Research undoubtedly establishes what we already know. Development of reading as a habit can’t be enforced through the regimen of school homework or any rigid approach to mastering the skill. It has to be internally driven, led by the undeniable truth that reading is enjoyable and we should encourage reading for pleasure amongst the younger ones. They will then push themselves to more challenging books as they absorb and enjoy the easier ones. Captain Underpants series of books is one such series. It is best suited for kids aged between 5 and 8 years old. The name itself is a giveaway as to what is the predominant thread throughout the series. Yes, yes it plays to the gallery of its young readers by weaving events around toilets. I think the book is predominantly designed to elicit interest amongst boys of that age group. However, it is not to say that there aren’t girls who would equally peel with laughter.
The language is kept simple. The interspersing of the text with comic book style narrative helps break the monotony of a novel. The jokes in the book would be crass to an older audience but for the target audience, it is perfectly timed and will fill your house with rapturous laughter.
It is also a good book for advanced young readers to be introduced into more traditional novels. The stories are sprinkled with some difficult words for young readers, which I think is good. They are not so many that the reader is out of depth, but at the same time help push the boundaries a bit with the reader’s vocabulary.
One of the most innovative and fun things in the book are the pages of confrontation between the good guys and baddies. These are moments captured not only in words but also in motion. The “flip-o-Rama”, where the reader can flip the pages to generate an illusion of animation in a book are fun to say the least. Believe me, although the flip-o-ramas are spread across just 2-3 scenes, they are hilarious. My son enjoyed them thoroughly.
Well, to sum up, it is a good starter book for boys of ages 5 – 7 and I must hastily add girls as well, possibly.
The captain Underpants books can be found on Amazon and other online book stores. Don’t forget the charity shops and old book shops. We found ours in one of those and have had hours of fun reading them.