Level Playing Field

By Philip Steele

Kingfisher 3.99 48 pages

The Kingfisher series correlates approximately to the level of readers. The Level 1 and 2 books are full of lovely photographs and interesting educational subjects such as baby animals. Younger children will enjoy the pictures before they can read the words. The short sentences of Level 1 progress to complex sentences, specialized vocabulary and cultural context in Levels 2-5. That said, the categorization of reading levels is best scrutinized before book’s selection, and the young readers will probably be happier with a book below their level than above. Even in Level 1, word length and vocabulary will be challenging for many children without significant adult participation.

As the levels increase, the content contains concepts that may or may not be appropriate for a given child. Levels 2 and 3 allude to violence between predator and prey. Level 4 Pirates describes and illustrates the killing and beheading of Blackbeard. Level 5 Egyptians introduces such significant topics as polytheism, agriculture, construction, gender roles and social status. The lifestyle of nobility is described extensively, the lower life expectancy of the poor is mentioned honestly, and slavery is glossed over with references. The lower level books are truly delightful for sharing with a child. The books for independent readers should be selected with careful review and consideration of a child’s maturity and interests.

Reviewed By Brenda Searle

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