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The book 'Shops' is from the Oxford Reading Tree range aimed at young readers learning to read using the phonics system of learning the sounds then building them up into words. My son has now been reading at school for two whole terms, and is getting quite proficient. This book is one we use at home to support that learning.
The books is part of the series by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta featuring the children Biff, Chip and Kipper, and their dog Floppy. In this book, the youngest child Kipper is playing a game of shops with his friends.
This gives the early reader chance to focus on words that feature the sound 'sh', as well as the letters 'i', 'o' and 'a'.
At the start of the book, we are shown 6 words to practice before starting to read. These are 'shop', 'ship', 'shell', 'shed', 'shut' and 'shall'. These are all presented in a nice way to stand out. Each is surrounded by a box, and there are images on the page of a ship, a shell and a pirate hat. My boys know that we read these words together at the start of the story, then we watch out for them while we read the story together.
The book always reminds me of a tongue twister when we start reading it as the first few pages repeat the 'sh' sound a lot in the style of 'she sells sea shells on the sea shore'. I find I have to concentrate quite hard to get it right, so this level 3 book definitely challenges a child.
"I sell shells," she said. "This is a shell shop."
"This is a ship shop," she said. "I sell ships."
The children are playing a really nice game, which is similar to the sorts of games my own children play. There is inclusion shown by having a black child and a child in a wheelchair, and all the children able to join in and play together. The story is a fun one, and my kids enjoy us reading it together. At twice the length of the level one books, and with 5 or 6 word sentences compared to 3 word ones, the child will definitely feel they are making big improvements moving onto this level.
At the end of the book, there is a page which prompts chat about the story. 4 characters from the story are shown with speech bubbles, featuring some open and some closed questions about the story, such as 'Who had a ship shop?' and 'What would you like to sell in a shop?'
The last page features a picture of all the children from the story having a drink and a bun together while sat on the grass. The child is asked to find things in the picture that begin with sh, p, d, b, g and h. I find my 5 year old can do this with prompts, such as I say, a word like Floppy, hat, pan. He can then tell me what letter that word starts with. There is no way he could do it by himself.
There is also another little activity to do, where there are 5 grasshoppers hidden throughout the 20 pages of the story, and they need finding.
Overall, this is a fun read and can be used many times to practice the same sound as the child does not seem to get bored with it. I have noticed my own two love the characters, as does my 6 year old nephew. It seems like fun rather than a chore to work our way through the story, and the learning is almost without their consciousness being involved as they just want to know what happens next.
I bought this series of books as a set from the book people, which contained about 60 books for £25 and was a bargain. The individual books retail on amazon too, but this particular one is £3.40, so I think I got a great bargain there.