Popular characters like Thomas the Tank Engine can have an important role in helping children learn to read.
As adults we often forget that learning to read is a big and often difficult task for children. We can make this part of growing up feel less like work though by providing children with enticing books about topics they enjoy. Beginner books about much-loved characters like Thomas the Tank Engine have an important role to play in education because they encourage children to stay focused and help kids understand that being able to read can make life more enjoyable.
The early reading series ‘Step into Reading’ includes "Thomas & Friends" - a collection of books especially designed for beginning readers. This series has bright, eye-catching pictures on every page and simple, yet engaging stories. This makes them perfect for reading aloud to Thomas fans who are not yet old enough to start their learning to read journey.
Thomas the Tank Engine: The Teaching Perspective
Despite being a great topic for kids there are some early reading challenges in these books:
- The text often appears on a coloured background (e.g. blue sky or green grass). Reading words on a coloured background is more difficult that reading text on a white background for a beginner reader.
- The books have few picture cues to help a beginning reader work out unknown words.
- The books often include complex words for a beginner reader, such as tracks and boiler.
The possible impact of these reading challenges on your child should be considered based on their reading skills and degree of interest in Thomas. Are they a confident reader? Do they have difficulty reading words not printed on a white background? Is their love of Thomas the Tank Engine enough to overcome these challenges? For some children these books may work best as a way to explore reading together, with a parent or grandparent, and not as a beginner book for reading alone. Regardless of whether you find them most useful as a beginner, read together or read aloud book this popular topic should help spark an interest in reading among children who love Thomas.
Parent’s Thoughts about the Thomas Books
Reviews from parents and grandparents on Amazon are very positive. The imaginative, bright artwork and simplified stories hold the interest of even very young children of 2 years of age (as a read aloud) while beginner readers love their Thomas books. Parents also comment about the great price for these books ($3.99 each at Amazon) making them an easy addition to a home bookshelf.