What do you do when you have a five-year old at a fourth/fifth grade reading level? At the beginning of the summer, I began the long hard task of finding appropriate novels for my daughter to read. We spent a great deal of time and money picking out longer picture books, only to have her read through them on the short car ride home. Chapter books either had a mature (preteen) tone, or did not look visually appealing to our little bookworm. Then I heard about the Disney: Never Girls series. After flipping through reviews to make sure it was age appropriate I let my eager little one go wild to see if it stood up to her scrutiny.
After three solid hours on the couch, laying flat on her stomach with her feet bouncing behind her, she finally came up for air. She had finished the book. Now, many of you might think that 3 hours of reading time is not much bang for your buck, but I see it as worth every penny that she had found a challenge. I waited with bated breath to see if we had finally found a book series to fit her ability and developmental level, that she actually enjoyed reading.
The answer was a resounding yes. She loved it. She did not have one negative word to say about this book. Some things that she liked were the characters, saying “They are real girls who get to go to Neverland!”. She also loved that there are black and white pictures throughout that give small glimpses into the story while still allowing imagination to take the lead. She also said that the book was easy to follow even though it was not the first book in the series. (Yay for not needing to make sure they read them in the right order!)
There is also a lot to like from a parenting perspective about this series. While I am all for princesses and princes, it was a breath of fresh air to see a book series that combined “real girls” with a land out of a fairytale. Books are so often one or the other, all fairytale or a dose of reality. For a child this series starts to form a bridge between the two. In my opinion the author, Kiki Thorpe, did an excellent job of allowing kids to live in their imaginations a little longer while providing elements of reality to build their reading skills. I would recommend this book for strong readers in first grade (or with help for beginners), all the way to fifth grade (depending on the child of course, as we know everyone is unique!).
*Disclaimer* I was provided with a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive compensation for this review and all opinions and beliefs stated above are my own.