With so many things going on in our hectic lives how do we wind down and sleep? Here are some ideas drawn from the experience of a light sleeper.
Well it had to happen, our son has read all the Harry Potter books and we’ve been searching for other great book series. In no particular order here are 5 great book series for middle grade to tween readers. (I have omitted Young Adult titles deliberately).
1. Harry Potter Click here
Obvious really. If the first three books don’t grab your child’s attention I guess they don’t like Harry Potter. Stand by also for the comparisons and proclamations of the things not in the films which are better presented in the books. Strangely the shorter books were voted the best by our son, perhaps they were better edited?
2. Percy Jackson Click here
Now you do need to allow your child to settle with the idea that Greek and Roman myths have been ‘borrowed’ and transplanted to the US. (Not my idea of plausible I have to say). Apparently the books are an easy and exciting read with lots of action. I would add that they seem to be easily read in next to no time. Good news for the author and publisher, not such great news for the parents asked to buy the next book in a matter of hours.
3. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Click here
Perhaps a push for middle grade and pretty heavy in volume. We started with The Hobbit and it was very well received. A budding fan is born. I await the film and book comparisons. LOL. Given the length of both that could be some years away.
4. Sean Yeager Adventures Click here
Fast paced, exciting and full of ideas. Our son and several of his friends have been up all hours reading and re-reading books one and two. Be prepared for an explosion of ideas, designs and follow on stories.
5. Bear Grylls Mission: Survival Click here
Apparently these books are non-stop boys own adventures with all the details added in. Useful if you are ever stuck in a jungle and need survival skills. If only there was an episode for commuters and office workers.
6. Artemis Fowl Click here
Technically this is the sixth book series, though I did say ‘after Harry Potter’. We have had a mixed reception with this series. Son loves the action and humour, he’s not so keen on the faeries. Nonetheless a worthy addition to our humble book series list. Lots happens and there are plenty of books in the series.
So there you have it parents, grand parents, aunts, bloggers. We hope you find this list of book series useful when seeking purchases for the children in your life.
As a parent it can be tricky to find great books for your boys to read. You want books to help develop and encourage your child’s reading and you also want books that your child will enjoy and want to finish. We have found this with our own son from the age of 6 to 11. Here is a list of 10 great boys books as voted for by the person who matters – our son – who read them all (and rejected several others). We hope you find this book list useful for the boys in your life.
In no particular order
1. Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo
A boy’s own war-time adventure through the eyes of a horse. Now also a film and play, but apparently the book is the best format of all.
2. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The original and best. If your child likes this book there are plenty more in the series…
3. Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
A Roman adventure and page turner, with lots of suspense and historical references. If you want to inspire learning about Roman life, what better way than to introduce this book?
4. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
Before they managed to massage this story into three films, this book was the best introduction to the world of J R R Tolkien. It is action packed and surprisingly short, unlike the giant saga that followed.
5. Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief by D.M. Jarrett
Non-stop action and mayhem. Like a cross between James Bond and Star Wars or as the reviewers put it ‘a rollercoaster ride’ in book form. It also has a great sequel to follow-up.
6. The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
Another boy’s own story, this time set in World War II England. What would your son do if he discovered a crashed German Bomber complete with machine gun? Action and surprises all the way.
7. Alex Rider Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
One of several great stories from the popular Alex Rider series. An orphaned James Bond like child sent on dangerous missions.
8. 8000 Things You Should Know by Mile Kelly
Our son and his friends were given party gifts of this book after a birthday bash. They were all so immersed in its pages they had to be prised away. This is how all factual books should be presented. (It’s presented like ‘information mapping’ and is highly effective, amusing and addictive.)
A hero in our household, Stephen Biesty is an incredible illustrator and this book is simply breathtaking in it’s detail and layout. For any budding designers or boys who like to take things apart.
10. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The original and best, provided of course you can suspend disbelief about the Greeks not moving to the US. And of course there are plenty more Greek myths elaborated on throughout the series.
Hope you find some great reading in our list to inspire the boys in your life. Above all we hope they have fun reading and developing their curiosity for learning.
Do you remember a time before PC’s, laptops, tablets and computer games? When making a phone call meant using a fixed line device that could only ring and click? Times move on, progress we are told is a good thing. But wait, did anyone ask whether all this technology is helping our children’s learning in their early years?
I have long been concerned about the length of time young eyes and postures spend hunched over controllers, tablets and computers. It seems to me that learning how to write with a pen, draw with a pencil, paint, sculpt, take things apart, make models and, fix bicycles are equally valid skills to learn and develop. To which we can easily add: play sports, read books, swim, run, learn musical instruments, sing, act, imagine, converse, play, explore and so on.
Do we want all our children to end up in offices staring at screens all day every day? Is that a good set of disciplines to be training children as young as 7? I think not. I believe that children can easily learn these skills in a few hours a week when they are ready. Let’s face it they are likely to use many devices at home anyway. And they have a knack of running rings around their parents when they do.
An OECD report published recently ( BBC link ) makes for interesting reading. It suggests that technology is not the panacea to learning that we have often been led to believe. It states that screen time does not help reading skills either. Surely some mistake? Isn’t the internet the ultimate answer to all our questions? Yes. And is it also the ultimate distraction? Smart phones are incredible, but do they encourage better grammar or conversation? Hmm, that’s worth thinking about isn’t it? Are we encouraging short attention spans and instant gratification instead of true childhood development?
My theory is this. Let’s develop our young children’s minds, their physical skills, their social skills and their spirits first and foremost. Let’s keep the tools in their place. As tools, not as primary skills. Technology is a helper it is not the font of imagination, solving the world’s problems or nurturing new talent. It has a place and can help sure, but it does not make the person.
The alternative is that we risk creating a generation of one-dimensional people if we limit their development to how to swipe a screen, search the internet and touch type. What about the myriad other skills and abilities the world needs every minute of every day? Isn’t it more sensible to balance children’s learning and maintain a mixture of practical, theoretical, vocational, factual and technological skills? Of course some children will become gifted programmers and in time many will use computers as tools to support their trades. But which comes first? The human being with the drive and ability to achieve great things or the blinking screen demanding attention every second of every day?
Roald Dahl expressed a similar thought eloquently in his poem Mike Teavee : ‘(TV) rots the sense in the head, it kills imagination dead’. And computers are in my experience every bit as limiting. They are great for the execution of tasks and ideas, but I find they stop creative thought dead in its tracks. Give me a pencil and piece of paper every time. It is the process of writing, reviewing, adjusting and repeating that helps me. Talking things through with another person is better still. I’m sure it uses more neurones and connections. I’m convinced that more lateral thoughts result from conversation and sharing ideas socially.
Seriously though, there has to be a balance don’t you agree? Moderation in all things. Too much screen time really could make Jack and Jill dull boys and girls. And that would be two genuinely missed opportunities.
Five great book reading tips for boys.
Boys can sometimes be reluctant to read books and let’s face it they often have plenty of other distractions. Recent research has shown that regular book reading and progress with reading development are key indicators of success at school. So how can carers and parents encourage boys to read more often and more widely?
Here are some tips to help the boys in your life read more I hope they help.
1. Involve boys in buying (or borrowing) their books
In this way they will feel empowered and given the choice of what they would like to read. Be careful though not to limit their choice too much. Most people like to feel they have a say in their life choices and boys are no different when it comes to books. And by the way, physical books are far more attractive than e-books or worse a computer file (where they can easily pretend to be reading).
2. Indulge their interests (within reason)
If your boy likes reference books about sports cars, go with the flow. It’s worth bearing in mind that any reading can be good reading. Of course there will be some exceptions, but if they love Mutant Alien Zombie Slimebugs from Lincolnshire and the book is a harmless read, where’s the harm? You can always insert a few more traditional choices alongside their apparent favourites.
3. Set regular reading times
A regular time before sleep or early in the morning can work really well. As can ‘dead time’ in a car or while waiting for an out of school class. As a parent I have found that regular slots work best and when my son has a book he really enjoys it is so easy, he simply wants to find out what happens next.
4. Acquire some ‘cool’ books
Peer pressure is a huge factor as your child reader grows up. If their whole school is interested in Harry Potter or a similar high profile title seize the opportunity. They may not like each book just because their friends and rivals do, however it’s another string to your bow in convincing them to read in a soft way. Their motivation being the key point here.
5. Reward regular reading with treats
If all else fails, reward reading minutes with another currency. It may not be money, it could be time spent doing something else they enjoy. To succeed though they must always earn their reward before being allowed to indulge in their laptop, computer games or football (for example). Bribery may not be ideal, but it can work if used sparingly and provided promises are kept on both sides.
Best of luck