Walker Stories

Walker Books (editor)

Walker Books 2017
A book review by Danny Yee © 2018 https://dannyreviews.com/
This is a really nice collection of thirty early readers, by far the best of its kind that I have seen. Each of the little books has the same structure, with sixty four pages split into three chapters, black and white illustrations throughout, and around 1900 words of text. The books are not graded, but are all at roughly the same level of language complexity — hard to pin down exactly, but roughly suitable for 6 to 7 year olds (perhaps around Oxford Reading Tree level 9 or Lexile Level 600). A few have been modified to fit this format from existing books, but most seem to have been commissioned; they are, however, by recognised writers and illustrators.

The stories address social and emotional challenges and development — disability, being the only girl in a family of boys, the death of a grandparent, fear of flying, and so forth — but the sheer variety involved across thirty books stops this seeming artificial. With one exception they are realistic, without either fantastic elements or implausible plots, but they have plenty in them to catch and hold a child's attention. They are all set in the United Kingdom, however, and some details may be confusing for readers elsewhere.

Thirty books at the same complexity level might seem too much for a single child, but my daughter progressed from reading a chapter at a time, with some support, to gobbling down the last few books like snacks. (Tip: we found the cover sheet for the set useful, as she liked ticking off the books as she read them.)

The Walker Stories lack the gloss of some of the alternatives, but the black and white illustrations are, to my mind, better than the cartoon-like colour in many early readers. The paper covers might be a bigger concern for schools, as they may not hold up so well in an early primary classroom. At full price — £140 or so — the set would be way too expensive, but it can be found for around £30. There's also a fifteen-book subset available, and the books can be bought individually.

December 2018

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%T Walker Stories
%E Walker Books
%I Walker Books
%D 2017
%G ISBN 140635323X
%P 1620pp