School of Monsters series, by Sally Rippin & Chris Kennett
This fun and colourful series for kids just embarking on the process of learning to read has really captured the attention of both Mr 4 and Mr 6 in my household. They are both drawn to stories that are spooky in a fun way. Mr 6 enjoys reading the School of Monsters books aloud to Mr 4, so that both of them are engaged in the process of reading and sharing story.
And this is what makes this series unique - the books are perfect for kids who are just starting to show an interest in reading (but can't read independently quite yet) and also for kids who are beginning to learn to read by themselves. They are designed not only to help kids learn to read, but to inspire kids to love losing themselves in a great story. There is a definite gap in the kid lit market for books like these and I suspect many parents are cheering the arrival of the School of Monsters in bookstores.
Mr 4 asks me to read 'Pete's Big Feet' and 'Hairy Sam Loves Bread and Jam' almost every night - he has become familiar enough with the stories now that he can say most of the words along with me ( I always pause at the last highlighted word of each sentence so that he can say it himself and feel like he is 'helping' me read). The large text font and short sentences are perfect for new readers who may feel daunted by blocks of text.
The stories themselves are fast-paced and engaging, and I love that they explore themes of inclusion and kindness. Mr 4 and I enjoy cheering Pete on as he manages to save the day by using his super big feet, and laughing with Hairy Sam as he comes up with a creative way to clean up his mess. I feel that the enjoyment of story must come first in the process of learning to read - and these stories succeed in keeping young readers captivated and caring about what happens to these very cute monster protagonists!
The illustrations are truly delightful and such a big hit with my kids - the monster characters portrayed in such an endearing way, and the vibrant colours designed to capture the attention of young readers. There is so much warmth and humour in these colourful and expressive illustrations, which work perfectly with the narrative to tell stories of fun and friendship.
At the back of each book are new words to learn, advice for adults on how to use these books with children, and even step-by-step drawing lessons if little readers want to try their hand at drawing the monster characters themselves.
We are now on a mission to collect all the books in this series!
Published by Hardie Grant Children's Publishing