First readers

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
BRAND NEW READERS SERIES: Meet Dinah Dinosaur and Busy Dinah Dinosaur. By B G Hennessy, illustrated by Ana Martin Larranaga. Well Done Worm! By Kathy Caple. Funny Ruby and Silly Ruby. By Catherine Friend, illustrated by Rachel Merriman. Walker Books pound;3.99 each.

Humour can be thin on the ground in books for beginning readers. One of the joys of the Brand New Readers series is that they are fun for children as they practise their new skills.

Although these books are intended for use at home, they would also be useful in reception and Year 1. Each title is actually a folder of four short books about the same child-friendly characters: Worm, Dinah Dinosaur, and Ruby the sheep.

Each book has eight pages, colourfully illustrated, with a short line of text on each. There is enough repetition from page to page to give new readers confidence, and yet - impressively - each book contains a real story with a punchline on the last page. Worm makes himself into different shapes, then tries a bowI and a knot. And then he gets stuck. Help! Ruby the sheep likes being patted by Jane so much that she lcks her. Yuck!

Each book opens with a synopsis of the story, to be read to the child, and includes suggestions on its use. This would make the series an excellent choice to send home in book bags, because it builds confidence in parents as well as their children.

These books are popular with all the new readers I've tried them out on - even those who normally don't want to read for themselves. The size of each book and the limited number of words per page makes them approachable. Even better, children gain so much confidence reading one book that they want to read the rest. You can even download a certificate of achievement from to make children feel really successful.

The illustrations are delightful, and great fun in themselves. The books look and read like real books, rather than parts of a reading scheme.

The only potential problem with using them in the classroom could be that the card slipcases would quickly wear out from the four very thin paperbacks being constantly pushed in and out. One for the sticky-backed plastic?

Susan Young

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