In my last few library visits I’ve come across several picture books about reading, in addition to one that’s already become a favorite – Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco. It’s at about third grade reading level, and would make a dramatic read aloud. See a longer review of it on my Patricia Polacco page.
It tells the story of how an entire town forgot how to read because they became so addicted to TV. In fact, a giant TV tower had replaced the library. The town librarian however, who has taken to her bed and is considered a real nut case, is still able to inspire one person – her nephew – and through his actions the entire town is once again reminded of the importance of reading.
I’m not sure any of the other books I found on reading can top this, but they might appeal to younger children. If you’d like a friendly way to help young children see the importance of reading and learning to read, you might want to try reading your children one of these other books.
Maybe a Bear Ate It, by Robie H. Harrris, illustrated by Michael Emberley, is for the very youngest readers and the story is mostly told in pictures with just a few words in very large print. A kitten climbs into bed and is seen looking through the pages of a book, and falls asleep over it. Upon waking, he can’t find the book. (Young readers will see where it fell under the bed covers on the floor.)
The kitten looks everywhere (except where the book is), and then exclaims, “I need my book!” In considering what might have happened to it, he wonders aloud if maybe a bear ate it, a stegosaurus stomped on it, or some other imaginative alternatives. After thinking over these possibilities, he declares he can’t go to sleep without it and so he begins to look for it. When he finally finds it (and knocks his bed over in the process), he declares, “You know what? I LOVE MY BOOK!”
For slightly older readers, you might try Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by John Manders. The pirates in this book are all rabbits who sail in the Golden Carrot. All except Henry, the captain’s son, were very bad bunnies. But Henry, instead of performing his proper pirate duties, preferred to sit around and read books. He was teased and scolded for this by the other buccaneer bunnies, but it really didn’t bother him.
One day, because he’d read a lot about meteorology, he predicted a terrible storm, but he was ignored because he was applying information he got from a book. So the ship was wrecked in the storm and the crew was stranded on the usual desert island. Henry saves the day by applying all he’s learned from his books on survival, and even shows the pirate bunnies how to build a new ship from palm fronds.
They finally sail away to a library on the Easter Islands, and revisit it every summer to read books, which the pirate bunnies are now sold on. This book will probably appeal more to young pirate fans than it did to me, but the point it makes is valid. The pictures are wonderful.
Book Fair Day by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom, shows the excitement of one Dewey Booker, an African-American student in Mrs. Shepherd’s class, the day before his school’s book fair. He wants to buy a whole wagon load of books, but his class only has half an hour at the end of the day to visit the book fair. All day he tries to sneak into the library with various excuses, but his teacher always finds him and hurries him back to class before he can buy anything.
Finally his class gets their half hour visit, but his friends keep him so busy recommending books to them that the visit is over before he can get books for himself. Fortunately the librarian has been observing Dewey in each sneak visit and has a special box for Dewey under the table. He is able to drag his wagon load of books home after all.
As I read this book I was reminded of the days when I put on book fairs and students were constantly trying to sneak in. These pictures of students of all races enjoying books and other school activities on book fair day are delightful.
Depending upon the age of the child you want to inspire, one of these books should get the ball rolling. But nothing will make a child want to learn to read more than hearing you read to him .