Luke Skywalker’s Amazing Story by Simon Beecroft

A popular set of readers for kids who are just getting in to reading for themselves. Plus, it’s got cool pictures too!

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9781405338608
Published: 2/2/2009

It’s hard to synopsis this because basically what you see is what you get; it’s the story of Luke Skywalker and his basically going from farm boy on a dustbowl planet to Super Awesome Jedi Knight Who Defeats the Big Bad Evil Supervillain By Appealing to the Man in the Funny Black Helmet With Asthma. There ya go, I just summed up Star Wars. Ta da?

There are five different stages to the Dorling Kindsley Readers series, of which this is just one. There are two or three books at each stage, and the stages range from the prelevel ‘learning to read’ up to stage 4 ‘proficient readers’. This is a stage 1, so the language inside it is very simple. ‘This is Luke. he lives on a faraway planet with his uncle and aunt…’, that king of simple. The type is nice and bold and nicely spaced out too in chunks about the pages. If the words prove a tad tricky at times, the rest of the book acts as a picturebook, with the pages covered in large images from the various Star Wars films (including my favourites, Han Solo and Obi-Wan).

That said though, it remains to be seen exactly how easy it is to read some of the Star Wars characters’ names – I mean, Obi-Wan Kenobi is not exactly in keeping with current Phonics teaching, is it? However, as anyone even slightly interested in reading knows, half the battle with getting kids to read is getting them to find something interesting to read. And that’s where these books excel. Yes, it’s not exactly ideal that kids are reading books from films rather than reading books that rely more on imagination, but I say that if this series can persuade some children to get over the hurdle that reading can be at that early stage, then I personally don’t care what film characters they are. Let them get an interest in reading first, practice their skills by reading books that interest them, that are familiar to them, then figure out how to open up the rest of the world of reading to them. Give them the skills first, the practice, and that’s the equivalent of giving them the keys to the library. And besides, I grew up reading an older series of Star Wars books (which I will be reviewing at some point), and as you can see, it hasn’t exactly stinted my reading habits!

So, even if their content is not ideal, what DK have produced is a brilliant series for practicing skills while still providing something a child will want to read. The Star Wars Clone Wars cartoons are extremely popular (and not just with geeks like me) and when I was still teaching, I always came across a set of boys busy wielding imaginary lightsabres no matter which school I was in. With that in mind, these books may not be the best for teaching reading, but they are a very useful tool and absolutely worth bearing in mind.

The whole series of DK Readers can be found here, including the Clone Wars related series and the new books tieing-in with the new Star Wars Angry Birds game.

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