I can't believe it has been six months since I first bought the Usborne Very First Reading Boxed Set. We bought our set used on eBay because the new price of $70 seemed a little steep for a product I was buying sight unseen. To be honest, now that we've had the set for six months, I can honestly say the price is fair. The books are well conceived, designed, and made. They are a lot of fun to read with your child. There are three built in activities at the end of each book. There are also useful supplementary materials available to download for free online. These books make teaching my child to read fun for both of us. That is a lot of value in one boxed set.
We had gone through 10 of the 15 books. At book 8, the format changes from the adult and child taking turns reading pages to the child reading the entire text. Also, the books build in difficulty as you progress through the series. Michael was beginning to struggle and was having less fun. Here are some sample pages showing the difference in difficulty between the Level 1 book and the Level 10 book:
Then one day when I went to download some supplementary materials for the next book I saw that there were some new titles available in the series. They had released a second book for levels 1-7. Perfect! That was just what I needed to work with Michael. We could start over again at level 1 and work our way back up to level 7 with new books. I was very excited.
Then I realized that the new titles were only available in the UK. I searched and searched and finally found a way to order them (alibris.com). I was willing to pay new prices and shipping for these. That is how much I like them. The new books are just as nice as the original ones and they include little built-in ribbon bookmarks. Here is a picture of the inside of the back binding from one of the originals and one of the new books so you can see the change in selection.
We read both books at a level at the same time. So when I got the new books we started with Level 1 again and read Pirate Pat and Double Trouble in the same lesson. On the first lesson we read the books and do the first activity at the end of the book. Then Michael gets to put a sticker in the Activity 1 box on his progress chart. We also go through the sight word flashcards (download for free from usborne site) sorting them into the pile he knows and the pile he needs to work on. The second lesson consists of re-reading the books, doing activity #2, and working on the sight words again. The third lesson we read the books a third time, complete activity number 3 in the backs of the books and re-do the sight word cards. The fourth lesson is re-reading the books a final time, completing the downloadable worksheets and doing the sight word cards for the last time. Re-reading books is important for gaining confidence, intonation, speed, fluency, and comprehension. After the fourth lesson, we are ready to move on to the next level.
We are having the best time with this reading program and I'm looking forward to using it a second time with Ava when she's ready.