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The Big Orange Book of Beginning Books (Dr. Seuss)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a great book for beginning readers — not only are the pictures engaging in the way that all Seuss-drawn books are, but the words are simple and meant to be either already in the emerging reader’s vocabulary, or on the edge of what they can do. There are great rhymes (which adds to the young reader’s ability to guess at what the words they can’t read must be), and as always, the story flow is great.

There are a total of six books and the only real drawback is that not all of the books are illustrated by Seuss (only I think the first two are both written and illustrated by Seuss, that those are definitely our two favorites (Marvin K. Mooney, Will you Please Go Now! and The Shape of Me and Other Stuff). I think all the books are good, but the collection is definitely worth owning for nothing more than the first two books if you’re a die-hard Seuss fan, or just looking for something that will hold your emerging reader’s interest.

Posted in Children's/Young Adult

The Berenstain Bears: All Aboard (I Can Read Book, Level 1)

Good for ages 4-6

An average “I Can Read Level 1″ book.

Pros:
1. Good for a kid who’s a train lover. They not only are taking a train trip, but also get to tour the train and learn about the various parts/people on a train.
2. Age appropriate, family friend story line.

Cons:
1. As a kid, I liked the Berenstain bears, but now, as a parent and adult, I feel as though there are many better illustrated options out there. They’re illustrated the same way they always have been, but I can tell that my kids aren’t as drawn in by these drawings compared to other books produced under the I Can Read series.
2. The reading level feels a little off to me. It’s definitely not a “My First” level, but it’s borderline Level 2? And some of the words introduced aren’t common words (like “caboose” which is great for this book, probably not going to be useful outside of this book).

Though I’m not disappointed to have bought this book, I think there are definitely better “I Can Read Level 1″ books out there…

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Seed to Plant (National Geographic Readers, Level 1)

4 out of 5 stars

Decent read for 4-6 year olds

Pros:
1. Great pictures, very vivid and will keep even a younger kid’s attention.
2. Nice, basic information on the seed –> plant process with some good vocabulary (germination, pollination)

Cons:
1. Not sure about the appropriate age group here. As a level 1 book, on the one hand, MOST of the words are super basic (seed, plant, etc), but on the other, the more complicated words are like a few levels up (germination, pollination.
2. Similarly, some of the interesting/fun facts are going to be ones that are too basic for a kid who’s already in elementary school, and a bit too left field for a younger kid.

Ultimately, we’re glad we have it in our collection. It’s bright, vivid and educational. The problem is that the target age group is a little hard to pinpoint, and the reading level is not completely level-1-ish (nor is the information)

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Star Wars: The Adventures of Han Solo (Level 2 readers)

Good for 3-7 year olds…
I’m a bit torn on this book.

Pros:
1. If your kid likes Star Wars, your kid will probably like this book.
2. If you kid likes Han Solo, they’re probably love this book.
3. It’s got all the major things you would expect form a Star Wars book (mentions of Chewie, Princess Leia, etc)

Cons:
1. It’s not really helpful in terms of helping your kid learn to read (every like fourth word is proper noun that is useful only in the Star Wars universe).
2. If your kid already likes Star Wars, they’re not really going to learn anything new from this book.

If your kid doesn’t really like to read, but loves Star Wars, this is the book for you. Otherwise, there are other books that are better Star Wars books, as well as books that are better learning to read books. This is for the Star Wars kid who doesn’t otherwise want to read…

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Little Bear (An I Can Read Book)

Our family is split down the middle on this one.

Pros:
1. Cute, completely age-appropriate stories. Little Bear has quite the imagination on him (from going to the moon to making a birthday soup), and Mother Bear is very creative (and caring) in how she handles/teaches Little Bear.
2. As a child, I absolutely adored these stories.
3. A great level-1-ish reading book with great introductory-level vocabulary

Cons:
1. While I LOVED these stories growing up, none of these stories seem to hold my kids’ attention. I think more modern stories (similar reading level) just have a much, MUCH higher ratio of pictures to text. Here, while the pictures are cute, there’s a lot more story to get through.

I think that this will be a great book once my toddlers/kids are older, but there are other “I Can Read” books that hold my kids’ attention much better (from Digger the Dinosaur, which I’m less of a fan of, to Pete the Cat and Wild Kratts). I still love it, I just think that my kids are (perhaps unfortunately) used to more pictures per story :(

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Wild Kratts/ Wild Sea Creatures (Step into Reading, Level 2)

Average Level 2/Step into Reading Book…

Pros:
1. If your kid is already a fan of Wild Kratts, I think this is a good addition to your library
2. Simple enough sentences and age-appropriate content

Cons:
1. Illustrations make animals seem a bit like caricatures (the mean, angry shark, etc)
2. Not a lot of in-depth information on any of the animals, odd spread of facts that are conveyed

If you want books on whales and sharks, there are better options, if you want books that are good in terms of reading level, there are also better options. This is basically a book you buy if you a) like Wild Kratts, b) want something really basic/introductory that’s nominally about ocean animals and c) don’t mind that the drawings are very meh.

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Huff and Puff (My First I Can Read book)

Great for 2.5-5-year-olds interested in learning how to read.

Pros:
1. Illustrations are cute
2. Will definitely appeal to your kid if they’re a train-lover
3. Text and story are simple and yet engaging enough to be age-appropriate and encourage your child to start to read along with you

Cons:
1. By its nature, the closeness of the “Huff” and “Puff” names will have you (and sometimes your kid) messing up the roles sometimes

In terms of books that are this level, and are meant to encourage your young one to read, this is the one we’ve had the best luck with. While “Digger the Dinosaur” is cuter in terms of illustrations, this is the story my toddler actually tries to repeat and learn words for… Also, though I (as a parent) like some of the “Biscuit the Dog” books, it’s not something my kids have engaged with.

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Digger the Dinosaur (My First I Can Read)

Great for 2.5-5 year olds
This is a very average “My First I Can Read” book.

Pros:
1. Illustrations are really cute — both of my toddlers are big fans of the cute “Digger” and “Stego” dinosaurs
2. The storyline (clean your room before you can play) is easy to follow and easy for even toddlers and pre-k/kindergarten kids to relate to.
3. The CAPITALIZED words that Digger keeps confusing are good for kids trying to learn to read

Cons:
1. The story just isn’t as well-written as some of the other “My First I Can Read” books
2. For whatever reason, though my kids like the pictures, they don’t really try to read along as much as with other books in this serious (which I count as a serious pitfall… considering the point of these books) — my guess is that there’s just so much dialog that the kids are too busy following the dialog to try to read along?? Though I’m not sure…

Overall, it’s an average entry for this reading level/series. We’re happy we have it, but it’s not the best in terms of encouraging our kids to read more…

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Dinosaur A-Z: For Kids Who Really Love Dinosaurs

Good for ages 2-7 years old

3.5 out of 5 stars

This is one of those solidly middle-of-the-road purchases. If your toddler (or toddler+) really likes dinosaurs, then this is a workhouse A-Z listing of facts, pictures etc about, well, dinosaurs.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (National Geographic Kids)

5 out of 5 stars

Great for 3-6 year olds

If your little one is interested in insects at all, this is a great book to read to them. My 2-year-old daughter, my 4-year-old son, are both enthralled by it: they love the vibrant pictures, the completely age-appropriate facts (and bite-sized, suitable for their short attention span).

The pictures are bright and wonderfully done, there’s nothing that would be at all scary or off-putting, and though you may not make it through the whole book in one sitting, this is definitely one you’ll get your money’s worth out of, going through one small section at a time.

Posted in Children's/Young Adult