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Read On is what I would consider a Hi- Lo book. that is to say a book with a Hi interest level and a lower reading level. One of the biggest problems when a child is not reading at grade level, is that the books available for them to read are not at appropriate level as far as interests. Hi- Lo books provide books that are interesting to much older readers, but still accessible to those whoa re really struggling with literacy.
The publishers do not give a specific age for this book, but it usually listed under secondary school resources. They do give us a bit more on reading level, telling us this series is designed to help children achieve level 4 in reading - the recommended reading level for children leaving primary school. I believe this book would class as 3B in reading level which is not at all the same as book bands. I would guess this to be closer to a level 12, bookband brown on the Oxford Reading Tree programme - which puts it right about age 8. It does have some factors though that make this easier to read than the average level 12 reading book. The first is that all text is printed in a good sized font, in black ink with double spacing in between lines. The spacing in particularly recommended for children with dyslexia, but I believe it makes reading easier for all children. Another advantage is that the pages are thick enough to prevent text or illustration from another page from bleeding through. Sadly, there are a few pages where the last lines run into a printed background, such as storm clouds, but I have only found one ( with a bolt of lightening) which I feel might be distracting. This is printed on a white page as well, and this does have a slight gloss to allow for the high quality photographic illustration. I did not find this to have any glare myself, under the lighting in my home.
This book is a collection of stories, and they are all quite good if you enjoy stories of the unexplained. Personally , I am very much the skeptic but I found one story very interesting. The story is called the 'Man Who Stepped Into Time. It revolves around a man who went missing without a trace in 1876. Nothing more was hear him for 75 years, then the police were called to the body of a man who had been struck by a car. He was dressed in clothing one would have expected to find 75 years before, and without ID. All he had on him were a few coins from 1876, a bill for the keep of a horse and carriage, and a calling card with the missing man's name. Of course his own wife, and even his child were now dead, but his son's widow identified the police photo as that of her father in law, whom she had never met but seen family photos of. Proof of the supernatural? No - but interesting nonetheless.
My son's favourite was the section on the Bermuda Triangle. He enjoyed this so much I have ordered him two more books on the subject. He also really enjoyed the story of the Mary Celeste, and we spent some time looking up further details online. The story of the Loch Ness Monster hasn't been as much fun for him since he learned the loch was frozen solid in the ice age, meaning nothing could have survived from prehistoric times. This book does not mention that fact. He found Houdini very interesting, and we may very well try another book on this in the future as well. There are also stories about Stonehenge and aliens.
This book is well illustrated with a picture on every page. They type of illustration varies from story to story. The majority of the illustrations are photographs, but in the case of the Mary Celeste, paintings are used. Many of the photos are black and white, as it to be expected from the time period in question. Most are quite good, but one of the Loch Ness monster is terrible. Of course there aren't any brilliant, clear shots of this creature. The story of Houdini uses both photographs and posters for his shows.
My son is age 8, but he does read very well for his age. He found this book very easy, but being a bit lazy at times, he enjoys an easy read. I believe he could read the whole book in about 15 minutes if he had not stopped to ask questions about the stories - wanting to know if everything were really true. We ended up resorting to google quite a bit, so it took much longer. with a purchase price of £5.99, I do feel this is quite dear for a book he can read so quickly. However - it is the 3rd book I have bought in this series and I may very well buy more. The text is short, but we used this as a starting point to find out more about the subjects.
This book is intended for use in the schools, and so it has a very good question and answer section at the back. As a home educator, I find this very useful. It does help teach parts of speech such as noun, verb and adjective. It asks children to examine the evidence and to come to their own conclusions. Of course the evidence here is all slanted a wee bit, you don't read any arguments against these theories, but we had a great time looking up facts and coming up with our own. There are a few spelling words and an exercise in persuasion as well. Considering the additional educational activities, and the fact that my son really loved the book - I can live with the price. I buy hi-lo books because my sons enjoys having some light and easy to read books, but is isn't interested in as many books for his own age level. If I had a child desperately struggling with literacy though, I'm sure I'd pay this price without a second thought for a book an older child or teen can enjoy, that is still easy enough for a child several years behind grade level to enjoy.
I would certainly recommend this book for reluctant readers or those struggling with reading. I think it is brilliant for home education as well. It is expensive, but even so - if your child is interested in the unexplained, this is a very enjoyable book to read, and I do think this book is worth buying, even if they are not home educated or experiencing reading difficulties. I would recommend this for children ages 8 -12 with an average reading ability. I think older children and teens will still enjoy this, but it is very short for a teenager who is reading at grade level or above. I would choose a longer book for a 13 -14 year old who is reading at or above grade level. I would think this would suit children from ages 10+ and even adults with delayed reading skills, but obviously it will depend on how delayed the reading skills are. A ten year old who is 4 years behind will still likely find this too challenging. I also would not recommend this for many children under age 8, even if they do have a very high reading age, simply because I don't feel this would be very interesting to a younger child, but of course there are always some exceptions.