This is my first ever review of a picture book, but it seems fitting on the heels of yesterday’s review of Help, I Can’t Read. After all, reading starts with being read to. That statement, by the way, is not opinion. Studies bear it out.
Perhaps the biggest proponent of reading aloud to children is Jim Trelease, author of The Read-aloud Handbook. Working as a journalist back in the 70s, he observed a connection between reading aloud and higher reading scores. Curious to discover if the observation had a factual basis, he did some research, uncovering much data in educational journals—none particularly accessible to teachers or parents. He determined to change that.
Because of his work, most educators agree that the number one, best thing a parent can do to help a child become a reader is to read to him or her, early and often.
And what does any of this have to do with this week’s Children’s Book Blog Tour selection, Crocodaddy by Kim Norman and illustrated by David Walker? The fact is, picture books are first and foremost read-aloud books, and Crocodaddy is a good one.
It has intrigue, danger, fun, and ultimately a spot-on message (albeit, not “Christian” per se), for the adults reading as much as for the children listening—all delivered by wonderful lyrical writing.
Message? Well, yeah, books are supposed to say something and this one does, in a most subtle, enticing way (and reinforced beautifully by the fabulous art work).
Lyrical writing? Yep, that too. Here’s the first page:
Down in the pond by a mossy rock,
something slithers past the dock.
Minnows dart with startled jerks—
this is where the Crocodaddy lurks!
Delightful writing: strong verbs, an easy rhythm and excellent rhyme, all enhancing the story about a little boy hunting for Crocodaddy. This is the kind of book children will ask for again and again.
And yes, the repetition, while hard on some impatient adults ( 😉 ), is just what children need. From Education World:
Repeated reading not only helps children learn to read but also has an impact on school success. Lifelong enjoyment of reading is directly related to daily reading. Children see the pictures and print up close, ask questions, and make comments.
– from “Reading Aloud — Is It Worth It?” by Wesley Sharpe, Ed.D.
So for those of you who are young parents, grandparents of preschoolers, aunts or uncles of little ones, or you know someone who is, I highly recommend Crocodaddy. It’s the kind of book children need to be exposed to early and often, the kind of book that will be one cog in the reading wheel for the youngest generation.
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