Spend time reading with little ones in your life
I hope this summer has been giving you lots of time to read with (and to) your children. These two new books can help parents and children celebrate books and reading together.
— "Open This Little Book" (2013, Chronicle Books, written by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee, ages 2-7): When you open this book, which looks not so little on the outside, you will find a smaller book inside. With it are instructions. "Open this Little Red Book and read about Ladybug, who opens a little green book and reads about Frog, who opens a... " The text takes the reader through a progression of books, each smaller than the one before.
Each of the books introduces the reader and the succession of characters to each other. There is great joy in seeing Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear and more, who've met through their stories, frolicking together in the ever-smaller line and watercolor prints.
The rainbow of colors produced by the succession of books (blue, yellow, orange, green, red and purple) and the pattern of opening and closing each of them as the story moves forward produces an ingenious visual and interactive pattern.
Complete with clever twists in the plotline and ending to keep older readers interested, this book will endear itself to a wide range of readers, including adults. It's not only an engaging and entertaining story but a strong acclamation of books and bookmaking.
— Another book that acknowledges the power of story is "Rocket Writes a Story" (2012, Schwartz & Wade Books, written and illustrated by Tad Hills, ages 3-7). This sequel to "How Rocket Learned to Read" (reviewed in this column in 2010) brings back the adorable dog, Rocket, and his teacher, the little yellow bird.
In this tale, teacher tells Rocket to use that nose of his to sniff out new words. Off he goes, finding words like feather, bug, buttercup and nest. He writes the words each day. Teacher adds some of her own, saying, "This one is small, but I promise it'll come in handy" (holding the word "up").
After Rocket and teacher hang all of their words on a tree, teacher asks, "Now what shall we do with all of these splendid words?" Rocket thinks hard and decides to use the words to write a story. "My story will be an adventure about the great wide world," he tells a butterfly.
But no story comes to him. Teacher reassures him that one of the hardest parts of writing is coming up with a good story. She makes suggestions and off goes Rocket to look for inspiration. The smell of feathers and pine needles leads him to the nest in a pine tree.
After a failed attempt at an introduction, but a good amount of patience and persistence, Rocket finds a brand new word and a character for his story: a very shy owl. "I'm writing a story about you," Rocket tells the owl. Rocket works on his story, growling at it when it isn't going well, listens to his teacher's questions and reads it to Owl each day. Owl is shown in the bold, painted illustrations venturing down onto lower and lower branches each day to listen to the story.
The final scene in which Rocket reads the finished story to owl, now listening right beside him, is a poignant one. This book will inspire reading and writing, too. I hope it motivates young readers to create their own stories this summer.
Alice B. McGinty (http://www.alicebmcginty.com), the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children, directs a summer writing camp, Words on Fire, for teens, and tutors school-aged children in writing.