We were recently sent 2 early reader books to review from Orion Books. These are: Poppy the Pirate Dog’s New Shipmate and Algy’s Amazing Adventures in the Arctic.
My oldest boy is just about to turn 5 and these books are marked 5+ so I thought they would be perfect to try out. He is currently in reception year at school and his reading is coming along quite nicely, I would say he is at about an average level for his age. Below is an example of the kind of simple reading scheme books he gets from school and he is able to read these quite easily now, so I am interested in seeing if he can push himself a little further with his reading now that he has picked up all the basics.
To contrast, this is a page from one of the Orion early reader books – Poppy the Pirate Dog’s New Shipmate:
As you can see, It is quite a big jump from what he is currently reading, so at the moment he is not at all able to read that all by himself. I think seeing such a long book and more sentences on the page daunted him a little so he did want me to read a lot of it to him. There are still plenty of pictures so it is not a full page of black and white text, but compared to other Early Reader books we have at home, such as Ladybird, these are that bit more advanced and challenging. I would say they are basically a first stage chapter book for children who are newly free readers, rather than still working through reading schemes. Some of the vocabulary is a little more challenging too for example pounced, bounded – whereas in the more simple books it would have been just jumped, ran. This is good for stretching the children though!
For a slightly more confident reader or a child of 5 and a half+ I think they would probably be able to read it quite well. So in 6 months or so I would think my little boy will get on with it much better as a book to read himself, and I can see him getting so much more out of the books as his reading progresses.
Meanwhile though, I did read the stories to him and he thoroughly enjoyed them. They held his attention really well. The stories have a bit more depth to them as they are that bit longer than some of the basic books. They have humour in them and are well written.
Poppy the Pirate Dog’s New Shipmate is about a family dog who gets lonely at home while the family are out at school or work, so they decide to bring her a companion to keep her company, but rather than the little dalmation she is hoping for – they come home with a kitten! The story then tells about how the kitten gets on her nerves but eventually she warms to him and accepts him as his new shipmate. This is a good message and one most children can probably relate to, especially in the context of younger siblings but maybe even school classmates they may not have warmed to straight away. Being the oldest I think my son could relate to Poppy the dogs point of view where the little ones do bother him at times, but then if they are not there he would miss them! The little kitten George is very cute and based on a real kitten shown at the front of the book.
Algy’s Amazing Adventures in the Arctic actually has a similar message, where a boy (Algy) thinks that younger children are always annoying and just cause trouble, but by including his friend’s little brother Brad, he finds out that sometimes they can be fun and he could get along with them. They all go into a magic shed which turns into different adventures every time, and this time it has turned into a snowy arctic adventure. We read about the children building snowmen, and little Brad gets lost and ends up being found nearby to where he has been meeting a yeti who took his carrot.
The pictures are all bright and engaging to help keep the child’s interest in the story, and my son enjoyed both of these.
There are loads and loads of books in this early reader series, so there is a great variety and plenty to choose for any child’s taste. You can see some of them here. I also noticed written on the back of the book, that there is a blue level available for the early readers which may be slightly easier. I will have a look for those for my son to try out as it may be more suitable for his level at the moment and hopefully they will help to build his confidence so that he could return to these red level books in a few months and feel more able to read them unsupported. Once he is a little stronger in his reading I am sure he would love reading all of these early reader books and they would be ideal for us to collect.