Dav Pilkey: inspiration for reluctant readers

Captain UnderpantsDav Pilkey’s humorous style is perfect for reluctant readers.

His most famous books, the Captain Underpants series, turn children into chapter book readers.

Dav Pilkey’s appeal goes far beyond that.

Part of the attraction to readers and teachers: Dav Pilkey writes in series.  Once you hook a child on one Dav Pilkey book, there is usually a series to be explored.  By the time the child reads one Pilkey series, he craves another.  Soon, you have hooked the child on reading.

Check out the Dumb Bunnies books, about a truly stupid family of rabbits.  My favorite is The Dumb Bunnies’ Easter (AR level 2.7, 0.5 points), a mishmash of holidays that the bunnies get completely wrong.  (Santa Claus is the Easter Bunny, and he comes in a shiny red minivan pulled by eight flying pilgrims.)

The reading level of the Dumb Bunnies books helps you reach more than one target audience.  Primary students will work hard to be able to read Dumb BunniesDumb Bunnies books are also good high interest/low reading level (hi/lo) choices for struggling middle grade students.

The same holds true for Dav’s Dragon series.  (AR reading level around 2.7)  The books are perfect for primary children, but can be used as a hi/lo choice for older readers.  Once a child reads Dragon’s Fat Cat or Dragon’s Merry Christmas, there is a series to enjoy.

Students who tend to read the easiest picture book possible can be lured into reading harder picture books with titles like Dav Pilkey’s Dogzilla (AR level 4.2, 0.5 points).  Combining a humorous story with hilarious photographic illustrations using Dav’s own dog, Dogzilla will entertain all elementary readers.  After Dogzilla, readers will enjoy Kat Kong (AR level 4.1, 0.5 points).

Create chapter book readers with two of Dav’s series: Ricky Ricotta and Captain Underpants.

Ricky Ricotta is slightly easier.  The books’ AR levels range from 2.9 to 4.1, with most in the 3rd grade range.  Children will enjoy reading about Ricky, a mouse who befriends a giant robot and saves the city from an evil rat scientist named Dr. Stinky McNasty.

Children clamor for Dav Pilkey’s most popular books, Captain Underpants.  They are perfect gateway to reading real chapter books.

Dav Pilkey can be an important part of your classroom reading program!

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Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Book Lists,Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Nov 11, 2009


Three Cheers for Captain Underpants!

Captain UnderpantsSome teachers don’t like the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, but I think it’s great!

Of course, I’m aware that Captain Underpants is not great literature.  That doesn’t mean it’s not a great read.  What other books combine prose, comics, and do-it-yourself animation (Flip-O-Rama) with action and potty humor?

Captain Underpants is a gateway book.  It turns reluctant readers into chapter book readers.  The Captain Underpants series is relatively short, so a child will devour the series quickly.  Once the child runs out of new Captain Underpants books, he’ll want to read other fun chapter books.

Captain Underpants turns lower-level readers into upper-level readers.  Once children reach the fourth grade reading level, they are ready for Captain Underpants.  They will feel so special because Captain Underpants books can go as high as the 5.5 reading level.  Children who would never consider reading a 5.5 level book will break this rule for a Captain Underpants book.  Once Captain Underpants has built confidence, the child feels ready for more difficult books.

Tip: I don’t set out Captain Underpants books with the rest of my classroom library.  I hold these books back.  Children get to read Captain Underpants books only when they read at the fourth grade level.  This is very motivating in a third-grade classroom.  Children will read, read, read in order to become better readers so they can read the Captain Underpants series.

The Captain Underpants series is great!

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Posted in Book Lists,Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Oct 9, 2009