'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 15 August 2014

Speechie's Couch: Connecting struggling readers with story

Whether it is on the big screen or between the pages of a book, the love of a good story seems to be built into the human DNA. So what happens when written stories are hard to access? What happens if even the most simple words and sentences are excruciating to decode?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that thirty percent of Australian adults do not have sufficient literacy skills for their every day needs: thirty per cent. For almost a third of our adult population, reading a book is not going to happen. For them, just filling out forms is a challenge.

I guess this is why I am so passionate about finding easy-to-read tales for young and struggling readers. It only takes one book to build a hunger for more.

When I work on reading and writing with older students, it is always a challenge to find an age-appropriate book that is easy to read. Do you know of easy-read tales for teenagers that contain a minimum of multisyllabic words and limit the number of unusual spelling patterns?

I am always grateful for titles to add to my list, so please feel free to let me know about your favourites.

Below are a few titles that I treasure: stories with issues and themes for students who are twelve years or older, but with content (vocab and sentence structure) easy enough for eight year olds.

  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Di Camillo (Candlewick Press, 2000) 
  • The David Mortimer Baxter Series by Karen Tayleur (Black Dog Books, 2004)
  • A Ghost in My Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang h
  • The Keeper Series by Rosanne Hawke (UQP, reprinted 2013)
  • The Legends Series by Michael Panckridge (Black Dog Books, 2003)
  • The Lightning Strikes Series: assorted stand-alone tales (Walker Books, from 2007)
  • Star Jumps and Note on the Door by Lorraine Marwood (Walker Books, 2009, 2011)
  • The Swashbuckler Series by James Maloney (UQP, reprinted in 2011)
  • The Walk Right in Detective Agency Series by Moya Simmons (Walker Books, 2009)
  • Samurai Kids series by Sandy Fussell (Walker Books, from 2008)

Jo Burnell is KBR's Development Editor and resident paediatric speech pathologist. A reviewer of children’s and YA books and shortlisting judge for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year, Jo is familiar with effective writing for Upper Primary and Secondary students.