Our family have a love of books. Factual, fictional, we all read or are read to every day. It’s part of each one of us; it forms the core of who we are. So when I was contacted by Oxford University Publishing to review their new ranges of reading and activity books for children I jumped at the chance!
There are two ranges – Read with Oxford and Progress with Oxford – which are underlined by Read with Oxford Stages. The idea is that these books will support a child’s reading journey at home with clear progression, step by step stages and online advice and resources. The books are designed to provide this progression and support in a fun way, rather than feeling like yet another chore to add to an already overburdened list.
For this review Oxford University Press kindly gifted us a set of books. More specifically, they gifted Munch a set of books. Before they sent us anything though, Munch and I filled out a really quick and simple online quiz to determine his stage. His reading level fits their Stage 5 band, but when liaising with them I mentioned that I feel that he needs a little help with his reading stamina and confidence, so we were sent some Stage 4 books too. I was really pleased about this, it seemed that from the word go the team knew exactly how to encourage progression in a gentle and stimulating manner.
The book that caught his eye first was Julia Donaldson’s Songbirds Phonics Activity Book. Part of the Progress with Oxford range, and bursting with puzzles, colouring and more this was right up Munch’s street. Immediately he caught on to the idea of getting a sticker for each completed page and he whizzed through this book with aplomb! There was no particular order to how he approached these pages (although the ones with additional stickers did receive early attention) and why should there be? That is surely the point of being encouraging without being pushy. That he can dive in and enjoy himself. The I Spy pages and word searches proved to be a particular hit.
The book that he moved on to next was The Frog Prince and other tales. As part of the Read with Oxford range, this book has four traditional stories, and encouragement at the end to make up your own. I enjoyed this collection too. The guidance for parents was clear, gentle and helpful. The text was exactly what you’d expect for this level and the illustrations were eye catching in an understated manner.
The same can be said of the final two books that we were sent, also part of the Read with Oxford range. Cosmo for Captain was a Stage 5 book with chapters incorporated. The feeling of accomplishment whilst reading a chapter book was clear to see, without the daunting nature of trying to work through a novella. The Bigfoot Mystery and Other Stories followed the adventures of Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy the dog. Much loved characters by some I confess that I am not a particular fan of this foursome. Nonetheless the stories were entertaining and Munch enjoyed them, which is all that matters!
Alongside these series, and really valuable in cementing reading skills further, Oxford University Press offer a website, Oxford Owl. It gives advice on how children learn to read, along with explaining what your child will be covering in the National Curriculum. An ideal tool to bridge the knowledge between school and home where literacy is concerned, this service can be used by parents and teachers alike. The ‘At Home’ section is packed with an abundance of free and fun resources for your little ones like games, storyteller videos (with Julia Donaldson reading her work, much to the delight of my boys) and even a free eBook library! For parents, I found the section on struggling readers particularly interesting.
Overall I think that the books that we have been sent will fast become regular additions to the selection chosen by Munch to read and reread. I am sure that the website will continue to be popular too, I know I shall dip in to it for advice over the coming years!
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Please note that I was sent these books for review purposes. All opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure page.