Sunday, February 14, 2010

Usborne Young Reading

After my last post, I got to thinking about good transitional books and wondering why I don't have more of them. So I dug into my stash of readers, which I have handily sorted into plastic shoebox bins and keep stored on top of a bookcase in my bedroom. In my box labeled "Level 3 Readers & Early Chapter Books" I found a couple Usborne Early Reading books.

These are much like the Stepping Stone Full Color Chapter books, in that they are true chapter books with full-length sentences, but they have brightly colored pictures on every page. They come in two levels -- Series One and Series Two, with the text length in the series two books being a little longer and more complex. There is a Series Three, but the subject matter is definitely for older kids -- not so much transitional.

Most of the titles in either series are remade classics -- books like Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty, as well as The Adventures of King Arthur, Robin Hood, The Prince and the Pauper, The Wind in the Willows, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Phantom of the Opera and so on. There are a few original titles, some informative, like The Story of the Olympics and The Story of Castles, and some original titles like The Incredible Present and Mystery Mansion. The titles in Series One are overwhelmingly fairy tales, while Series Two seems to be mainly classical literature and informational.

Usborne is a British company which publishes a lot of great kids books, and they are particularly well know for their illustrations. These books are no exception -- not great art, but highly colorful and inviting pictures compliment the stories well. They are well suited to their target audience of 6-8 year olds. The example below really highlights what Usborne does so well: provides pictures with a lot going on in them. Kids will enjoy poring over them to pick out details. Not all the books are illustrated like this, but many are.

This is a big series -- the list of titles in the two series numbers well over 100. You can see the full list at Usborne's website, but keep in mind that this site is located in England and some books won't be available here. Amazon and Barnes and Noble have several of these books, but not nearly as many as Usborne actually publishes. I feel fortunate to have stumbled on a couple hard-bound copies at my local used book store. They are wonderful examples of their type and well worth searching out if you have a child who needs a nudge to the next level of reading.

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