Book: How To Read a Story
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Age Range: 5-8
How to Read a Story, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Mark Siegel, is sure to delight any and all fans of reading books, particularly kids who have recently learned to read themselves. As promised by the title, the book outlines the steps required for a successful experience reading a book aloud. Many of the steps are specifically tailored towards new young readers. For example, note the last line in Step 1, below:
Find A Story.
A good one.
It can have princesses and castles,
if you like that sort of thing,
or witches and trolls.
(As long as they're not too scary.)"
Other steps are even more direct in their hints to new readers, like Step 8:
"If there are words you don't know,
try sounding them out or looking at the
pictures to see what makes sense."
This advice is followed by an example of how a child might read a passage from a sample book, sounding out the unfamiliar with "castle". The "book-within-a-book" (used as an example for a number of steps) is a bit over-the-top, but I think that kids will find it entertaining. I personally found the conclusion of that book-within-the-book ("The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot") to be overly sentimental, but I thought that the rest of How To Read a Story was pitch-perfect. I especially enjoyed the attention that Messner gave to finding the proper reading spot (for two), and the examples of passages that one would read aloud with different voices. The latter are useful but also entertaining.
Siegel's ink and watercolor illustrations are engaging and playful. When the boy in the story attempts to read out of doors on a cold day, steam rises from his breath and his hot cocoa. The illustrations from the book that the boy is reading are rendered in a slightly different style, helping to separate the book that we are reading from the book that the boy is reading. The boy's expressions, ranging from joy to suspense, are slightly exaggerated, reinforcing the text for young readers.
There is a hint of diversity in the presence of a darker-skinned friend with dreadlocks who plays a minor role (though I do wonder why the main characters couldn't have been diverse instead).
How To Read a Story is a celebration of the joy of losing oneself in a good book, of the sense of accomplishment that reading aloud can bring, and of the connections that are strengthened by reading together. It belongs on the shelves of anyone who is dedicated to growing young bookworms, whether those shelves be in the home, the classroom, or the library.
Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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