I’m always on the look out for great books to share with my kids. It can be a challenge finding something that captures the interest of both boys, but recently I discovered a winner. Not only did my very advanced tween enjoy the book, but my emerging, struggling reader was captivated too. They insisted I read all of Zoey and Sassafras in one sitting! So what was so special about this book? Find out what we loved about Zoey and Sassafras.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
When it comes to reading, I’m faced with some very unique challenges. My oldest was considered fully adult literate in grade 2. He can read anything, but that doesn’t mean he understands everything. Or is ready to read everything, even now at 11 years old. We’ve had to be very cautious in what books we provide him, but since he is a voracious reader, we are constantly searching for titles.
My youngest is the complete opposite. He suffers from developmental trauma disorder which has resulted in a long list of learning delays and struggles. His biggest area of struggle is around language. So it comes as no surprise that reading skills are taking longer to develop. And like anything that is a struggle for someone, he doesn’t embrace reading the way his brother does.
So with those two very diverse needs, I’m always looking for new books for our daily read out loud sessions that will interest both of the boys.
Most days the boys, especially my youngest, is fiddling and rolling on the floor as I read, their attention waning quickly. But not the other day. Not when I read Zoey and Sassafras. My boys not only sat for almost 2 hours, but they cuddled up close and demanded that I read the whole book to them in one sitting. It was a total reading win!
Best of all, there are five books in the series, with more coming! So we have more great cuddle time and reading ahead of us.
So what did we love about Zoey and Sassafras?
Zoey and Sassafras – Diversity
First, take a look at that cover! It can be hard to find books that feature diverse characters, that are also a light and easy read. Zoey and Sassafras features a black, female lead. My youngest commented immediately that the character on the cover looked like him! Although race is not a topic of the book, I think one of the things that drew my reluctant reader to the book was his connection to the main character.
Zoey and Sassafras – Science
The book does an amazing job of integrating scientific discovery and the scientific process into the story line. It was a wonderful example of “learning by doing” as my kids watched as Zoey applied scientific investigation principles to her problem to find an answer. Bringing lessons to children in this way is a fantastic tool for helping kids embrace learning. I know my kids couldn’t wait to apply some scientific investigation to their own learning.
Zoey and Sassafras – Fantasy
To be completely honest, I was surprised my tween was so into this book. I thought the female lead would turn him off (it didn’t at all), or the fact that it was definitely written and presented as an early chapter chapter book. My son gobbles down 500 page epic fantasy novels in a few days. I didn’t think this early book would appeal, but it did. So I asked him why he enjoyed the book so much.
Here is his answer:
“Zoey and Sassafras is like a cross between Doc McStuffins and Fablehaven. Fablehaven is my favourite book series. This book is a fantasy and has amazing creatures. I also like the idea of taking care of injured animals. I’d like to do that one day. I’d also really like to have a dragon as a pet!”
Zoey and Sassafras – Smart books for curious young readers
Overall Zoey and Sassafras was a surprisingly huge hit around here and we all can’t wait to read more books in the series. As a mom, I’m really happy to find such a well thought out book. It has diversity. It is written with large font and lots of interior images (perfect for my struggling reader). And most of all it has captivating characters and themes that engaged both of my boys.
This is definitely a must add to your bookshelves and reading lists.