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This book was originally purchased for my oldest son. Although I understand many American home educators use this series as their primary resource when teaching children to read, for us it was simply purchased to help build a large library of books that my son could pick up and read himself. I do prefer the Oxford series as well as phonics sets to actually teach reading. But I also believe that the method of reading instruction is not nearly as important as just having a good selection of stories both for parents to read to children and for children to read on their own as they take the first steps to literacy. These books were created with the specific purpose of providing high interest stories for young readers in a format that they could read themselves - hence the title of this series "I Can Read".
This book is level 2, but as this series only has 4 levels to cover very beginning readers to proficient readers, there is quite a lot of variation in reading difficulty. I believe this is one of the more challenging books for this level, with longer words like "projector", "imprisoned", and "Fortress of Solitude". My son read this at age 5- 6, but children all reading is one of those things where you really can not easily predict an age for competence, and children often go in spurts. I would expect any young reader not familiar with Superman to really struggle with words like Metropolis" and of course the aforementioned "Fortress of Solitude". But each page only has two to three sentences, and the difficult words can quickly be learned. I do think parents should read this with most children the first few times and help them with the most difficult words. There are two pages at the front of the book which show each character and a sentence or two about them. This page would help a young reader learn to recognise the names of the characters. There is also a picture with the Phantom Zone. I read this out loud to my oldest when he was learning to read and pointed out the Ph is pronounced as "f". I think a picture and title of the Fortress of Solitude would have been helpful here as well, as solitude was a word my son was unfamiliar with.
I would recommend this for children who are already reading simple stories and know 250 words. I don't feel there is any harm in a child reading books at a lower reading level, and I think this also helps reinforce reading skills. But I would watch for signs of frustration with this book, and if the child is struggling with more than one or two words on each page - it might be best to keep this for parents to read for awhile longer. Ideally, when choosing stories for children to read themselves, you want ones that the child is able to read most of the words, while presenting a couple of new words with each book.
The text in this book is large, black and in a standard easy to read font. Most pages are printed on white, but some are printed on light blue or yellow. Although off white is considered ideal for new readers, this is easy to read. The colours are not distracting, and my son had no difficulty with this. There is no white text in this book.
At the moment though, my oldest son has long outgrown this reading level and moved onto adult graphic novels, and my youngest is far too young to read on his own. This book is used as a bedtime story now, and with my boys having an interest in superheroes, it does get quite a lot of use. I do wish I had bought it when the oldest was much younger now, instead of waiting for him to be old enough to read it. This series is wonderful for providing a wide variety of low cost books for emergent readers, but I think they are just as good as simple story books for bedtime reading. My 3 year really loves this, and I have in fact bought a number of other titles in this series to read aloud for him. This combines a good story and very good illustrations, making it perfect for bedtime reading - or just curling up on the sofa with a stack of books on a rainy day.
The story in this book is based on the old DC comics. I do vaguely remember General Zod and his cohorts escaping from the phantom zone in an old comic book as a child. Batman and Wonder Woman were not part of the story I had though. In this book the three superheroes team up to stop General Zod, Non and Ursa from taking over the earth. Ursa intends to keep humans as pets - an idea my youngest finds very amusing. This book is only 26 pages long, and does have a limited amount of text. This means we do not get a lot of plot development, but there is plenty of action and a real story, however short in this book. In addition to enjoying the story, I am certain this book has helped my son enlarge his vocabulary as well as he asked what a number of words mean.
If your child likes superheroes - then I would recommend this book - no matter how they young they are, as long as a parent will be reading it. I think this would suit a 2 year old very well for a bedtime story. At age 7, my son does still enjoy this once in awhile, but he prefers longer more complex stories. I would buy this for an older child only if they are at the correct stage to read it themselves or at a lower reading level. If they are not able to read it themselves yet, they can enjoy it now and then as a story book until able to tackle this on their own. I really do believe a large selection of books a child can easily read on their own is one of the best things we can do for their education, and this applies to ordinary school children every bit as much as home educated children. If anything, I think a selection of books they really enjoy may be even more important for a child learning to read at school, where they do not get to choose many stories themselves. If they are reading at a much higher level though, I expect they will want longer more complex stories as well. My 7 year old does enjoy this now and then, but I would not buy books like this for him now, as they are apt to be read once or twice and then forgotten about.
This book is available new at Amazon for £2.49 with free delivery. The listing at Amazon also includes their "Look Inside" feature. This means you can read a sample page yourself to see if the reading level seems appropriate, as well as see the illustrations for yourself. I often use this feature with my children to show them the book and make sure it is one they want before wasting my money on it. If your child likes superheroes, and is still reading picture books, or listening to them - this is well worth taking a look at.