A couple of years ago, my son like many boys his age was a ‘reluctant reader’. Here I explain how his attitude to books and enjoyment of reading vastly improved. If you are concerned about your child’s reading level and trying to improve his attitude to reading, perhaps this series of books might help your child too.
Boys are falling behind when it comes to reading
Research consistently shows boys typically read less thoroughly than girls: they skip parts; take less time to process words and choose books that are too easy. Keith Topping, Professor of Education and Social Research at the University of Dundee concluded recently: ‘What they are doing is not particularly good – and they are lagging behind.’
In the UK a parliamentary commission revealed that 76% of UK schools are concerned about boys’ underachievement in reading, and that the “reading gender gap” is widening.
As a mum, I fully well know that there is always something to worry about…. some of the constant battles in my house are: do a better job of cleaning your teeth; practise your trumpet; get off YouTube and read a book. Do any of these sound familiar?
With my son, it was never a matter of concentration or even ability. He would just always prefer to be doing other things.
As a teacher, I know many of you feel the same. In fact I would say this is possibly why many parents pick up the phone and call me. They worry that although their child runs out of school with a happy smile when the bell goes at 3 30pm, he has a different colour reading book to many of his classmates (see my other article here which explains the Oxford Reading Tree book band system).
And these worries are compounded when siblings are so different. My daughter was the absolute opposite – everywhere we went she took a book (or even three) and I would regularly have to tell her to put the book down and turn her light off at bed time. So obviously I worried when her younger brother was so reluctant to read.
I knew all the things I should do….. My husband and I read with him every night. We’d go to the library and tried the ‘you read a page, I’ll read a page’ approach. But he would only ever do it because he had to (a bit like eating broccoli) and he never enjoyed it. So I was determined to do something about it. I needed to ignite that spark and get him excited about books.
How My Son’s Reading Improved
After some research I bought the Project X Alien Adventures Series by Oxford Owl (the same guys that publish the Biff, Chip and Kipper books). They are science-fiction stories with aliens and shrinking kids with magic watches in outer space.
With titles like ‘Space Vultures’ and ‘The Waythroo Wormhole’, I hoped they would capture his imagination and I saw an instant improvement. He was so into them, literally begging for a few more pages before we had to turn off the light.
I honestly can’t recommend them enough.
My son had actually been having Project X books to read as his school book once a week. But these ‘Alien Adventure’ ones are different. They are about aliens travelling through space. The artwork is amazing too. They are designed for children from Year 2 onwards. So we’re talking about children ages 6 -9 who are trying to make progress with books with chapters. They are ideal if your child is reading at Oxford Reading Tree Level 7 right through to Level 11. The Project X Alien adventures follow Badlaw and his army of robotic krools who are taking over Planet Exis. Nok and his micro friends Max, Ant, Cat and Tiger try to save the day. Most of the books end on a cliff-hanger and I can honestly say that quite often I would succumb and let him start the next book before we turned off the light as I would want to see what happened next too.
They were really successful at helping my son read independently, but even more importantly he wanted to read them. Result!
Recommended Project X book sets to try at home
If you haven’t come across these yet, please do check them out on Amazon. The Series 1 Collection has 31 books and works out to be about 50p a book. The Series 2 Collection has 25 books and is about 80p a book. The series has proved such a massive hit with children that it has now been extended to include even more challenging books, including at Oxford Reading Tree Level 19-20.
It might be the best thing you do today! Good luck.