If you haven’t already fallen in love with Usborne Books, you haven’t looked at one! Every book I pick up is quality and faultless. They always have wonderful illustrations and are written in a way to really engage their readers, children and adults alike!
Today, I am going to review a series of books called the Usborne Farmyard Tales. There are 20 titles in this series that are equally engaging. They are all a set of short stories for young beginner readers. These books have been written to help children use phonics to read each word and beautiful pictures to illustrate the stories. To help your child engage in the book, there is a hidden duck on each page which your child can seek out to find, adding a little more fun to their stories.
These books have been cleverly written on two reading levels. The stories are written with simple short sentences at the top of each page. This is ideal for the beginner reader who is not yet ready to read more complex sentences and it also makes the story easy to follow. This allows the reader to focus on the pictures and discuss what it is they see. If they read just the text across the top of the page, the story still makes sense and your child will still have a good insight into the story.
As your child becomes more confident with their reading, they can move onto reading the sentences at the bottom of each page. These sentences provide more detail about the story and they are more complex than the sentences at the top of the page, thus allowing your child to slowly gain confidence in the reading and see their own progress.
So you are able to understand this further, take a look at the image below:
Pig Gets Lost (Farmyard Tales)
All the stories start with, ‘This is Apple Tree Farm’. This helps your child feel comfortable and more familiar with these books. This is from the story ‘Pig Gets Lost’. The above image shows the very first two pages. The first sentence at the top of each page reads, ‘This is Apple Tree Farm. Mrs. Boot has six pigs’. These sentences make sense on their own without having to read the sentences below. When these are read together, they provide more information about the story.
These books provide an excellent opportunity to allow you and your child to read together and turn- take. If your child is a beginner reader, why not let them read the text at the top and you read the lengthier sentences below? If your child is more confident but you still would like to read together, you could reverse the roles.
I absolutely love the way these books have been written. A great deal of thought has gone into the language used and the progress your child could make. Use these books to discuss the stories and ask your child questions which would help them to develop their higher order thinking skills.
[irp posts=”7534″ name=”Teaching our Children to Think”]
I would like to take a deeper look into five of the twenty books in the series so that I can share a little about each story and perhaps help you think about some of the questions you could use with your child when reading these books:
Market Day (Farmyard Tales ) – This colourful book about Mrs. Boot and her children is about their day out to the market where they choose some geese and a duck, but one of the geese manages to get away. Chasing the goose seemed like a lot of fun for the children! This book allows discussion about days out and family trips. The little girl in the story also uses her own money to buy a duck. Perhaps you and your child could talk about what they might buy with their own money and why? Why did the little girl buy the duck? This is a great story which emphasises empathy and family time.
The Runaway Tractor (Farmyard Tales ) – This story begins at the Apple Tree Farm where Ted, the tractor driver, has a bit of an accident with the tractor and crashes into a pond. The children help to find a solution as to how to get the tractor out of the pond. Ted is wet and muddy but they do get the tractor out. This is a wonderful little story about problem solving and team work. Maybe they wouldn’t have been able to help Ted if they didn’t all work together, what would Ted have done if the children hadn’t spotted him? You could ask your child to talk about examples where they have had to work in a team and if they think team work is better than working alone. Again, the illustrations are lovely and really help with discussion and conversation.
Scarecrow’s Secret (Farmyard Tales ) – The children help Mr. Boot, their dad, build a scarecrow. They name him Mr. Straw. Mr. Straw is managing to scare away all the birds but the neighbour’s scarecrow isn’t doing a very good job. Mr. Straw is hiding a secret and the children go to find out what that might be… This book got me thinking about all the odd jobs I have to do around the house, I could really adopt Mr. Boots’ attitude and get the children to really help me out too! You could ask your child why Mr. Straw was able to scare the birds away but the neighbour’s scarecrow was unable to do so? What do they think the secret might be? How do you think you build a scarecrow? And what could the kids in the story have done differently?
The Naughty Sheep (Farmyard Tales ) – Woolly is a very naughty sheep, or is she? She is bored of eating grass and ventures out into Mrs. Boot’s flower garden. She loves the pretty flowers and decides to eat some. Mrs. Boot is not happy as she was going to take some of the flowers to a show. She leaves to go to the show and Woolly follows. Woolly ends up winning a prize and Mrs. Boot is very happy! Not such a naughty sheep after all! This is a warming story about how a bad situation can actually turn into a good one! This is a great opportunity to have a discussion with your child about situations that may have seemed really bad but turned out really well in the end. The story encourages hope and optimism.
Pig Gets Lost (Farmyard Tales) – Back in Apple Tree Farm, Curly the pig, is lost. The family search everywhere and end up finding him in a muddy ditch. In the efforts to get him out, they all end up covered in mud too! There is an emphasis on team work here again and ‘mucking-in’ to help out. You could really discuss with your child how they think the children would have felt when they realised that Curly had gone missing and what they felt each time they thought they had found him, but it was actually something else! The family really care about their animals and this really shows in all the stories. What does your child think about looking after animals and how animals might feel if they are not cared for? Or you could discuss what might happen if your pet cat or dog got lost. What would you do as a family to find them?
As you can see, these books are full of adventures and family-orientated fun! There are many more titles to explore. If you have had the pleasure of reading any of the Farmyard Tales, why not let us know what you thought.
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