The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys Series by Aaron Blabey

I could gush all day long about how fantastic these books are. They are written and illustrated by an Australian author called Aaron Blabey. He is also well known for his wonderful picture books specifically his Pig the Pug series. (which I would also recommend strongly)

The Bad Guys is written and illustrated in a simple comic type format (graphic novel) but with only one to two frames per page. It also has large typeface and clear uncluttered illustrations.

The story centres on four animals (Mr Shark, Mr Spider, Mr Wolf and Mr Piranha) who want to change their image from that of ‘Bad Guys’ and become ‘Good Guys’. To do this they come up with a plan51sMqZCPGjL._SX391_BO1,204,203,200_ to free 200 dogs from the pound. Hilarity ensues.

This was the first fiction book which really grabbed my son. My husband and I read it to him a few times and he would laugh and laugh over the crazy interactions between the characters. Very soon he was reading it to himself. We quickly picked up the next 3 books in the series and my son’s confidence in reading gradually grew stronger. Even more importantly he wanted to read these books.

I firmly believe that humor in children’s books is important. Illustrations to prompt and help the child visualize and comprehend the book is important. The Bad Guys series have done both of these well and for my son it worked.

Number 5 in the series “Intergalactic gas” is currently available in Australia and will be shortly in the United States and elsewhere. We can’t wait.

Checkout number one in the series here

The right book

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book” – Frank Serafini

The first book that my son got excited over was one of the Minecraft Handbooks. He had only recently discovered Minecraft and was hooked. Gone was his obsession with Dinosaurs, now all he could talk about was this brick building game he played on the iPad. We had recently purchased the four Minecraft Handbooks for the school library where I worked. Before I put them out on the shelves (where they would soon be consumed over and over by eager kids) I brought them home for my son to look at.


He was entranced. He looked through each and every book. Although his reading skills were in their infancy he still managed to deduce what the books were about. More importantly these books made him want to learn to read. He quickly recognized the sight words he already knew and began to sound out other words he thought might be useful. My heart soared. When dinner time came round I didn’t have the heart to tell him to take his books off the table. Instead I let him eat dinner while perusing his books. (I very quickly brought him his own copies which he read over and over and over).

The quote by Frank Serafini sums up the moral of this story succinctly. The choice of book matters!!! Find your child’s currency and use it – even if its a book about Shopkins, or Thomas the Tank Engine or in this mothers case a Minecraft Handbook.


Welcome to ‘kids want to read’

Not so very long ago my son complained, whined and adamantly stated that he did not like reading. In fact he declared that “he hated it”. This was no surprise since every time we tried to engage him in the reader* he brought home from school an argument would generally ensue…

-“Time for homework”

-“But I want to play some more”

-“Afraid not buddy. Time to read your book”

-“No, i don’t want to!!”

-“It’s now time to read your book. It won’t take long”

-‘But i don’t want to!!”

From there we would generally begin a round of intense negotiations which may or may not have resulted in some reading and or tears. There are numerous reasons why my son did not “take to reading” like so many children in his class did. These include – his young age and not being ready, his (at the time unknown) learning differences, his lack of engagement in the books being offered and finally the quickly understood notion on his part that he was a bad reader and therefore ‘dumb’.

“Mum, i’m not good at this, i’m dumb”

“No your not sweetie. Where did you hear that?”

“Nowhere, i just know it. I’m no good at anything”

And my heart broke. How was this happening? How could something I find so enjoyable and be such a big part of my life (I’m a librarian) not come natural for my son. We had books all over the house. We had read to him from birth. I feared that my son would never even learn how to read let alone actually want to read.

Fortunately through patience, time and hard work he got there. He is now a fantastic reader. More importantly – he wants to read because he enjoys it.

This website is intended to provide tips, book suggestions/reviews and share first hand experience on raising kids who want to read even if they start off as “struggling readers”.

NB- While our son has become an avid reader we are still midway though this process with our daughter who is still learning the finer points of reading. This has also been somewhat of a struggle. More on that down the track.

*A ‘reader’ is a term given to a book which is sent home from school each night with a student. It is then read with a parent/guardian. It contains a short story which helps the child to learn their letters/phonics/sentence structure etc depending on their skill level.