Reluctant readers are a small group of children who can read but choose not to. Meeting their needs can be extremely challenging, but now Big Cat has a series of books to help this special group of readers ignite their love of reading.
Big Cat has always striven to provide readers with interesting books covering all topics. Each book in the Big Cat range has been carefully researched and written to ensure that children are introduced to new and interesting vocabulary; topics that they may not otherwise encounter; and stories that are new, well-known, from the UK and further afield. Furthermore, the use of the Book Banding system means that children are guided through their reading journey by gradually increasing the number of words and the complexity of the sentence and text structure in a systematic and scaffolded manner. The addition of the Shinoy and the Chaos Crew series means that there are now even more books to help you meet the interests of your class and most specifically your reluctant readers.
Research shows that many reluctant readers are put off by the look and style of traditional reading scheme books. Yet, these same children are often avid readers of comics, magazines, e-books and graphic novels out of school. The Shinoy and the Chaos Crew series taps into these other literacies to create a genuinely engaging series of reading books. The cover graphics and illustrations are reminiscent of manga and superhero comics. Within the books, the typography is often changed to reflect meaning and the glossy colour illustrations are suggestive of a UK setting but with a hint of belonging to a comic book universe where out-of-the-ordinary events are part of the every day. Throughout the series, readers will find comic book picture frames, thought bubbles and pop-out images to support the narrative told through the text. All of this ensures that the books are very visually appealing. But, unlike many of the ‘out of school’ choices children may make, you have the assurance that they are written to the high standards of the Big Cat programme.
Finding one book to hook a reluctant reader is hard. Finding the subsequent books to keep them reading is even harder. This is why books by the same author and books in series work so well. They give a sense of security to reluctant readers that they’re going to find what they like and that they can trust the author and illustrator to deliver. This sense of familiarity and security is just what Shinoy and the Chaos Crew offers young readers. All of the books are written by Chris Callaghan and illustrated by Amit Tayal and they all feature a young hero, Shinoy, who solves exciting problems with the help of his superhero friends, the Chaos Crew. The books share common cover artwork and graphics that make them instantly recognisable and while clearly part of the Big Cat programme, they look very much like the ‘real books’ that you will have in your classroom library.
There’s nothing like browsing through a bookshop to find the next book you want to read. If we’re to encourage our most reluctant readers to take up the reading habit, we need to offer them the chance to browse and choose their next book, also. This is why choice is built into the Shinoy and the Chaos Crew series. Each story stands alone, meaning children can select which book to read next within their band without fear of missing any important plot developments. This flexibility also means children can choose their next book based on their preferences for particular members of the Chaos Crew or the theme of the book.
Children’s book choices, like ours, are frequently informed by their interests. Big Cat’s extensive catalogue of books already covers a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and with the addition of Shinoy and the Chaos Crew now includes a set of comic book-inspired superheroes. Not only that, the series draws on the modern world by embedding mobile phones, tablets and game levels into each story both incidentally and as part of the main plot.
Not only do many readers like books that reflect their interests, they also like to read books with characters they relate to, be that shared aspirations, shared interests, shared heritage or shared lifestyle. They also often like characters they can aspire to emulate. Shinoy himself is a mixed-heritage 10-year-old who likes science, science fiction, playing video games and watching his favourite superheroes, the Chaos Crew, on television. Like the best fictional characters, he has more than one dimension so that he is both brave and intelligent but prone to bickering with his older sister. He’s a fictional role model who manages to behave realistically.
The Shinoy and the Chaos Crew series has been written to engage the most reluctant readers in your class. This does not mean its appeal is limited to these children. As part of the Big Cat programme, the Shinoy and the Chaos Crew books are carefully graded to meet the specifications of each band between Purple and Lime bands making them suitable for all readers working at these levels.
To find out more about the Shinoy and the Chaos Crew series visit collins.co.uk/CollinsBigCat
Written by Rachel Clarke
Rachel Clarke works with schools across the UK and beyond to raise standards in literacy. She is the author of several education books published by Collins and writes regular articles for education magazines and websites.