Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
How to Read a Story

How to Read a Story

Spring 2015 Picture Books
Ages: 3 - 5 yrs.
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781452112336
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Some readers might have been under the impression that reading a book simply involved sitting down and reading a book. Kate Messner's book will disabuse them of that misconception, detailing the very important steps that most young children know are crucial to the process of reading. It can take a while to find the right story. It's pretty important to find a good reading buddy (which, for most three-to-five-year old readers, is a definite precondition for any actual reading to take place). And it's essential to find the right spot-not too hot, not too cold, just cozy enough, but not so squashy that you might get stuck. The steps to reading a story, it turns out, are a story in and of themselves.

The engaging, cartoon-like illustrations go a long way toward making this book a good read-although it disappointingly focuses on a white protagonist while keeping readers of color in the background and end pages. Children will enjoy following along with the breakdown of the hypothetical book-within-a-book, a fantasy entitled The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. The illustrations of the silly things that can go awry at the very beginning of the reading process are also quite well done. The book leans a bit too heavily toward explicitly teaching reading strategies such as prediction; while the prediction questions are quite entertaining, the tone becomes slightly preachy. Nevertheless, I must state that my own son seemed not to mind this. He thoroughly enjoyed a silly romp through his own reading process, as I suspect many other young readers will.

Naomi Lesley   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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