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My eldest daughter who is about to turn 6 is really into reading and I can often find her with her nose in a book trying her hardest to read books that are often too advanced for her! She reads well and I encourage her to read, however the books she tries are often using words which she can’t quite read herself yet. The books which she can read are a little too babyish for her and until she reaches the next level of reading, I’m struggling to find books that she will enjoy but be capable of reading herself. This is when I had a eureka moment and decided to buy her an audio book! That way she can ask to listen to it in the car on long journeys or put it on a CD player at home. She can still continue with her reading but she can also be carried away with stories that she wants to read even if she is not able yet. I did a little research trying to figure out which would be the best books to start her off with and I came across a collection of books by Sally Gardner.
Sally is an award winning writer (for I, Coriander which won the 2005 Smarties Children's Book Prize) and has sold 1 million copies of her books worldwide as well as having them translated into 22 languages. I found Sally’s website and liked the sound of the books and after sneaking a peek inside one of her books on Amazon they sounded perfect for my daughter. I was even more delighted when I realised that a collection of 3 of her stories was available on one audio book and bought it straight away. I paid around £6.50 including postage from Amazon.
The books are probably for mid level readers (around 7+) but as I was buying the audio book this didn’t matter and I was happy when my daughter easily understood the story as it was being read to her.
The audio CD contains The Strongest Girl in the World, The Invisible Boy and The Boy who could Fly and each story is about a child with a special gift. My daughter found this absolutely magical, and given her young age, I would often discover her role playing as one of the characters after she had been listening to the stories.
The Invisible Boy follows Sam who is heartbroken and left in the care of horrible Hilda Hardbottom when his parents become lost in space. Sam discovers an alien called Splodge in a cabbage patch along with a tiny spaceship. Splodge makes Sam invisible and shows Sam how to use his invisibility. This is a very funny story and Splodge is adorable!
The Strongest Girl in the World follows Josie Jenkins, aged eight and three quarters. She surprises everyone (including herself) when she lifts a bus and a car with little effort and becomes famous along the way. Along comes Mr Two Suit who moves her and her family to New York and gives her a contract. The story follows Josie and her fame. This one is my favourite and is a really charming story.
The Boy Who Could Fly follows Thomas Top who is granted a birthday wish by the fat fairy – to fly. His new ability changes his life and leaves his family bewildered as he summersaults in front of them (through the sky!). This story is lovely and my daughters favourite.
The CD’s are narrated in a soft voice which is perfect for bedtime. She loves to have a story read by one of us on an evening before bed and then to listen to this as she falls asleep. I don’t mind this as the stories are read in a nice relaxing way.
Sally Gardner's other stories include Lucy Willow, The Boy with Magic Numbers, The Smallest Girl in the World and The Boy with the Lightning Feet (all ofwhich are also available as audio books).
All in all a lovely audio book which I am happy to let my daughter take herself off and listen to if I’m not able to read her a story. The magical themes really help encourage a child’s imagination and the stories are full of lovely characters with interesting stories to tell!
'All have satisfying stories, scintillatingly crisp sound effects and lively, humour-filled readings' Christina Hardyment – The Times.
CD Run time: 180 minutes.
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