Thursday, November 02, 2006

Book review: Big Cat Range

There are broadly two types of children’s books, those you buy in a bookshop and those that turn up in school bags. The later are often part of an approved reading scheme and come from authors you will have never heard of. The production values are often quite low and children and parents read through them because they have been prescribed rather than by choice for enjoyment.

It seems strange that schools continue to purchase books that are so uninspiring when there is a chance to provide an alternative getting some well known children’s authors and illustrators to create books that are well produced, enjoyable and are still aimed at school children learning to read in the confines of the curriculum.

The Collins Education Big Cat range does exactly that with titles for a range of age groups covered by Key Stage 1, written by some of the big names in children’s literature including Michael Morpurgo, Julia Donaldson and Nick Butterworth. Add to the quality content the equally impressive choice of illustrators and the books are the sort of titles that bring the classroom up to date.

Stories are split between fiction and non-fiction so for example there is a history of fire engines through the ages and a look at lights rubbing shoulders with a books about fishy friends and a tale of what happened to Arthur the sheep when he couldn’t sleep. Each comes with teacher notes at the back of the book and clear colour coding to quickly indicate which age group the book is aimed at.

But, putting the authors, illustrators and glossy finish to one side the real benefit of the Big Cat range is that it makes reading much more enjoyable for parents. With more and more of them opting out of bothering with the written word if this helps re-engage some of them then the latest 24 titles to the range should be welcomed by those keen to improve literacy.

See the Collins web site for more details

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