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My son's have both taken an interest in Superheroes, and I am a firm believer in providing them with ample reading material based on their own interests. Although I home educate my sons, I believe that reading, and literacy is best developed at home for all children, regardless of whether they attend school or not. There is simply no way a school can offer the same joy in reading as curled up beside a loving parent, nor can schools cater to the likes and dislikes of each individual child. At home, we have the chance to make reading magical. Some of my very best memories of childhood are of listening to stories, and I hope my sons will feel the same when they are grown. This book was purchased as a story book for my youngest son, age 3.
This book starts out as a basic introduction to Batman. It tells the reader about Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman, discusses some of the tools and gadgets he uses. My son especially enjoys the pages with Batman's vehicles and the gadgets. The book briefly mentions Lucius Fox, an inventor who makes gadgets for Batman, before moving on to a call from Commissioner Gordon about a crime in progress. The rest of the book is more of a story, although quite short with a quick battle between Batman and the Joker. The illustrations are simple but well drawn, and the Batmobile is especially nice. My son's favourite thing about this book though is simply that Batman is in black. Most of the children's stories show Batman in the traditional blue, but he definitely prefers a darker Batman.
While my son is clearly impressed with the black Batman and the vehicles in this book, it is not read as often as most of these stories. I think this is because the introduction part simply is not as interesting when you have already read it several times. My son is well aware that batman is really Bruce Wayne, lives at Wayne Manor and has a Batcave anyway. He prefers the part where Batman fights with the Joker, but this is very short. At only 32 pages, and with a limited amount of text to suit developing readers, these books are often pushed to fit in a complete story, and with all the introduction, there just isn't room for much of a story here. That said, I am still quite happy to have bought it. I only paid £2 for this from ebay, but new copies with Amazon are still very reasonable at only £2.56. At this price, I am happy enough with a book that is only read a few times a month. He has still enjoyed it, and it adds to our ever growing collection of books he will be able to use when he starts learning to read on his own as well.
As this book was designed for children to read on their own though, I feel some mention of this books suitability for it's intended purpose should be made as well. I Can Read Books were designed as books for children to provide simple, high interest stories that would help boost a child's confidence in reading, and keep reading fun. The series started with truly wonderful stories, like "Little Bear" and "Frog and Toad", both of which are still in print, and would still make a lovely addition to any child's library. The series has however, kept up with the times and continues to produce newer titles geared to match the interests of children today. This book is level two; "Reading With Help". In short, this book should be read with a parent the first the few times, until a child has complete confidence, and then read alone.
The text is large , in a standard font and easy to read, but it does use some white on black text in addition to the standard black on white. These books are built around a common vocabulary, so most of the words used will be familiar, but it is an American vocabulary. Some words, like "apartment" are less likely to be familiar to a British child, but a parent can easily explain this and help out with the odd unfamiliar word. I would have thought words like "Batmobile" and "Batarang" would be a bit much for a new reader as well, but in all honesty my son rarely struggled on the long words like this that connect to something he had enough interest in. That said, this particular book was bought when my oldest was nearly 7 and already a very confident reader. I did use this series as he was learning to read and would recommend these for ages 5 -7 for independent reading. I would also note though, that the large clear text makes it easy for a very young child to follow the words as a parent reads, and I feel this makes reading so much easier when the time comes as the child begins picking out a few familiar words long before they start really reading.
I have wavered a bit about what rating to give this book. On one hand this is a very reasonably priced book that is ideal for developing confidence in a new reader. On the other, the story just isn't as good as most of the books in this series. Considering the price, I do think this is worth adding to a young Batman fan's library, and I feel this would be an excellent addition to a school library. In all honesty, we wouldn't think twice spending £2 £2.50 for a magazine that will only be read once or twice, so I do think this book is good value for money still. I am quite glad I bought it, and in all honesty, if this book were damaged, I would replace it. But I can't recommend it quite as highly as most of the books in this series, which usually have a bit more of a story of to them, and it hasn't been read nearly as often as the others, so I am only giving this 4 stars, but I would class that as a very high 4.