Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Dorling Kindersley Complete Dog Breed Book

Apologies for any typos tonight. I have had two days of small but irritating disasters which have led to me spending a long time mopping olives, oil and smashed glass up from the kitchen floor, and A. C, and I eating an inordinately large amount of porridge oats after an incident involving pouring milk into the wrong container. Today has been relatively disaster free, but just now I managed to brush my hand over my computer keyboard in such a way that I have shrunk the typing box on my blog to a third of its usual size. Attempting to brush it back the other way has proved futile. Mr M is currently away, so until he returns, I will have to live with typing into a tiny box.

Anyway, to today's topic. I am always extremely suspicious of any book marketed as "for reluctant readers". "Reluctant readers" is often used as a synonym for "children we consider to be educationally subnormal". The books are therefore generally patronising and a bit rubbish. Everyone is a reluctant reader until they find something which fires their imagination.

I teach a lot of kids who don't enjoy reading. They generally do not enjoy books specifically marketed to reluctant readers. Almost without exception, the boys enjoy The Guiness Book of World Records. However, ever popular with both genders are books about different dog breeds.

I have no idea why this is. Even kids who don't own a dog, or are not particularly interested in dogs LOVE looking at books where each breed has a photo and some information relating to their loooks, character and habits. We have now built a lesson into one of our schemes of work, where, after reading Buster Fleabags by Rolf Harris (a lovely book btw), the students then spend some time researching their ideal dog and producing a leaflet about it. They absolutely love it, and the lesson sometimes extends over several lessons of rigorous hard work.

The latest Book People catalogue has the DK Complete Dog Breeds Book for £5.99. I am now the proud owner of said tome. This, obviously, is ostensibly for work purposes. However, I have spent the past hour leafing through, stopping every now and then to think what it might be like to own a Beagle or a Lurcher. A was very concerned when she saw me with the book. "I'm not sure we'd cope with a dog Mummy. I think we should get chickens." Hmmm, I said, non-comitally. But in my head I was thinking "can you take a chicken for a walk?"

For the time being a dog breeds book is a much smaller commitment than an actual dog. And it's useful. Perhaps I should suggest to Dorling Kindersley that they slap a "Great for Reluctant Readers" tag somewhere on the front cover. Because, on this occasion, it would actually be true.

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