“…our plan was to collect all the dead birds we could find lying on the side of the road and freeze them. Then, when he had enough dead birds, we would sprinkle them all overMr. Butterworth’s back yard…”
“I don’t remember exactly when Gordon invented the Fart Chart, but I do remember when the Fart Chart got the whole class in a lot of trouble…”
“My mother said Grandma might get up to something if we left her alone in the house all day, but when I tried to lock her outside, she ran behind the furnace and scratched my arm. … Next, Grandma ran upstairs and hid under my parents’ bed, so I poked her with a broom and chased her outside…”*
What is it: and then it happened…, a series of 11 (we hope more in the works) books by Michael and Laura Wade, residents of Strathroy, Ontario, lovers of raising readers.
Wow, that’s a lame summary, can you do better? I’ll try. This is a series of self-published books, targeted at grade three-to-six boys who get pegged as reluctant readers. And they might be “reluctant”–late, emergent, whatever–readers for a variety of reasons, but the Wades believe one of the reasons they’re reluctant is because so much of the material on which they’re supposed to learn to read is… boring. Both in terms of what it’s about, and in terms of the language level. So, and then it happened delivers quite short books, which consist of quite short chapters–each one a stand alone short story–but written in real language. And about real kids. Boys, specifically, but Flora identifies with these dudes as much as Cinder does. And these kids get into trouble. Pull pranks. Try to cheat on tests. Sneak out of their house after curfew. Do stupid things. Sometimes get away with it. Sometimes get caught. Sometimes learn something. Sometimes, not so much.
A third of the stories are split-your-gut-laughing funny. Most contain something chuckle-worthy. Not all are equally great, but a lot of Shakespeare’s output is pure shite too.
Who’s the target audience? Boys in grades three to six, but all three of mine–including the girl, including the four year old (and their parents) love these books. Sean and I fight over the privilege of reading them out loud to the kids. Then when we’re done, they reread the stories on their own under the covers.
Where can I get them? You can order the books directly from Books for Boys as well as Chapters-Indigo and Amazon. When we were ordering, Chapters had the best prices.
Also, check out this: What the tests don’t measure, a beautiful letter a principal sent home to all her students along with their standardized test results, on Diane Ravitch’s education blog.
Nothing By The Book was all about four-year-old chaos on Tuesday. There was nudity. And garden shears. On Friday, it’s going to be all about totem animals again. Come visit.
*Grandma is a cat. You knew that, right?
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