What We’ve Been Reading: August

*Squeeze* this in before August turns to September. This August a constant companion has been a couple of Harry and the Dinosaur books. We’ve taken them to a festival, to London, on camping trips and read them again and again at home. The compact size of the books make them portable and good travelling companions, for grabbed moments on trains and buses, or by the light of camping lamp.

We already had Harry books, these are different in that they are; Read if Yourself with Ladybird.

Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, Level 3 and Harry and the Dinosaurs United, Level 4

The level’s translate as:
Level 3: “for more confident readers who can read simple stories with help”
Level 4: “Loner stories for more independent, fluent readers”

Harry has been a long time favorite in our house. Personally, I like the simple stories with no heavy moral message and I like that Harry, like all children, he isn’t perfect. In one of these books he dumps a bowl of breakfast cereal on the head of his sister. Not behaviour I would advocate but a good discussion point. My son, of course, loves idea of dinosaurs friends.

This time last year I was so caught up with the whole ‘starting school thing’ that I hadn’t considered what my son would be doing at school. The unexpected joy of the first year of school has been my son’s journey to being a reader. It has been lovely to return to Harry as a reading book.

As many a parent will tell you, school is tiring, my little boy often comes home exhausted and not so keen to practise his reading. So it’s good to find familiar favorites to tempt him towards reading.

Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs is the story of Harry discovering the dinosaurs. It sets out the importance of caring for them and learning their names, obviously the reader is also learning complicated dinosaur names. The book is reading level 7 which is lower than my boy is reading at school. The Harry books are slightly longer than the reading books at school.

The length of the books was initially a barrier, my son has been used to books with fewer pages and fewer words per page. We have tackled this book, to start with as a book I have read to him and then moved slowly on to one that we have jointly read together. He has began to attempt it on his own and while the challenge of concentrating and effort over more pages, which doesn’t sound much but when you are 5 and it’s all new it is a big deal. He is getting there and it is clearly boosting his reading confidence.

The Read Yourself books feature high frequency words to aid learning to read and are supported by pictures which offer additional prompts. The books have a simple structure with short sentences, dispersed with longer sentences, to challenge the reader. They contain helpful notes for parents and a quiz at the back to reflect on the story.

Harry and the Dinosaurs United neatly combines football and dinosaurs. It is level 4, which is book band 9 which roughly equates to where is at, at school. While my son loves the story being read to him, the complexity of some of the words such as: ‘competition’ and ‘position’, seem to overwhelm him. At the moment he just finds it beyond him to read it himself. He has chosen again and again this summer, as a book to be read by me to him and I am confident come the Autumn he will be reading it himself.

What I’ve learned about learning to read.

Different schools have different reading schemes and different ways to encourage reading at home, most regularly swap books and have reading diaries for parents to complete, as a record of what has been read at home.

Children move through levels of reading, each level a step towards improving. I’ve found it useful to have reading books at home, that are our own. We can return to them time and time again. The Ladybird Read it yourself are great, particularly as they feature familiar characters; traditional stories as well as contemporary stories such as Charlie and Lola and Moshi Monsters.

Sometimes, words get forgotten. Sometimes my son enjoys reading a much simpler book; reading for readings sake rather than the challenge of development.

Sometimes he is too tired. Sometimes he just refuses to read.

Reading seems to be a delicate balance. Children are individuals and have a different pace. My top tip to parents starting on their journey to reading with their child is don’t get sucked into any competitive parenting.

It doesn’t matter that another child is reading several books a week and your child only wants to read every other day. Reading should be a joy not a chore. Go with what suits your child. They all get there in the end.

That said, practice does make a difference. It’s a balance that can feel tricky at first, it gets easier. Promise.

Ladybird have a useful website where these books can be found. There is further advice at Ladybird Read It Yourself

Disclosure: We selected Harry and the Dinosaurs and we were sent these books to review. Words and opinions are my own.

All words and opinions are my own.How have you found your child’s reading journey?


  1. judithkingston

    We’ve just discovered Harry, he’s pretty great. I always wonder whether it was based on an actual little boy – the concept of dinosaurs in a bucket seems too random to be made up.

  2. Pingback: The Best of World Book Day in Blogs | Tots 100

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