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Should I make DD read more challenging books?

(62 Posts)
Campaspe Mon 09-Nov-15 19:29:02

First, the good news. DD, in Y4, loves reading and is good at it. She loves Wimpy Kid, David Walliams, Dork Diaries, Tom Gates, the Beano etc. However, she was told today not to read David Walliams in school and to challenge herself by reading books without pictures. The teacher specifically suggested Michael Morpurgo and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I'm a bit concerned now that all DD reads is this really modern, light stuff, which is great fun, but maybe not developing her skills given that it's all she reads? On the other hand, I don't want to put her off books given that she loves them and I have to admit that I wasn't reading 19C classics at 9.

How concerned should I be and how much should I try to control her reading? I tried to insist on THe Borrowers tonight, but DD found the language difficult and didn't like it. What books might bridge the gap between the likes of Wimpy Kid and more challenging fare? Thanks

lljkk Mon 09-Nov-15 19:33:20

Jacqueline Wilson. Emotive storylines. And cool with her buds.
EB White.
Jane Blonde
Sprite Sisters
Artemis Fowl.
Calvin & Hobbies. Honest, lots of good vocab.

iwantavuvezela Mon 09-Nov-15 19:33:49

My DD is same age, reads similar and same type of books. She is very drawn to illustrations, and loves these types of books more. I am happy that she is reading, and I read to her and try to read more difficult books (no pictures, something she might find harder). I do not want to put her off reading, I see it as something to enjoy, and want her to read for pleasure and through this get better at it.
However some of the Astrid Lindgren books are easier to read, obviously the Ronald Dahl books, mr gum, and we loved the vArjack series.

lljkk Mon 09-Nov-15 19:33:55

Jeremy Strong & Roald Dahl, too.

Campaspe Mon 09-Nov-15 19:46:11

Thank you for these suggestions. She likes some of the Jacqueline Wilson books but aren't the likes of Jeremy Strong and Mr Gum books too "easy" (not sure if that's the exact word I'm looking for). Until DD said this, I was just pleased she was reading, but I don't want to hold her back by not encouraging more stuff. So difficult to know what to do for the best!

Etrusca Mon 09-Nov-15 19:56:02

Try Millie Slavidou - The Olympias Clue. Or Dragon's Rock by the same author (my DD liked this one best). It has got modern pictures (instagram style, I think), but the language can be quite challenging.

Etrusca Mon 09-Nov-15 19:57:17

Although, personally, I think that the main point is to keep them reading, and what does it matter if she prefers Walliams!

MimsyBorogroves Mon 09-Nov-15 20:08:33

Anne of Green Gables?

At this point, I'd let her pick what she is comfortable with, but gently suggest others too. Trip to the library perhaps and look at covers and blurbs. I would say Walliams is a step further on than Wimpy Kid etc.

fuzzpig Mon 09-Nov-15 20:19:23

The main thing for me is not to push so hard that it backfires. Not saying you're doing that obviously just saying my experience: I was a very early reader so expectations were high. I didn't always understand what I read though (I have processing issues, but I masked them very well so they weren't picked up on) and so when I was pushed to read the proper classics, I just felt rubbish that I didn't understand it (even though I could read it easily), so retreated back to books that were way too easy. I think if I'd found the middle ground - books that were just a little more challenging, rather than really really hard - I'd have fared better. So I think your 'bridging the gap' idea is a good one. smile

BIWI Mon 09-Nov-15 20:24:33

Please, please, please don't push your DD to read anything because she 'should'!

I hate the introduction of 'literacy hour' or the whole ethos that children had to read a certain amount every day. It killed any interest my boys had in doing any reading. It became a huge chore, and something that became work rather than something that was done for pure enjoyment.

If she's a capable reader, then let her read whatever she wants.

I would suggest, though, that you have regular trips to the library, so that she can choose other books to read - let her have her way and explore the vast numbers of opportunities available to her. Any reading is good, but giving her the opportunity to read other authors will also help.

I was a very early reader (was reading Famous Five books at the age of 3), and I loved anything Enid Blyton. Widely derided as a poor author. But it inculcated in me a huge love for reading, such that I have been a constant reader ever since.

Oh, and ended up with A- and S-levels in English as well as an A-level in English Literature, and a degree in Literature as well.

IAmAPaleontologist Mon 09-Nov-15 20:25:33

What's wrong with illustrations?

I'm reading this beautiful set of Alice in Wonderland books with dd (nearly 7) at the moment, they have all the original illustrations. We are starting to work our way through a lot of the classics but I'm always on the look out for versions with illustrations because I want to build up a beautiful collection for her.

Different children like different things. Dd loves to snuggle up and listen to the likes of Heidi and once she has had a longer book like that read to her then she will happily pick it up and read it herself. On the other hand ds1 is approaching age 9 and has taken far longer to get in to books and isn't at all fussed about any classics. Left to his own devices he reads horrible histories, he likes his facts. I don't care so long as he reads. He's turning in to quite a fan of things like Pratchett, Gaiman, Pullman etc these days though. We'll read them together and sometimes I catch him reading ahead grin. We're on Harry Potter now. The Secret Garden and company are not better jsut because they are older, let your dd's interests guide her reading, being forced to read stuff she doesn't like will only put her off.

tootsietoo Mon 09-Nov-15 20:29:07

V. useful thread, my DD1 is exactly the same. Yr 4, good reader, likes all those books you've mentioned.

I do think that they are all very different and we should pretty much let them read what they want to read. DD1 is very black and white, not particularly into stories and reads a lot of non-fiction. She often doesn't seem to get the emotional or human side of stories, whereas DD2 is ready for much more challenging/mature storylines, even though her reading ability is not quite up to it.

One book which has gone down very well recently is Flambards - an old 1960s "pony girl" book. A proper story, but written quite clearly, and only a small amount of old fashioned language and values. Other than that I can't really recommend anything beyond what the others have mentioned, apart from perhaps a few more fact books if she is that way inclined?

I agree with fuzz pig that there's not much point in reading stories you're not ready for. I also read well at a young age and remember reading quite a few things that my mother was pleased to tell everyone I had read (e.g. Lord of the Rings) but which I didn't understand at all!

evenoldergregg Mon 09-Nov-15 20:29:28

The butterfly lion by Michael Morpurgo is a beautifully written book and impossible to put down! Would also recommend The Chronicles of Narnia and Little House on the Prairie.

fuzzpig Mon 09-Nov-15 20:46:45

I love illustrated books. I usually get a nicely illustrated 'gift edition' type thing for my DCs at Christmas. In fact this year I've got DD the complete Narnia all in one volume, it's gorgeous.

DD is 8 and just like I was - she could comfortably read anything you put in front of her, but she won't necessarily understand it. She also told me that she really struggles without colour pictures. She says it hurts her brain to have to imagine the characters at the same time as reading. It can be quite hard to find books that are challenging with colour pictures.

Dungandbother Mon 09-Nov-15 20:55:50

I am a prolific reader. I have spent far too long worrying my DD isn't interested enough in reading compared to me.

She's now 8.5. I have finally accepted after much anxiety, she is a 'gifted' reader just like me. She can read incredibly well. She read a sign with the word Venerable. Pronounced correctly, no idea of the meaning. I often use tricky long words in speech and she now asks what it means when not sure.

Back to the point....
She could read many books, classics etc. She won't!

I didn't read Borrowers till secondary school as a txt book.
I read Anne of GG at about 12, Secret Garden at 13, Lord of Rings at 14.

I loved everything but LoR which I finished but struggled. I read it again at 20 something and it was enjoyable.

I don't understand teachers obsession with Morpurgo. DD agrees with me, sad and mournful stories that don't make you feel good. She hates them.
DD teacher hates J Wilson hmm, but so does DD.

She loved 101 Dalmations, My naughty little sister and Mrs Pepperpot. And Milly MM. There is lots of language in these to stretch her, words and sentence structure long out of use, things like Opulent Marble, Parlour or Staffordshire that we discuss.

So back to my rambling point.... Variety yes. Classics not yet or only if she's interested.

JasperDamerel Mon 09-Nov-15 20:58:32

DD has just turned 9, and finds classics a bit too much to read alone, so I tend to read them to her. Over the past couple of years the Secret Garden, Ballet Shoes, White Boots and The Railway Children have been the biggest hits.

If she hasn't read Harry Potter, that's the obvious one to go with next.

For more classic books to read alone, a Rumen Godden is great. The Story of Holly and Ivy is lovely as a Christmas read.

At the moment, DD is devouring anything by Kate Saunders and Jaqueline Wilson. A great alternative to the Beano is the Phoenix - they will be launching a serial by Philip Pullman to celebrate the 200th issue.

I stay pretty relaxed. DD is reading pretty much the same books aged 9 as she was aged 7, but she is getting more out of each one these days. Everyone I know who studied literature has a huge collection of really trashy novels - it's part of being a bookworm and loving reading.

Dungandbother Mon 09-Nov-15 21:00:00

Oh and when I say prolific reader, I devoured books.

Apparently so I learn in adulthood, often children who read (like I did) this much are using it as an escape of family life or stress. I was told this by a psychologist but have no back up. Sorry.

So in a way, I'm glad DD chooses family time over reading! I chose reading.

Jeffjefftyjeff Mon 09-Nov-15 21:08:14

OP, I could have written your thread about my ds so thank you for starting it! I also don't want to force things as he loves reading so much atm. Going to the library helps as they often run out of all the popular books so he has to choose something different. Also I leave newspapers/ recipe books lying around and he reads bits of them at breakfast.

Bunnyjo Mon 09-Nov-15 21:17:50

My DD is 8 and also in Year 4. She adores David Walliams' books and I think they're excellent; light hearted and funny - perfect for inspiring a love of reading. I'm not entirely sure why the teacher has such a problem with them confused

If you're looking for more suggestions, my DD loves Roald Dahl and has read a few Michael Morpugo books - The Nine Lives of Montezuma and The Beautiful Lion were real hits.

I would urge caution with Jacqueline Wilson books as some cover some quite teenage topics; the one that springs to mind is My Sister Jodie - definitely not suitable reading for my DD, in my opinion!

BIWI Mon 09-Nov-15 21:20:15

often children who read (like I did) this much are using it as an escape of family life or stress

Where on earth did this come from?! No escape for me - had a lovely family life!

irvine101 Mon 09-Nov-15 22:04:32

My ds loves those books too, so reads them all the time for pleasure.
To make up for it, he reads different kind of books for reading homework(20 mins daily) to me.

Also he does reading comp. website. It's very short, and interesting topics, so he doesn't mind doing it for 5 ~ 10 mins. everyday.

Notcontent Mon 09-Nov-15 22:10:32

I would just encourage her to read lots of different books - maybe take her to the library or a good book shop if you can afford to buy her books.

My dd loves reading (year 5) and has read lots of the currently popular books, but she has also read lots of books that are considered "classics" - some she has loved, some she has found boring.

By the way, while Michael Morpurgo is a great writer, there are lots of contemporary writers for children who are just as good. And yes, his books can be rather depressing. My dd has read a few, but has also now decided she finds them too sad!!!

Etrusca Tue 10-Nov-15 06:47:26

My children didn't get on with Morpurgo books at all. They simply didn't enjoy them. Too sad, too depressing for them. All it means is that we all have different tastes: his work does not suit theirs. They don't like Lauren Child's Clarice Bean books either, but I know other children who have loved them.

My ds likes Walliams, and he has just discovered Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine books, which I remember reading as a child too. My dd, who is 9 and a confident reader, is reading Millie Slavidou. She is not interested in Lone Pine.

I discovered the books for dd on Jump Magazine, that a MNer linked to on another thread a while ago - they have a lot of interesting articles, on all sorts of topics and it's free. Maybe your dd would like it: it will keep her reading, and she can pick and choose the articles she is interested in.

cashewnutty Tue 10-Nov-15 06:54:40

My DD's loved the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket books. DD2 loved Michael Morpurgo books but maybe he isn't for everyone.

toptomatoes Tue 10-Nov-15 06:57:54

DS is the same age and loves all of the books you mentioned. He tends to read something light before bed and has another book that he reads to us/we read to him/he uses as school reading book. He has just finished the last how to train your dragon book, we've read a few Michael morpugos, we started the hobbit but he didn't get into it. I'm investigating what we should try next.

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