Hills, Tad. How Rocket Learned to Read. Illustrated by Tad Hills. Schwartz Wade, 2010. 32 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9780375858994.
Rocket isn’t looking for a reading teacher, but a chirpy yellow bird arrives and she is ready to teach. At first, he is annoyed when his nap is interrupted by her read-aloud, but pretty soon Rocket is hooked into the story and wants to know how it ends. So begins a sweet story of learning to read between the patient (and determined) teacher and her pupil. When the cold weather arrives, the yellow bird flies south and Rocket continues his practice on his own. His reading and spelling develop: he stomps out his ABCs in the snow, and he sounds words out like D-I-G and W-I-N-D and C-O-L-D. Pretty soon the days are warming up (S-U-N and M-E-L-T) and the little bird is back for more teaching and learning. Rocket W-A-G-S to show his happiness at her return!
This is a perfect read-aloud for Kindergarteners who are learning to read. They enjoy noticing the change in the seasons, as well as Rocket’s emotions towards reading and learning. We honed in on the way this story begins, as a way to think of how stories start. In this beginning, right away, readers learn a few things about Rocket: he loves to play, chase leaves, and chew sticks!
Tad Hills’ illustrations are colorful and tender, showing the changing seasons and the development of the relationship between the two friends. During the Kindergarten read-alouds, invariably someone would shout out: “He’s so cute!”
Parents’ Choice Awards, Picture Books, 2010.
Friendship, Learning, Reading
Calvin Can’t Fly (Berne) and Dog Loves Books (Yates) are two gentle stories of friendship and the power of words.