Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blast Off for Reading: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

Every fall evening, after chasing leaves, Rocket would lie in his favorite spot under his favorite tree. There he would sniff the neighborhood smells and settle in for a good nap.

But one day... a little yellow bird startled Rocket.

"Aha! My first student. Wonderful!" she sang.

The little bird sets up shop immediately, hangs out her shingle, and dismisses Rocket's protests that he can't read.

"Can't read? FANTASTIC!

Welcome to my class!"

Rocket is not so sure he wants to give up his carefree lifestyle (and his naps) so easily, but the yellow bird begins to read him stories, and Rocket lies down under the tree and just has to listen to a tale of a lost bone.

Eventually Rocket is intrigued and learns the "the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet, where it all begins," and soon begins to put together sounds and decode the words of stories for himself. His progress is phenomenal. But then, one chilly day, the yellow bird's banner is gone from his tree.

"See you in the glorious spring!" she sang.

"Don't forget words are built one letter at a time!

And Rocket doesn't forget. All through the snowy winter he puts his letters together. W-I-N-D and C-O-L-D, he spells, making new words for the weather for himself. And then one warm day there is a sign in his favorite tree, and Rocket reads it readily--and happily.


Tad Hills' newest, How Rocket Learned to Read (Schwartz & Wade, 2010) features the author-illustrator's sweet style of illustrations made famous in his beloved Duck and Goose series. For slightly older youngsters, just approaching reading readiness or learning to read, this one pairs beautifully with Louise Yates' new Dog Loves Books, reviewed here September 8, 2010.

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