The Janksters and the Talking Slug is the first in a new series of books by writing team Cid and Mo.
You can check out their website by clicking on this link.
Cid and Mo are two, ex teachers, frustrated by how few books there are which are specifically designed to help the children it has been pin pointed we are failing most when it comes to teaching literacy; primary aged boys.
The Janksters series has been created by them to specifically address some of the areas in which we are failing.
There are several issues with getting boys to read; particularly boys who are still struggling when they leave early years and go into Key Stage 2 learning.
One of the main problems we encounter in school is finding books that have a vocabulary that the child can cope with, but which is coupled with material which reflects their changing interests as they grow.
Boys aged seven and up, do not want to be seen with ‘babyish’ books, because peer pressure becomes more of an issue and they, quite rightly, do not want to be teased.
They do not want to read ‘babyish’ books because although their reading age might not have matured along with their regular age, their interests and priorities will have changed and their reading material needs to reflect that in order to hold their interest.
We need to find and promote books which encourage boys to want to read, rather than have them feeling that reading is a punishment or a chore.
The Janksters tries to address these needs on several levels:
- The vocabulary has been designed to be simple enough for a child who is not entirely fluent to read, but also includes words which stretch the child so that it is not too easy.
- The font has been chosen specifically to make letter differentiation clearer and easier to distinguish. Children who are slow to read, and/or who suffer from types of dyslexia can struggle with serif based fonts. Serif fonts are ones which have little ticks and tails on each of the letters. A sans or without serif font makes it much easier to see the difference between the letters, and thus are easier to decipher for children who struggle to read. The Janksters is written in a sans serif font, making it easier for children to decode. The font size is also slightly bigger than that of a regular book.
- Another thing which can cause problems for children who struggle to read is the simple matter of having too many lines of text to a page. It can be hard to concentrate on which line of text you are supposed to be reading, and if the lines are near together, easy to skip from one line of text to another. The Janksters’ series uses less lines to a page, bigger gaps between paragraphs, and clearer spacing between words, all of which will help children to orient themselves on the page.
- Some children find it hard to go from picture books to books which are text based. When they are stuck between early years and more mature level reading, it can help to still include pictures alongside the text. Not too many, as there has to be clear delineation that these are not ‘baby’ books, but enough to make the books pleasurable to read, and break up the monotony of the text. The Janksters is illustrated with a series of black and white photographs which are ‘stuck’ into the book alongside the story.
As well as these textual tricks, Cid and Mo have also looked at the issue of content.
- The Janksters’ series are written to be a humorous exploration of the world that school boys inhabit.
- The heroes of the books are boys readers can look up to and enjoy reading about.
- The world of the book has been written to try to reflect the reality of modern boys and the issues they face.
Cid and Mo are passionate about what they are doing, and their website contains a mine of information, as well as contact details and details of workshops they run in schools.
Cid and Mo sent me a copy of their book to review, and to share with my own son Oscar. The next blog post will be a review of their book.
I must add that I will always declare an interest, if someone has specifically sent me something or asked me to review something. Regardless of this I will only ever post exactly what I think about the item/service in question, so you can be sure that if I say something is good, or bad, then it is my honest opinion.