D is a very competent reader, but he still enjoys leafing through picture books and reading them. I find that there is a strange moment in time when children are at a sort of in-between stage of picture books and longer novels and I’ve found it hard to find books that D enjoys but also, at the same time, present the right sort of challenge for him. The children, despite their advancing skills in reading, still enjoy being read aloud to, and it’s something that I try to keep alive each day – even if it’s only the bedtime stories.
Over the past few months D and E have been enjoying chapter books at bedtime – and it’s been lovely to read these aloud to them and really get stuck into longer and more complex stories with characters that develop over the duration of the book. One such series of books that they’re both really enjoying is the Unicorn Academy books by Julia Sykes. I’ll be honest and say that when they first arrived I was being a bit of a book snob and wasn’t keen to read these. I did that terrible thing of judging a book by its cover and thought that a Unicorn theme was just riding on the current interest in all things unicorn and that there probably wouldn’t be much substance.
Thankfully D had no such reservations or snobbery and soon started to read these as they arrived, and E soon asked that we read them together at bedtime. So, somewhat reluctantly I started to read them aloud. I have to admit they’re actually quite good and they’re very readable and I can certainly understand how they have capture D and E’s imagination.
Each book takes one character and her Unicorn and they serve as the central character at the Unicorn academy for that particular book. Each book develops the character against the backdrop of the Unicorn Academy and it’s done so in a really good way. There’s all manner of mishaps taking place and adventures await as the girls solve problems along with the help of their Unicorn. I really like this series as the books are a great cross over from picture book to chapter book – the addition of pictures (the books are illustrated by Lucy Truman) helps to keep younger, newer readers engaged. I also really like the range of characters; there’s a really good group within these books and I am sure children will have their own favourites and those that they can readily identify with as they meet them in this series. They all have a range of skills and unique qualities and I like the gentle playfulness between the characters and the development of the relationships. I also like that the ones I have read so far are quite reflective of society and have flaws as well as strengths.
D and E have five of these books and are busy hunting out others from the library (and adding them to their wish lists). Once we have finished reading them aloud I see them reading them to themselves, or D reading them to E. Despite my initial judgements I really do enjoy these books now and In reality, my opinion doesn’t really matter! The children adore this fabulous series and anything that engages children as much as these do has to be good.
You can take a look inside these books on the publisher’s website here.