As you know, every morning I do English with my son.  He passed Level 2 of the Eiken (an English exam here in Japan) recently, so I am really proud of him.   Our hard work is paying off.

I want him to do a bit of reading every morning.  I chose this book.    Scholastic Reading Tests.  We have been working through the series.  I like that every morning we can do a little mini essay.  Most other books have quite long reading passages–not convenient for us.

Scholastic is a reputable company, but sometimes I feel that the reading passages are a bit iffy.  For example:



It says that few Japanese brides will wear white for a wedding.  What??!!!???  That is totally not true. Where are they getting their information?    Not from a reputable source, obviously.  So I’d love to have a better book than this.  I’ll be on the lookout.

I’ve been heading to Fukushima University’s library once every two weeks to get materials.  We have been going through this series of Penguin Readers from England.    Looks good and high quality, right?  It’s British so it must be good, right?





The famous actress hits her fan with a crutch!


Would Angelina Jolie EVER do that?  I think not.   Never!  What’s more, this book doesn’t show her getting in trouble for it.  (This is one of my complaints and I have seen it in other Penguin Readers—characters do wrong actions, but with no consequences.)

Just totally unbelievable, and not at all entertaining or educational.

What’s more….This book is from a British company, and going through this series, I have notice a slight anti-American slant.  In these books, Americans are rich and flashy (Like Laurel Rowe, here.)   The series is Hollywood-obsessed, to say the least.   This book series paints a stereotype of American culture and American people as all being wealthy larger-than-life jerks.  Okay, we’re no Downton Abbey, but we aren’t all out hitting poor dolphins with our big American speedboats.

I guess I was lured in by the fact that these are “educational” books.  Therefore they must be good.  Not!  They’re so-so at best.  We’ll keep with them because there is a dearth of English materials in Fukushima City, nevertheless I give Penguin Readers:  Thumbs Down!