readers because of the following reasons:
- If snubnose likes one book, then automatically she starts reading the entire set.
- It helps to read series books because the context, settings, and characters are already known, so it’s far easier to jump into the story (or at least that’s my theory).
This summer we started with Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (technically not a series, but it was required reading for her school summer assignment). She liked the story and was intrigued enough to read a couple more Roald Dahl books. I could tell that she was still hesitant about reading on her own though. She liked me reading it out to her, but it was hard going on her own.
So, we looked together for books that were fun and easier for her to read on her own, and which suits the snubnose’s fizzy philosophy. So of course there were going to be books about fairies, and sweet little girls.
First off, we checked out the Rainbow Magic series by a number of authors under the common pseudonym of Daisy Meadows.
These books are perfect for dreamy little girls. The stories deal with best friends Kirsty Tate and Rachel Walker and their encounters with good fairies and bad goblins. The plots are quite repetitive, but the books are well-written and easy enough for the snubnose to read and process on her own without having to check with me or the dictionary too often.
They are most definitely not classic children’s literature, but snubnose enjoys them and goes through them at the rate of one a week (and that’s because I have placed boundaries). When I see other mums coaxing their kids to read, I am relieved to have hit upon something that snubnose likes. Also considering that there are almost a hundred of these books already available, and more being churned out, I have no worries about lack of new material for snubnose.
She did need more variety however so I also encouraged her into trying the Junie B.Jones books by Barbara Park. While there are no fairies, snubnose relates well to Junie B.Jones and loves the madcap humor in these books.
The reading level is a bit higher than the Rainbow series, and snubnose does not always get the jokes (which are sometimes not obvious to Indian readers), but she enjoys reading the books anyway.
And last but not the least I want to mention the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne. She just started these books a couple of weeks back, so I can’t really tell whether she likes them or not. The books feature a brother and sister who discover a magical tree house filled with books. The Magic Tree house then whisks the kids off to tons of adventures in different places and times.
What I like is that mixed in with the stories, there is a fair amount of knowledge that can be gathered. Plus, while the basic template of the books is the same, the adventures are all quite different from settings in the Amazon, to a night on the Titanic, to dinosaurs, and what not. There is enough variety for the snubnose to pick and choose which adventure she wants to read about.
Another thing I love about all these series books? Although they are a series, technically, they can be read in any order. A boon as snubnose can just randomly pick a book that suits her fancy without having to think anything about continuity.
She has now become such an avid fan of series books that she is even contemplating her own selection. When I was embarking on my business trip to San Francisco, she charged me to get the entire collection of Roald Dahl books for her. I absent-mindedly agreed. Now as I sit browsing late night, I see that this box set is available for almost 50USD. Gulp! Why do children’s books have to be so bloody expensive? Feel so bad that I am going to disappoint snubnose on this one 🙁
So, how do you get your kids to read? What books work/worked for your first-time little readers?