Flea is living proof that kids pick things up in their own good time. And that idle parenting isn’t necessarily a disaster.

As a pre-schooler, Flea could identify the letters of the alphabet but that was it. She was the only child in her class who started school unable to do something called ‘blending’ – so she could sound out the letters ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ if she saw them, but she had no notion of the fact that this might mean ‘cat’.

I’m sure I could have taught her these things but she just wasn’t that interested – even as a three-year-old, she was more interested in imaginative play. Give her a jigsaw and she’d imagine them into a class of children; give her some letters and she’d imagine them into animals at the zoo, or pirates.

That said, Flea has always loved stories, and she had no problem memorising them and ‘reading’ them back to me:

But making an effort to read the words for herself? Not so much.

However, not quite two years down the line and Flea’s reading is quite something to behold. She gets a book to read from school each day and it’s completed before we’ve left the car park. If she goes to breakfast club at school she is allowed to choose what she does – and Flea will always, always choose to take a book and read in a quiet corner.

We don’t even talk on the school run any more, because she would rather read a book.


Our problem, though, is that we’re running short of books to read.

Flea is reading chapter books and can devour 100 pages of Horrid Henry in a day. She also loves books about dogs, and has read everything ever written by Holly Webb involving lost puppies, stolen puppies or orphaned puppies. Then we read the Faraway Tree books and the Wishing Chair books, which she’s enjoyed.

What now?

My challenge is that while Flea might be reading at the level of a nine year old, she’s still only five. So she doesn’t necessarily understand the storylines of books for older kids, and I don’t want her reading things that might scare her. It does of course go without saying that Flea would rather poke herself in the eye than pick up a book with a pink cover relating to fairies or princesses or any of that nonsense.

So we’d love your recommendations. What chapter books do your kids love?  

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