The Shining Stars of Short Stories

Short stories are essential when choosing a book for a reluctant reader whether they are confident in reading or not, and often shorter books can provide the stepping stone children need to get to chapter books as they entertain and inspire the reader and leave them longing for more story. Here is a post on some of the shorter books I have enjoyed recently – including a couple that are comic book style and as such have a nice flow when enjoying the details within. All of these titles feature in my school library and have proven to be very popular reads.

The Snow Queen

Retold by Sarah Lowes, Illustrated by Miss Clara, Published by Barefoot Books

With utterly breathtaking illustrations this short story will not disappoint from the front cover and beyond. The back cover boasts that the book has accelerated vocabulary and complex sentence structures to the benefit of confident readers which makes this an ideal book for reluctant yet capable readers who are put off by the size of large books and look for quality text all the same – quite rightly too! The Snow Queen tells of best friends Kay and Gerda, separated when Kay is led astray by the Snow Queen. Gerda refuses to accept that her friend is gone and goes searching for him and the book details her adventures and there successes. With seven chapters that contain double page glossy illustrations which really reflect the energy of the characters and the wintry, magical scenes throughout this book make this a perfect gift this time of year.

Captain Rosalie

Timothee De Fombelle and Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, Published by Walker Books

In this gorgeous little book Rosalie has taken on the role of a spy that has infiltrated the classroom she gets left to spend her days by her mum enroute to work at the munitions factory. Rosalie’s dad is fighting in the war and sends letters home telling those at home of what he has to endure while serving his country which Rosalie’s mum leaves out when reading the letters to Rosalie – a skill Rosalie has not learnt yet. That is something that Rosalie seems to pick up during her time camped in the back of the classroom during other children’s lessons and before long she is able to read single words, phrases and then full sentences. Her curiosity as to what is keeping her father away, what he writes, and what is contained in the most recent letter that her mum has hidden sees Rosalie hunting for and reading the post and discovering the contents for herself and getting an insight into war. Fantastic depth to this story that you would usually get from more then sixty odd pages worth of a book, this story reflects on loss and family, war and discovering the truth in a pacey and engrossing style.

All the Dear Little Animals

Ulf Nilsson and Eva Eriksson, Published by Gecko Press

This little book tells of siblings that entertain themselves one day over the summer holidays by providing funerals to creatures they find have died in their garden, the local area, and even a pet belonging to a school friend. The children treat each of the animals with the respect and dignity they deserve, with poems being written and read during each burial beyond the garden, in an idyllic place. This book references death from the view point of young children making it relatable to the intended audience, and doesn’t come across as sad and depressing, more a celebration of life in all of its beautiful forms and whether reading it helps a child learn the significance of death or it brings comfort to a child who has experienced the death of an animal this book is invaluable in the world of children’s literature.

The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories

Professor Alice Gregory and Christy Kirkpatrick, Illustrated by Eleanor Hardiman, Published by Flying Eye Books

A fantastic collection of short stories that all aim to aid a healthy bedtime routine and peaceful night sleep with the intended audience of younger children who would enjoy sharing these stories at bedtime with an adult as much as choosing to read them alone. The stories inside the book encourage going off to sleep with such titles as The Tree who wanted to stay up late, The Giraffe who liked a bath, and the ever-so tired Snail. When combined with the calming colour scheme used to illustrate the stories this book also features techniques that can be used to relax the muscles and encourage natural sleep this book is a must have beside the bed. I particularly like that within the stories there is an explanation for the importance of a healthy sleep routine and it is put in a way that ensures younger audiences pick up the significance and understand which again nurtures the idea of sleep. This is a great book for those with children struggling to get into a bedtime routine, and also for those looking to ensure continuity each night.

Kai and the Monkey King

Joe Todd Stanton, Published by Flying Eye Books

These iconic ‘Brownstones Mythical Collection’ of books by Joe Stanton are hugely popular with students at the school I work with Arthur and the Golden Rope being used as part of our PoR scheme and being a huge hit with year three students, particularly boys. I recently used another of the titles Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx with an all boys group and they loved it, going from reluctant to excited within the one book as they all have a comic book style layout with an easy to follow storyline which is both adventurous and exciting, ensuring children maintain an interest in the text. Kai is determined to prove that she is just as much an adventurer as her ancestors by trekking through the mountains and releasing the monkey king in order for the pair to team up and defeat a monster. The brilliant illustrations reflect the energy and interest of the scenes perfectly, using vibrant colours and an easy to follow design to the layout on each page. Fans of adventures, myths and those reluctant to read and looking for something unique and energetic will love this title and the others in the series. These books really won’t disappoint.

White Bird

R.J.Palacio and Published by Penguin.

From the author of Wonder comes a heart warming and powerful comic book style story from Julian – known as the boy that was bullying Auggie in Wonder, who tells of the experience and ordeal his grandmother went through hiding from the Nazis in occupied France. Julian’s grandmother was a young Jewish girl when the german forces entered France and required help from others to hide her from them as they hunted for Jews. This story is an inspiring read that really impacts on the reader emotionally as they read this raw, powerful story of one girls bravery and strength as she endures the worst of experiences whilst finding help and sanctuary from the kindness and caring of strangers. A powerful read, this book will have readers gripped as they follow this intense read through, making this an ideal book choice for reluctant yet capable readers as well as children learning about World War.

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