Learn-to-read Treasure Hunts by Steve Cohen

This book is unfortunately, and ridiculously, out of print but it is sometimes possible to find a good second hand copy for just a couple of pounds. It is a brilliant book for helping to teach young children to read, interesting them in written text and rewarding them for their efforts. This book deserves to be reprinted.

The book contains 50 treasure hunts each with 3 or 4 clues printed on perforated pages ready for you to just tear out and hide around the home. The first clues contain few words with illustrations to aid comprehension and get successively more difficult with more words and fewer picture clues as your child gains confidence in reading. There is a review page at the end of each hunt to revise new words and a sticker sheet to reward your child.

The book is written for a US audience and there are minor lexical changes you might want to make. Also the book mentions items common in many people’s homes, you may find you need to rewrite some items (we don’t have a TV so I would scribble that out and write ‘radio’ for instance).

My daughter absolutely loved these hunts when she was about 4 years old and would often attempt to write her own. I loved that she was learning to read with minimal involvement from me!

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This is the story of Milo, a boy who is bored of the world, who understands nothing and is interested in even less. It is his magical journey through the fantasy lands of Wisdom and Ignorance to find Rhyme and Reason. The Phantom Tollbooth is often compared to The Wizard of Oz but perhaps better compared to Alice in Wonderland in its puns and word play. Very intelligent and very funny, it is regarded as a modern American classic. It was one of my favourite books as a child, I have just finished reading it to my daughter and I still love it. At 7 she didn’t pick up on all the allusions but it just gets better with every re-reading.

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Punctuation Takes a Vacation

Punctuation Takes a Vacation


New From: £3.02 GBP In Stock

The punctuation marks in Mr Wight’s class feel under appreciated and decide to go on holiday (oh, okay, vacation) and the children miss them, but it’s okay because they send postcards and when they return everyone lives happily ever after!

This is a lovely book. It answers the question, ‘What’s the point of punctuation?’. Aiming to build awareness rather than lecture, it leads children to discover for themselves the role of each punctuation mark, with a quick description of their usage at the end. It’s illustrated beautifully.

I find it difficult to give age recommendations for books. My daughter (aged 7) loves it. I (aged mid 30s) love it. It’d be particularly useful for children in years 1-3ish of primary school.

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If the World Were a Village

If the World Were a Village


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There are 6.7 billion people on this planet and when we try to talk about issues affecting people’s lives we can get lost in the numbers. But if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people, it’s easier to understand.  That’s what this book does. It tells us that in this global village:

22 people speak Chinese

20 earn less than 65p a day

13 cannot read or write

only 34 always have enough to eat

25 have a TV in their homes

and much more.

The book looks at issues of education and economics, religion, languages, food distribution and energy use and puts this information in terms that are more easily understood.

An interesting factual book which will provide the basis of many discussions. Aimed at children it is in fact a book for everyone.

I’m recommending this for EFL for the rather flimsy reason that it has some nice uses of the 2nd conditional, it is not aimed at EFL and there is a lot of advanced vocabulary but with some changes it could be a useful, non-Anglo-centric, resource for more advanced conversation classes.

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Classic Myths to Read Aloud:

Classic Myths to Read Aloud


New From: £5.81 GBP In Stock

Why read ancient myths and legends to children? Because our culture refers to them all the time, they’ve inspired artists, poets, novelists, psychiatrists… Because in English we use words and phrases that have come from these stories e.g ‘fury’, ‘adonis’, ‘nemesis’, ‘the midas touch’, ‘the Trojan horse’, ‘the achilles’ heel’, ‘narcissism’, ‘oedipus complex’…Because they are very good stories.

There are lots of collections of Greek and Roman myths for children, you can buy illustrated versions and cartoon versions. You could read adult versions but you might find yourself hastily editing as you read. Or you could get this book which deals rather tastefully with all that sex and death, includes pronunciation guides for certain words within the text and follows each story with an afterword about the roots of English words and their origin in Greek or Latin.

It’s a lovely book.

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference

What difference does a comma make here: ‘Becky walked on, her head a little higher than usual’, ‘Becky walked on her head, a little higher than usual’? Look at the pictures, read the sentence aloud and listen to the difference the comma makes to intonation.

This is a good introduction to punctuation. Intended to raise awareness, it doesn’t list rules or offer exercises, it doesn’t lecture or correct. Each double page spread illustrates a sentence differently punctuated inviting readers to analyse the differences themselves. The pictures are lovely and the differences are often funny. My daughter loves this book.

 Children begin to look at punctuation in year two of primary school. It is also useful for introducing punctuation in EFL teaching.

12 Fabulously Funny Fairy Tale Plays

The English National Curriculum introduces plays in Year 3 but plays are for all ages. If your child is a reluctant reader, plays are a great way to get them reading. Gather friends and family, choose some props, try out some voices and have fun!

The plays in this book are funny, original takes on classic fairy tales. Each play is followed by a teacher’s page which includes some history of the story, draws attention to new vocabulary, gives ideas on discussion topics and writing prompts.

The Read-Aloud Handbook: Jim Trelease

The Read-Aloud Handbook


New From: £8.54 GBP In Stock

When my daughter started to read independently I read to her less and less frequently. She was reading for herself anyway, she was quite happy going to bed with a pile of her favourite books and, to be really honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in her chosen books.

And then I read this.

Jim Trelease has written a well-researched, interesting book about the importance of regularly reading to children of all ages, from birth to…well, as long as you can really, I suppose it might be more difficult when they move out of home (but not impossible!).

Why read to kids? To inculcate a love of books, to give them an educational advantage, to teach vocabulary, empathy, life, the universe and everything.

This is an important book for parents and teachers everywhere.