As my eldest is finishing up preschool and heading to kindergarten, we are beginning to explore early reading. We have combed the library shelves for easy readers and found many different options. While my son loves the fictional, illustrated early readers that feature recognizable cartoon characters, he also enjoys the DK Readers that we were sent to try out, newly released this summer.
DK’s Early Literacy Program features mainly nonfiction topics (with some current trendy sci-fi like Star Wars) that appeal to the specific age range of the books. Instead of typical illustrations, DK uses crisp, clear photographs on glossy pages to entice children and encourage a love of reading while learning about real life topics.
Charts and diagrams also feature real-life pictures instead of drawings. DK has been publishing early readers since 1988, and started offering this type of early readers 15 years ago. This summer they have introduced a new set of topics, chosen after careful research into the needs and desires of today’s children.
The levels in the DK series are: Level 1: Learning to Read (ages 4-6); Level 2: Beginning to Read (ages 5-7); Level 3: Beginning to Read Alone (ages 7-9) and Level 4: Reading Alone (ages 8-12). The covers of each book feature with high definition photographs of the topic and adorned with touches of metallic gold highlighting the title. Each book has a Glossary and Index, which are great tools to start introducing even at young ages. We received four books, one from each reading level. My newly 5-year-old son definitely fits well with the Level 1 series, but also greatly enjoyed looking through the other books with us.
The Level 1 book was all about sea otters. Each two-page spread has a main topic (swimming, eating, etc.) and one or two sentences about it that use mainly basic words that are easy to sound out. For me, it was a welcome change of pace from Angry Birds, Transformers and Ninja Turtles, the subjects of most of our early readers! My son also seemed to enjoy learning about something while also attempting to use reading skills.
My son’s favorite book was the Level 2 reader titled “Spaceships and Rockets.” It was a perfect fit for him, as he has a great interest in the topic currently. Level 2 introduces formal chapters. Each of the four chapters in this book contains several short paragraphs and a mix of illustrations and figures/diagrams.
We broke up the reading to one chapter per night, and my son could barely contain his excitement to read the next one. Level 3 and 4 readers continue to become more advanced, with additional chapters and more sentences. They also feature different, “fancier” fonts that fit with the subject matter. In addition to the narrative, picture captions and special notes make the books fun to read and allowed us to jump around a bit, keeping my son on his toes and engaged. The topics we received were Knights and Castles (Level 3) and Big Fantastic Earth (Level 4). The Level 4 book was full of information and history, and I found it very interesting to read as an adult and gained some new knowledge in the process (though it is definitely appropriate for the target age range)
DK is an award-winning publisher known for many genres of educational books and has done a great job keeping up with current trends and publishing titles that resonate to today’s youth. With topics ranging from jungle animals to Star Wars to LEGO, I highly recommend checking out these books for your children once they are ready to engage in reading.
DK Readers Series
Available at: Amazon.com and other booksellers
Easy to Read: 4
Quality of Illustrations: 5
Appealed to both boys and girls: 5
Kept my child(ren)’s interest: 4
I would purchase this for my family: Yes
I would purchase this as a gift: Yes
I found information in this book helpful: Yes
Overall rating: 4.5
All ratings on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being highest.
Meet the Reviewer!
Christy Petrak is a systems engineer currently taking a leave of absence to raise her two children, Thomas (5) and Eliza (2). She enjoys spending time with her family, swimming and baking/decorating cupcakes.