Sunday, December 6, 2009
Read Anything Good Lately?
Quick! How many types of reading material can you name? Twenty-six? That's exactly what Susan Allen, Jane Lindaman, and Vicky Enright create for a playbook a teacher or librarian might use. Actually, more than twenty-six, but that's for you, dear reader, to discover in reading "Read Anything Good Lately"?
The question begins innocently enough. A boy and girl, apparently neighborhood buddies, are out walking their dogs together. The girl, a bookworm if ever I saw one, gets the question, just a conversation-starter, a good question for this particular girl. By the time she reaches the end of the alphabet, deliberating exactly what she has read, they end their walk when they reach his house. Even so, the girl returns the question: "And what have you read lately?" He thinks of four things right off.
That's the fun of this book--the creative, clever alliteration, suggestive but not imitative of the rhyming repetition of Dr. Seuss, without the tricky tongue work. Not one of these alphabet ditties is a stretch of the imagination, as you will find in some alphabet books. Here are some examples:
An atlas at the airport
Comic books around the campfire
Fairy tales by the fireplace
Joke books in the jacuzzi
Literature at the library
and so on.
But that's not all the book is about. Each letter gets a full page, each FILLED with colorful things to look at. Here's "literature at the library." The girl is sitting on a red beanbag, reading "literature." Oh, silly me. She's reading "Charlotte's Web." Each full-page illustration shows a bubble of the page she reads. This bubble shows a pig on a farm talking to a spider on a web. That one's not difficult to discern! Also in the library illustration is a blue-napped carpet. The girl is leaning against rows of books in a low bookcase designed for children. On top is a glass cage with a little white mouse running on a wheel. Books are displayed atop the bookcase. One reads "Kente Color" (in reference to African cloth, I think). At the upper left of each page is the alphabetical letter for that page. In this case are a capital L and a small one with a picture of a vibrant lady bug designating the letter. There's plenty to look at and talk about for a reader and small child learning her letters and words and adding to her prior knowledge so that she is reading ready when the time comes.
Also in all applicable illustrations is either the girl's cat--an orange tabby-- or her dog-a black lab. In a tree house the cat is asleep on a limb. In the park is the dog sitting patiently on the bench with her. Oh snap! He's not sitting patiently! He's at his wit's end. Look at that face! He's on the bench with his back turned to her. She is reading poetry-- aloud! He's dismayed, but dog-like, he suffers nobly. The two squirrels looking over her shoulder are loving the poetry and chuckling delightedly!!
Another great thing found in this book is family! In several illustrations the girl sits with her daddy, who also demonstrates a love of reading! She's out with her mother in other illustrations--at the supermarket, at her office. Family scenes --eating breakfast is one--shows a typical family getting ready for the day.
I LOVE this book and know just how to use it with my library students!! It will make a great catalyst for creating our own "library" book, A to Z. Maybe a collage? A pop-up book? Mixed media? "An author in an autobiography" is a good start. Hmmmm.
The companion book to this one is Written Anything Good Lately?, another great catalyst book.
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski