Sherry's Reviews > How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
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Jun 18, 11

bookshelves: j-pb-er-middle-grade-ya-fict-and-nf
Read in May, 2011

"How Rocket Learned to Read" is a fantastic little story on so many levels. Apart from successfully demonstrating how to begin to make sense of printed words, it celebrates the importance of story upon our imaginations, and the importance of teachers and mentors to whom we look up to for guidance and companionship.

A little bird, not unlike Tweety Bird, strikes up a conversation with a fluffy, playful dog named Rocket. The bird has a classroom in mind, and hangs a banner from the trees, promoting the alphabet: "Where it all begins". The enthusiastic teacher seeks Rocket as her pupil, and begins reading him a story concerning a dog and a lost bone. Disinterested as she begins, Rocket can't help but being drawn into the story as he naps and listens. The bird creates a cliffhanger when she suddenly stops reading and departs, leaving Rocket literally hanging on her last words. Rocket the student returns the next day, ready for reading class. After a season of teaching, little bird leaves for the winter, with the advice "Don't forget! Words are built one letter at a time!" Of course, this is meant to reassure beginning readers that with small steps and practice you will surely figure it out.

Practice is what Rocket does in her absence. Spelling out words like D-I-G, W-I-N-D, and C-O-L-D, with accompanying illustrations of Rocket having fun with these elements, gives kids the visual prompts to participate. They figure out the picture in story and want to connect the dots (or in this case, lines) with the text. This is one of those books that just simply promotes reader participation, in the same way the Mo Willems "Elephant & Piggie" books do. Over the winter, Rocket spells everything, and eagerly welcomes little bird's springtime return. Now, they read books together, and read them again, "And again. And A-G-A-I-N", says the book. Your child will want to read it over and over with you!
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