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Oxford Reading Tree: Stage 3: Snapdragons The Singing Bird - Monica Hughes Our little one is learning to read and is coming on leaps and bounds. We have had to get a whole host of different books recently as all she wants to do is read! Recently we have bought a lot of Oxford Reading Tree books which are brilliant for children learning to read as well as those who are a little bit more advanced. They come in many different stages for differing ages and levels. This particular book was given to us by a friend and so is a little more advanced than what our daughter is at, though we have still made use of it through reading together. It is a stage three book and comes as part of a set of six which include; Grandma's Glasses Presents for Baby Melting Snow New Blue Shoes A House for Hedgehog The book is 16 pages long and has reading aids at the front and back to help your child understand what they are reading. The book is simple and is about a king and his bird. It is not the usual type of book which we have found in the Oxford Reading Tree range and so takes on a slightly different form in the story and images. Saying that, though, the story is good and the images are colourful and lovely. Although I said above that it is a little too advanced for our daughter, she is still able to read over half of it alone and picks up certain words form some very subtle repetitiveness in the book. In my opinion, though, children learn more in reading when a book is mixed with words they know and are easy with harder words. Words which this book look at include; happy, everyone, little, lovely Mixed with easier words such as 'up' 'and' and 'lot' etc. My little one really likes this book and is excited when she is able to pick up new words. I think this is also a lovely book and enjoy reading it with my youngster. Fully recommended for early readers.
The Singing Bird is one of our least favourite stage 3 Snapdragon books from the Oxford Reading Tree. That's not to say it isn't any good, it's alright actually, but the story is a bit drab and unappealing to our tastes. This is one of those books that I think only a select few will really get anything much out of to be honest. It's got a slightly different format to the other books in the stage 3 Snapdragon series. The others are all published in an A5 portrait style, while this one is A5 landscape. I think they make little changes here and there purely to make sure that early readers are exposed to a good variety of formats, which I think is important. It teaches children that books come in all different shapes, sizes, formats etc. The story is just of a King who traps a singing bird and then wonders why it doesn't sing. At the end of the story, he releases the bird and it sings again. It isn't actually that obvious that the bird is sad because she's been put in a cage, but that's easily explained by the adult assisting with the reading. With the book being aimed at children of around five years old, it really is an important point to note. The illustrations in this book are well put together, and make use of a variety of really bright and vibrant colours. I think the oriental theme just doesn't appeal to myself or the grandson at all, but perhaps it will do to others. From an objective point of view, I have to appreciate that this book is endeavouring to introduce youngsters to a variety of cultures in a subtle way. I wasn't too keen on the length of the book either, and nor was the grandson. There were a lot of words about nothing, baring in mind this was not a story that particularly grabbed or interested either of us. There are around ten words on each page, with hardly any picture clues to help with tricky words. Neither myself or the grandson particularly enjoyed either the story or the illustrations, but I think others will get a lot out of this. We got this as part of a multipack deal from the Book People but it's also available seperately from places like Amazon for £3.75. I don't recommend it because we didn't like it, but I wouldn't put anyone else off giving it a try if the theme appeals to them.