Tag Archives: learning to read

Literacy: Simple Children’s Book Review Template

Over the summer it’s been my mission to get my son reading more. Part of that is also getting him to think a little more about what he’s been reading. Asking questions about the story and getting him to write a simple review. It’s the summer, I don’t want him to do anything too taxing, but some gentle critical thinking is a good thing. With that in mind, I’ve put this simple children’s book review template together.

This book review template is incredibly simple and great for emerging readers. My son who admittedly has been a bit slow off the mark when it comes to writing finds it simple to use and it’s really helpful in getting him to focus his thoughts after he’s finished his book.

Completing this Book Review Template would be a lovely activity to do if you get a group of children together and form a junior book club. This way they can easily share their thoughts with the group.

Literacy: Simple Children's Book Review Template

You can download this book review template for free here.

When your child is reviewing a book, the following questions could help them write an interesting and useful review – 

What did you think of the book? Was it funny or sad, exciting or adventurous?

What did you learn from reading this book? 

Where was the book set? What was it about? Was this interesting?

Was this book easy or hard for you, or just right?

Were there pictures in the book? Were there chapters? Did it take you long to read it from start to finish?

Would recommend this book to your friends? If so, why?

Would you read any other books by this author? 

This book review template also asks you to score your book out of 5 and gives you the option to choose a smiley face to sum up your thoughts about the book you’ve read.

As I said, it’s a very simple activity to do with your children which will help to encourage critical thinking about what they’re reading.

If you enjoyed this, you can find more book reviews and book themed selections here.

Three of the Best Stage 5 Biff, Chip and Kipper Books

If you’ve got or had a child in Primary School in the last few years, you’ll know that Biff, Chip and Kipper books play a huge part in teaching them to read. My son has been faithfully bringing home the Oxford Reading Tree, Read with Oxford Biff, Chip and Kipper books for several years now. They’re honestly my favourite books to hear him read to me.

The Biff, Chip and Kipper books by Roderick Hunt are full of adventure; the stories are interesting and exciting, and the action happens all over the world, so you get to explore lots of things when you’re reading. The illustrations by Alex Brychta are brilliant. He has woven a cast of characters into the background of his stories and you’ll see the same ones pop up in all kinds of different guises.

My son is able to read independently now, more or less. We’re at that stage where we are trying to build his confidence in his reading. We also want him to really love reading. We’ve recently got our hands on some of the newer Biff, Chip and Kipper books. They have four stories in each one as well as points for discussion. I’ve squirreled a few them away for our holiday, I know he will love these compact editions, both to read with us and by himself.

Three of the Best Stage 5 Biff, Chip and Kipper Books

I’ve picked three of the latest Stage 5 Biff, Chip and Kipper Books from Read with Oxford. Stage 5 is the “Becoming Independent” stage and is generally aimed at children aged 5-7 years. Stage 5 is ideal for children who are beginning to read independently.

three of the Best Stage 5 Biff, Chip and Kipper Books

The Beehive Fence and Other Stories
In The Beehive Fence, read how Biff overcomes her fear of bees during an African adventure. Join Chip, Wilf and Nadim in A Good Turn on the very first Scout camp where they mean a troop of cub scouts. In What a Journey! Mum and Dad take the family on holiday by train, but the journey isn’t quite what they expect. The last story, The Fair-Haired Samurai find out if Kipper’s Aikido classes come in useful when the magic key takes him on an adventure to Ancient Japan.

Fireball in the Sky and Other Stories
This bumper book contains four fabulous Biff, Chip and Kipper stories. Starting with The Ogres Dinner where the children meet the King of the Ogres and wonder who or what will be for dinner that night! In The Secret Pop Star the children meet a boy band hero and unexpected things happen. In the Fireball in the Sky the children encounter aliens in an unexpected encounter. Lastly, in A Knight in Town the magic key brings an extra person home from an adventure, with hilarious consequences!

The Strange Old House and Other Stories
Join Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy the dog in these four exciting stories. Go on a spooky night-time adventure to The Strange Old House; find out what happens when there’s a Flood! and the family all have to move out – what will the come home to? Discover how Biff and Wilma rescue two imprisoned Princes in the Tower and find out what happens when the magic key goes wrong in Key Trouble!

These bumper books each contain four Biff, Chip and Kipper stories and each costs £10.99. Between each story are discussion points and tips for how to read the stories. They are exactly the kind of books they’re used to reading at school; so it will feel very comfortable and natural for them to read these Biff, Chip and Kipper books. If you’re planning on doing some reading with your stage 5 child over the summer, then these books are a great investment.

To learn more about you can help support your child’s reading, visit the Oxford Owl website.

Three of the Best Stage 5 Biff, Chip and Kipper Books

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Disclosure: We were send a selection of these books for review purposes.

Review: Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set

Dinosaurs are still top of the most favourite things in the whole wide world list according to the small boy. He’s 5 and certainly knows his triceratops from his troodons and I’m keen to encourage this interest as much as I can. I may well have a future paleontologist on my hands here! We were sent the Read and Play Dinosaur Set from Miles Kelly to review and put to the paleontological test.

The Read and Play sets are designed for children aged 5+. There are two themed play sets currently available – Princess and Dinosaur. Each box contains a story book, an activity book, board games and a jigsaw puzzle. The dinosaur set also contained some paper 3D dinosaur models you can easily put together to role play a dino scene in the illustrated box.

Read and Play Dinosaur

The box opens like a pizza box and everything can be packed back inside neatly. There are two side flaps which fold out with Ludo and Draught boards printed on with instructions on how to play.

The small boy was first most interested in folding out the box to create the play scene and then together we made up the 3D models of the dinosaurs and he spent quite a long time playing with them like that – there was a lot of roaring going on! We loved the play scene, there was so much going on and lots for us to talk about, from the dinosaurs having a swim to the volcano erupting in the background.

Read and Play Dinosaur

Over the next few days we got the Read and Play Dinosaur box out and did something different with it each time. One day we’d read the story – Rex Gets a Scare, an engaging story about dinosaur friendship and how everyone is frightened of something. I know this will be a regular bedtime story for a while.

On another day we spent some time doing some of the activities in the Dinosaur Puzzle and Colour book. There are lots of dinosaur themed activities, including a how to draw dinosaurs guide and counting games. It’s aimed at children aged 5+ so it’s all age appropriate and engaging.

Read and Play Dinosaur

It’s so well thought out and beautifully illustrated. If I had to find a fault it is that I’d like the dinosaurs and puzzle counters printed on slightly thicker, more robust card. I know that after a few weeks of playing with the dino models that they will start looking tatty and falling apart, which is a shame.

There are so many different aspects to this set that it would be the perfect thing to pack for a holiday or weekend break. It’s priced at £10 (reduced from £14.99) at the moment on the Miles Kelly website, and I think you get such a lot for your money with this Read and Play Dinosaur set. It’s RoarSome!

For more information about the Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set visit the Miles Kelly website.

Note: We were sent the Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Milestones: Learning to read

I hope you’ll forgive the indulgence, but today marked a bit of a milestone for my boy. He’s in Reception at school and every week he brings a bedtime book home for us to read together. The more able children have been bringing home reading books since September, each week more and more of his classmates were taking home reading books and we wondered when he would be considered ready enough to start reading with us at home (although we’ve been reading to him and with him since before he was born). Today he brought home his first reading books and we couldn’t be more excited for him.

The first thing he wanted to do when he got home from school was to get his books out and read with us, I’m sure this level of enthusiasm won’t last but I love it. He has always enjoyed books and together we devour two, three, four books a night and I’m so pleased for him that he’s taking his first steps towards learning to read with school. 

Learning to read

Reading is such a wonderful gift, being able to lose yourself in a good book does wonders for the soul. By learning to read the boy can visit different universes, different times, different lands. He can travel the world without ever leaving his room. 

When he was Christened we asked that if people wanted to give him a present, that they gave him a copy of their own favourite childhood book, so he’s got a shelf of Roald Dahl books, Harry Potter , Alan Garner books, as well as Rupert Bear to tackle. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but today was half a pixie step towards being an independent reader and I’m glad that he is as excited as I am about that.

As an aside, I know I should probably have been worried about him falling behind his peers, but I knew that he’d get it at some point. My brother didn’t read until he was older than Ben and he’s got a PhD now. They all develop at their own pace, but they usually get there in the end.

Miles Kelly – Learning All About Space

We recently re-decorated the small boy’s bedroom so it resembled a starry night sky. The idea was to gradually add things to it, rockets and astronauts, planets and such like. The small boy loved it and was really keen to find out more about space, he loved looking up at the night sky at the moon and the stars, so with the help of Miles Kelly Publishing we’ve been learning more about space.

Miles Kelly are an independent children’s book publishers based in Essex, founded in 1996 they have published over 400 titles and their books are available all over the world. 

We were sent two of the Miles Kelly space books – The Sticker Playbook Spaceship and the Convertible Spaceship to read and play with.

miles kelly space

The Sticker Playbook Spaceship is a double sided fold out book which is aimed at toddlers. It includes an illustrated short story about a rocket journey into space, as well as learning activities and 50 reusable vinyl stickers.

The fold out book is double sided, with one side telling the story of the space mission and the other side being for the stickers and activities, such as learning about colours and shapes. The playbook is beautifully illustrated, with depictions of the planets which you can recognise as well as funny aliens and spaceships. It’s a fun book, rooted in facts but with an interesting and enjoyable story too. Also it has stickers, any book with stickers is always a winner.

The Convertible Spaceship is perhaps one of the most awesome things the small boy has ever been given. It is essentially the same story and illustrations as the sticker playbook (above) but instead of the other side being activities, the other side is a space rocket design. Following the easy instructions you can quickly convert it from a book into a space rocket which you can sit in!

miles kelly space

Aimed at children aged 3-6 years, this is a fantastic thing full stop (the full price is currently £17.99, but it’s sometimes on special offer). As you can see from the pictures the boy loved it, in fact he filled his rocket with everything he’d need for the afternoon, drinks, snacks, an ipad and a blanket and he just stayed in there playing, occasionally we’d hear a “blast off” countdown and noise, but I don’t think he could be happier.

The story part of the space rocket is on the inside, so while he was in there he was pointing at the pictures and talking about what he could see, as well as spelling out some of the letters and words. It’s the kind of thing which would make a fantastic present, and I know Miles Kelly have a whole range of these convertible books, including fire engines, pirate ships and trains.

We really loved these gorgeous Miles Kelly space books – the boy learned a thing or two, but more importantly enjoyed playing with them and it gave his imagination a workout, which is always good. We are very impressed and we’d recommend these great books, especially the convertible space rocket – what’s not to love?

miles kelly space

Note: We were sent these Miles Kelly Space books free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.