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How to Read a Book
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How to Read a Book

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  651 ratings  ·  131 reviews
A stunning new picture book from Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet! This New York Times bestselling duo has teamed up for the first time to bring you How to Read a Book, a poetic and beautiful journey about the experience of reading.

Find a tree—a

black tupelo or

dawn redwood will do—and

plant yourself.

(It’s okay if you prefer a stoop, like L
Published June 18th 2019 by HarperCollins
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  651 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous book by a dynamic duo. Adult book nerds will appreciate the incredible artwork, clever language, and connections to notable poets. Kid book nerds will enjoy the clever structural features. OK, the adults like the structural features, too.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
How fun, an ode to reading. Instructional in the best way. "Once you're comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine...Next, did your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out." I can't decide if I prefer the illustrations or the writing better, both are so complementary and enjoyable. Check this book out!
Laura Harrison
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am in awe of How to Read a Book! The gorgeous cover art draws you in and the text wow's you! Melissa Sweet is one of the very best picture book illustrator's of our time. She has topped herself with this one. Every page is an inspired wonder. There isn't a question in my mind that How to Read a Book will win awards. It is spectacular.
Mary Lee
Wow. Melissa Sweet pulled out all the stops on this one. Hidden Nikki Grimes quote in the spread between the title page and the dedication page, before Kwame's poem begins (took me about four reads to find it). Gatefold, two small pages with cutouts, neon colors, and of course her amazing collages and lettering. The illustrations kind of overwhelm the poem a bit, if I'm going to be honest, but I love Kwame's metaphor of reading: peeling and eating a clementine. I'm feeling like lots of clementin ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
For a book on 'How to read a book" this is really hard to read... like physically, it is hard to read the actual text. The collage like art combined with overly bright colors and mismatched patchwork font choices are jarring to the eye. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but there were some poor design choices on this one. The text is your standard Kwame Alexander poetry, though some of the word choices come off a little... sensual at times.

The text itself is not bad, but I had trouble actua
Ben Truong
How to Read a Book is a children's picture book written Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, which is a wonderful ode to reading.

Alexander's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and lyrical. It depicts the joys and wonders of reading with verse and beautiful imagery. Sweet's illustrations riff on his verse, line by line, imbuing spreads with the feel of a continually evolving, handmade love letter.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. It is simply a love letter t
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A true dream team with Kwame Alexander's beautiful poetry (I believe I first saw a version of this poem in the Scholastic Open a World of Possible book) paired with Melissa Sweet's signature collage style that captures the magic of devouring the written word. A tribute to the power of books made from words from books, specifically Bambi, although I'm so curious where the rest of them are from. I can't wait for the behind the scenes making of this incredible book, as well as the chance to see it ...more
Mrs. Krajewski
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Gorgeous illustrations and words! Melissa Sweet and Kwame Alexander are a great combo!
Olivia Williford (LivTheBookNerd)
What a lovely poem dedicated to the joy of reading. The words were so beautiful and baffled the senses. The illustrations were so bright and beautiful.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved the vibrant illustrations and of course the beautiful words celebrating reading!
Jillian Heise
This one would likely not make a good read aloud because of how busy the pages are and how the words are illustrated making it harder to read. As a lap story, it would be good, and has a beautiful way of saying what it has to say.
Edward Sullivan
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, joyful celebration of reading.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a frustrating experience for me. I really liked Kwame Alexander's writing, but I hated the artwork on this one. It was so busy I could barely find the words. The artwork overpowered the writing here and I could not enjoy it. I kept feeling like I wanted to type out the words so that I could experience them on their own. Not for me.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexander's delicious poem, likening reading a book to pealing open a clementine and tasting it, is enchantingly accompanied by Melissa Sweet's signature collage illustrations. I loved the description of the technique she used: "The artist used watercolor, gouache, mixed media, homemade and vintage papers, found objects including old book covers, and a paint can lid to create the illustrations..." In fact, snippets of pages from a discarded Bambi book are part of the collage mixture. Some of the ...more
For thousands of years people have been leaving memories of accomplishments, dreams, discoveries, musings, mysteries, everyday occurrences and unusual events on cave walls, bone, clay, bark, metal, stone, papyrus, palm leaves, string, parchment, paper or anything else they deemed as lasting or appropriate in less than ideal circumstances. To be able to communicate in the absence of face to face opportunities connects us to others, then and now. To do so languages, an understanding of languages a ...more
Kwame Alexander's poetic text in How To Read A Book perfectly captures the rush of feelings buoyed by a love of reading and stories! From settling in with a new reading choice, or an old favorite:

Alexander evokes the anticipatory thrill of beginning a story:

The deep, all-consuming focus as the story draws you in and holds you in its grasp:
This awesome picture book is a fantastic celebration of reading that will definitely become a favorite in libraries, classrooms, and personal bookshelves. The reading party breaks all the rules and splashes out of the pages in bold colors, juicy sensory descriptions, and snippets of literature inviting young readers to escape into another world. In an author's note in the back of the book, Alexander says he wrote this poem as a way of "painting a picture of the journey readers take each time the ...more
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The magic of a book that shows why it's important to take our time and enjoy the tactile experience of reading a book along with how it can take us on an adventure.

It's Alexander's ode to words/books in a poem that Melissa Sweet put to her collage-style a la EB White's biography.

My one complaint is that the words from collage-style torn/ripped/mutilated books is stronger on the page than the words of the poem so it took me a minute to figure out which was the poem and what was artistic in conj
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Man, I had such high expectations for this book. I love love love Kwame Alexander. I enjoy Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. But this book was a big miss for me.
The words were hard to read. It read a little bit like an after school special as I felt it was trying to shove a love of reading down the throat of people that don’t love reading (I love reading so I expected to feel more in awe on the words but I just didn’t).
Now I’m sad because I thought it was going to be better.
The use of actual boo
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This is an art book, and taken as such it's really interesting and worth looking at. For most children? I'm a little unsure. As an adult reading this I had trouble getting through the text because the font type is either well blended in or just not distinguishable for a while. So even reading to kids might make this one a missed opportunity because any book about the joy of reading should also be a joy to read. Alexander is terrific, don't get me wrong. This book though is more for the artistic ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book originated as a poem, and this is exactly how it reads. I don't know how to describe the words in this book other than that they are delicious. They feel good coming out of your mouth, and you want to linger on the sound.

The words are not the only thing you want to linger on though. There is SO MUCH going in the eye-popping illustrations.

A really original and beautiful book that I would recommend for intimate settings over storytimes. The actual font of the text would be difficult to
Kwame Alexander's poem about reading is lovely: "Next, dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section/and Pop the words out". Melissa Sweet's illustrations illuminate: see that toaster 'popping words'. Both make for slow reading, just the way to read poetry and to savor art. You have to get the book itself. I won't try to describe this special celebration of reading further. Might be a marvelous one for the first days of school? Early on, look for a quote by Nikki Grimes.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been fine, but the writing was almost indistinguishable from the art, which made it really difficult to read the actual poetry. I couldn’t make it through while I was at the store today. I will have to dedicate some actual time to it, which I assume I would if I were to purchase it, but... ehhh. To summarize, I did not enjoy the art style. No comment on the poetry since I was UNABLE TO CONCENTRATE ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY READ IT.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book for younger readers. I am a huge fan of Kwame Alexander and of Melissa Sweat. The verse was lovely and full of delightful imagery; however, conceptually a bit of a stretch for the PreK-2 set. Reading it would require significant exploration with an adult. The collage illustrations were too busy, difficult to decipher and distracting from the text. Best read with an older sibling or parent who will take the time to discuss the metaphors and imagery.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though I could have read this book in five minutes, I found myself lingering over it. How to Read a Book perfectly captures the experience of reading. The illustrations caused me to go back and read a second time because there's simply so much for the eyes to take in that it cannot be done in one reading. Kwame Alexander is one of my favorite authors and this book just helps confirm the fact. Melissa Sweet's illustrations are beyond amazing. A picture book worth your time!
Rich F
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books, tween
The artwork is interesting and could definitely be used as a model for student work, but Alexander's poem was just that, a short poem. It's too advanced for children and, while nice, wouldn't be worth a second read for tweens. It could be something worth discussion in a 4th-6th grade classroom, but
in the format it's in, it'd be hard for a whole class to engage with at once. I'm not sure this really needed to be a book. A one-page printed poem would've sufficed.
Erin Buhr
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
This pairing is perfection. Kwame Alexander's textured, vibrant poem with Melissa Sweet's collage, emotional illustrations. This is reading like it has never been described. It is poetry. It is art. It is lovely. I would love to see this paired in a storytime or read aloud with another "how to read" book and have kids compare and contrast. But all on it's own this is a rich book that celebrates the magic of opening a book and reading.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is truly beautiful, with its vivid colors and illustrations, as Kwame Alexander's poetic words portray the beauty and gift of reading. This is definitely a book you can reread multiple times and/or spend time studying the illustrations, as you do not miss out on the small details. You would definitely have to explain the figurative language to young children, but child who love to read will understand the meaning with some assistance.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A very colourful and creative brand new picture book that is written as a poem about how to read a book and experience reading. I love the bright colours and the art is truly inventive. Various mediums were used in this book, with the illustrations being a combination of pencil drawings, painting, and cutout newspaper text. The illustrator uses hand-lettered text which become part of the book's artwork. Check out this vibrant book for yourself if you like to read.
Alicia Evans
I enjoy Alexander's lyrical writing style and I was very excited when this came in. I loved the sentiment behind it and the reverence that the narrator has about books/reading. However, the illustrations and colors made the book difficult to read at times, and I stumbled over a few pages. I wouldn't pick it for a read-aloud because of this and it may be difficult for beginning readers to take on.

For: lovers of reading.

Possible red flags: difficult to read text.
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Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children ...more