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We have a large collection from the "I Can Read" series. My youngest especially loves Spiderman, so we have almost all the Spiderman books in this series. At age four, he is not even close to reading yet, and I don't want to push reading too early but I feel these books still have a lot to offer for this age range. Rather strangely the publisher recommends an age rage of 4-8 for levels 1,2 and 3 in this range. Level three is fairly complex so I can't see many 4 year olds reading these on their own, but that doesn't mean can not enjoy the stories.
I started out buying I Can Read Books for my oldest when he was learning to read. In all honesty, I don't think they can compare with a leveled program like Oxford which very gradually takes a child up a ladder of reading comprehension. But they do provide high interest books that children want to read. They are also very inexpensive to buy and available in such a wide array of topics that you can find something to suit any child's tastes. For the average family, these books would be wonderful to encourage and develop reading at home. I have read about many Americans using these books as their primary means of reading instruction. I wouldn't go that far, I think they are best used as a supplement to a good phonics programme and a good set of levelled readers. I'm sure it is possible to teach a child to read with these, after all many people once taught reading with only a bible. But I personally feel these are best suited as supplementary material, to keep reading fun, and even just as story books.
This was bought for my youngest to be used as a story book now, and a reading book when he is older. Unfortunately, it isn't quite as good as a story book as most. There really isn't any real story to this. instead it is just an introduction to various characters from the Spiderman 3 movie. The illustrations are reasonably good and printed on a very nice gloss paper. My son did really enjoy this the first time we read it, but I'm afraid he quickly grew bored with pictures of various characters and a couple of sentences describing them, especially as he already knows all the characters. This book was read a few times and now remains on the shelf most of the time. At age 7, my oldest zipped through this once, but he is well past this reading stage.
I do think we will get more use out of this when he starts reading. The text is a good size with plenty of spacing and only two sentences on most pages. This book seems to be made up almost entirely of words that the most children who are beginning to read on their own. I have found quite a lot of difference between difficulty level in books in this series, in large part because they only have 4 levels where Oxford has about 14 to cover the same ground. This is one of the easier level two books in this series, with quite a lot of repetition. I believe the most difficult word in the book is "actress", although dangerous is certainly longer but most children have read it it several times before. Because this averages less than two sentences per page of illustration, I also feel it would be easy to guess at the text from the pictures if needed.
I have rated this book down one star simply because it has failed to keep my son's interest as a storybook. I realise that is not the primary purpose of this series, but I feel the stories need to be very good to encourage children to read them over and over as they develop literacy. After all these are meant to be "High interest stories for developing readers". I just do not feel the interest level was high enough. I do want to make clear though, it isn't a bad book and he did get some pleasure from it. It is just that we have so many really wonderful books, this just doesn't quite make the cut.
Still I do think this book will hold some interest for Spiderman fans, and it is certainly a book that will be easy for him to read. While it may not be the most exciting text - it beats most school primers hands down. I would recommend this book for primary school libraries, for home educators and for parents who are working on reading at home with their children. For these purposes I would recommend this for ages 5 - 7 possibly up to 8 in some cases. I'm afraid I can't really recommend this as a story book - there are simply too many better ones out there. It is a reasonable price, Amazon is currently charging £2.28 for this used, with delivery included. But the other books in this series usually sell for £2.49 - £2.89 new, so I would certainly opt for a proper story instead.