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How to find the next book your kids will want to read.

Bookshops and libraries have shelves stacked full of beautiful books, but which one is right for your reader? Why aren't the book lists and recommendations successful? And why can't your child find a book they want to read? It is because finding the right book can be a challenge; in fact, the question I get asked the most is, 'what should my kids read next?' And the answer is different each time because to choose a book your child will love, you need to understand your child's interests and reading needs. You need to find out what kind of reader you have, as what they might want and need to read could be very different from the mainstream, popular bestsellers. As Betty Rosenburg so perfectly stated 'The first law of reading is never apologise for your reading tastes." ( Reading Advisory Service- Genreflecting). As parents, we can get caught up in what our child should read rather than what our child will want to read. This is key when choosing the right book for your child. The first question to ask is what kind of reader do you have? For example, Are they a prolific reader, or a reader who likes short stories and lots of action? Are they a reader who has to connect with characters to enjoy the book? Or do they think reading is not really for them? I like to call these reading personalities. Over the last 25 years, I have been lucky enough to discuss reading personalities with so many kids, and I have seen the huge difference it can make. Children who can't chose or finish a book or tell me they are not readers with the right book begin to realise that there are books out there for them. But choosing a book is something that needs to be modeled by teachers and parents. It is a skill to practice and refine. At know your kids, I have put together a short quiz that you can take to discover your child's reading personality. Once armed with this knowledge, you will find choosing books much more straightforward. The next question to ask is what genre does my child enjoy? What are their interests? What are their favourite stories (this could be a book or a film.) It could be a sport or that they love animals, or it might be detective stories that hook them in. Then you can use your child's reading personality alongside their favourite genres to find the right book. It narrows down the selection. You can choose books from the right genre with the right length, plot type, and author's style to suit your child's reading needs. I know this can sound a lot -without reading each book, it can be challenging to work out what genre it belongs to or which reading personality it suits. That is why at know your kids, every review has this information, as well as an overview of the story, to help you quickly find the right book for your reader. This seems to be more important during the lockdown than ever as many parents find themselves in the position of having to find new books, not the school or class teacher. Remember, if you can get to Know Your Kids as a reader, you will find the right book and grow readers for life. ​

Dave Pigeon by Swapna Haddow 

Author: Swapna Haddow Reviewed by: Katy Reeve Age range: 6+ Genre: Quirky humour, animal feuds and Tom and Jerry mind games. If you’re a cat and you’ve learnt Pigeonese… (HA HA HA! As if a cat would be smart enough to learn Pigeonese). This must mean if you are a cat and you are able to read this, you have taken a pigeon hostage so that you can trick them into translating the Pigeonese words into Meow. I demand you release the hostage pigeon now. My book contains TOP SECRET ideas that are NONE of a cat’s business. Your child will enjoy Dave Pigeon if they: Revel in slapstick humour, the sense of the ridiculous and wordplay. Like a story with a quirky, likeable main character. Enjoy a fast-moving plot and ever-changing plans. Are building up their reading stamina, as chapters are short and bite-sized. Want a book that has humorous, detailed drawings that bring the story alive A pigeontastic novel featuring the loveable and hilarious duo, Skipper and Dave, who relentlessly plan and scheme to get rid of the mighty Mean Cat. Skipper and Dave are obsessed with concocting ‘epic plans’, where they will do anything to ensure they end up with all the biscuits and Mean Cat’s abode. Dave Pigeon is the plotter and planner who remains resolutely assured of his own brilliance throughout. His lack of awareness, tall stories and sense of high drama adds to the humour and sense of inevitability when the epic plans unravel and things go awry. Skipper is Dave’s friend who is typing the story, despite him just following orders his persistent questioning ensures he comes across as the more switched on pigeon. The illustrations beautifully match the descriptions of Dave and Skipper, which helps to bring these characters alive. In my house we all love Dave, and we are waiting excitedly for his next adventure.

The ultimate guide to Comfy Reading at home.

When growing a reader, you need to let your child get really comfy. Comfy clothes, comfy position and comfy things around them. No one likes to read sitting at a table where it feels like work -if we want children to get lost in a book then the right place to read is important. You need to know your reader and be flexible. Where this takes place might change, some days your child may want to hide away, curl up and get stuck into a good book, others they might want to be sat in hub of it reading away. With a little effort, you can create an appealing and relaxing place that your children will want to spend time in. Here are four simple tips to get you started: 1. Keep it simple. You will need somewhere to store books, seating (such as a bean bag or cosy armchair) blankets and lighting. That’s it. 2. Keep your child in mind. Let your child lead the way as every child will be drawn to a different kind of space. My eldest will often be found lounging on the radiator with a stack of comics in the winter, whereas my daughter likes to hide out in a small den somewhere in the house with a box to keep her props in so she can move it quickly from one place to another. 3. Keep it central. It might be tempting to set up a reading area in a quiet, hidden corner somewhere,  but often the most used book nooks are the ones situated in the busiest areas of the house. My book nook is usually built in the lounge, where everyone hangs out, and I can easily join them for a story. 4. Make it appealing.  Your book nook needs to be attractive, exciting and well looked after.  Updating your book nook every now and again will maintain interest. This might mean adding some new books, swapping a blanket or cushion or changing the layout slightly. I hope you enjoy creating your own, unique Book Nook! I would love to see some photographs or hear your ideas. Click on the link to see 20 Book Nook ideas from

5 reasons your child will read at home.

How can you make your home somewhere where children read? Children copy what they see so you have to let your child see you reading books. This can take some effort as they need to see you reading for pleasure and talking about books on a regular basis (an annual read on your summer holiday won’t suffice!) If reading is part of your life, it will become part of theirs too. Read to your child. Build in 5 or 10 minutes each day to read to your child. Choose a book you both want to read so you can enjoy talking about the characters and making predictions about what might happen next. You can start to get a feel for the books your child really likes, this makes it easier to recommend books and for them to start to trust your book choices. Read books that your child is reading or might like to read. You can then talk to them about characters and bond over favourite scenes. They will begin to see that talking about stories and books is an enjoyable thing to do. Value all the books your child chooses equally, don’t be tempted to only see the classics or challenging texts as worthwhile reads. When you know and respect each other’s tastes, you can trust each other’s recommendations. Listen to audiobooks. If you are on the school run or ferrying children to after-school activities, choose a story to listen to on the way.  This will be something you can enjoy and talk about together. It may also get them interested in particular authors or genres. Create a ‘book nook.’  This should be a quiet, cosy and appealing area of the house designated for reading. It should be somewhere they want to spend time in and a place they relax and unwind with a book

A quick guide to first chapter books.

I An exciting but often tricky stage is when a child is ready to read their first chapter books. To move from reading picture books or books from a reading scheme to reading longer, more developed narratives with more words and fewer pictures needs some thought. Choosing the right book needs careful consideration, so your child feels like an independent and capable reader. Five things to consider when choosing first chapter books: Make sure there is a balance of print and pictures, as too many words to start off with will be overwhelming. The print size may need to be the same or a bit bigger than the reading scheme or picture books your child has been reading. Short chapters are a must and don't be afraid to read paragraphs and pages for your child, as children need to build up reading stamina over time. Asking the question – is it a book my child will enjoy? If they like funny books, then it needs to be funny. If they love animals, then they need to be in the story. Just being a simple chapter book is not enough if we want our children to learn to read and learn to love reading. Look out for a good series as children get confidence from reading about characters they already know and love. Have a look at the recommendations below. Here are some of my favourite first chapter books: The Invincibles - Caryl Hart Magic Tree house - Mary Pope Osborne The Princess Black series - Shannon and Dean Hale Tom Gates Series 13th Storey Tree House collection - Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton Mr Majeika - Henry Carpenter Mango and Bambang Superstar Tapir - Polly Faber Flamingo Hotel series - Alex Milway Bad Guys Series - Aaron Balbey Wigglesbottom Primary Series - Pamala Butchart. Claude Series - Alex.T.Smith Dixie O'Day series - Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy Bad Nana - Sophy Henn Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam - T Corderoy & S Lenton Rabbit and Bear series - J Gough Captain Pug - Laura James Squishy McFluff - Pip Jones

How to get the most out of reading with your child.

Reading at home with your child can make a huge, massive, significant difference. But with our increasingly busy lifestyles it is often the first thing that goes, especially if it isn't a particularly enjoyable experience. As parents, it can be hard to know how to make it fun or what your role is beyond listening to your child read then asking a few questions. But there is so much more you can do to get the most out of this time, and the good news is it isn't going to need lots of your time or resources to make it happen. Here are my 5 top tips: Tip 1 - Context, context, context. Before you open a book, begin by asking yourself questions such as: What do you need to know to understand this text? What vocabulary might be tricky to read? Does my child understand what these words mean? Then you can ask your child questions about the front cover and the blurb on the back to make sure they know the book's context. Finding out what your child already knows makes a significant difference. You can then fill in any gaps and provide knowledge that might be a barrier for your child decoding or understanding the book. Knowing the book's context means your child can have an informed guess if they can't read a word (this is a great reading strategy). Or you might have noticed that sometimes your child can fluently read a few pages but struggles to recall events and has little understanding about what happened. This is because they don't have the life experience or knowledge needed. Your job is to give them this information. Tip 2 - Decide what you want to get from a book. When focused on how a text can further reading skills rather than hearing your child read and asking some questions, you will see more progress. Be clear about how you can maximise learning and enjoyment and decide what you want to get from a book. You could ask yourself some of the following questions: Is it a book your child has been asked to read from school or a free choice? Is your child interested in the book? Is it a book they will get a lot from, or is it a quick read? Is it a comfort read they can read independently and build up independence or develop fluency and stamina? Is it a challenging text where you need to take the lead by reading to your child, reading paragraphs together, discussing the events and vocabulary? Do you need to discuss the characters' feelings and actions? Will your child need to talk events through so it makes sense? Do you need to make links to stories they have read before? Tip 3 - When to read. Make sure your child is reading at the right time of the day for them. When to read is not set in stone. When your child can focus and be receptive will vary from child to child and change over time. If screens are a barrier, it is essential that reading is not directly after screen time. The best time of the day depends on your routines and whether your child is an early riser, up with the joys of spring, or an evening - night owl. We often think about reading as a before-bed activity, but it can be a great start to the day if your child is fresher in the morning or a good straight after school activity with a snack and a drink. A routine where your child reads at a set time each day can help if your child needs to know what is happening and when. Over time, a set reading time can also help eliminate discussion and debate about your child reading with you. And remember if your child is focused, five minutes of reading a day is far more effective and enjoyable than ten minutes of cajoling, bribing and pleading. Stamina builds over time and has to happen at least three to four times a week for your child to make progress. Tip 4 - Finding the right place to read. Again it will differ from child to child and day-to-day as readers must be comfy and content. It needs to be somewhere quiet and away from distractions, such as the TV or siblings playing. Some children like to be sat at a table, others on the sofa or in bed. It doesn't matter as long as reading is a relaxed and positive experience. Building a Reading Den can be a great way to encourage reading and create something exciting and different. Have a look at my blog Comfy Reading for more ideas. Tip 5 - Mix it up A healthy reading diet for your child needs to be led by them, so they enjoy reading. Your job is to provide a range of carefully chosen books based on what your child can read and enjoy and be enthusiastic about their book choices. Sometimes it might be a re-read ( we know how they can love the same book over and over again) or a book their teacher has provided. Also, the library can be an excellent place to take a chance on a book without the cost. I hope you have found these tips useful. I would love to hear how you are getting on reading at home. If you want to find out more please check out the workshops on

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