How Rocket Learned to Read, written and illustrated by Tad Hills

How Rocket Learned to Read, the latest picture book from bestselling author and illustrator Tad Hills, is an engaging, attractively illustrated story about a small dog who transforms from a reluctant reader to an enthusiastic one.

When autumn comes, all Rocket wants to do chase leaves and nap... until a little yellow bird announces that she is his new reading teacher. Rocket thinks maybe he'll do some napping anyway, but his interest is hooked when the bird starts reading aloud from a thrilling story about a dog with a missing bone. Over the course of a school year, Rocket learns about spelling, writing, and sounding out words, and by the time spring rolls around he and the little bird are able to read together.

Hills's book offers vibrant illustrations, a gentle sense of humor, and a wonderful message about the difficulties and rewards of learning to read. We've heard that picture book sales are declining, and while some of the possible causes definitely hold true here*, we're still recommending How Rocket Learned to Read as a solid pick for any preschool or kindergarten students on your holiday shopping list.

*How Rocket Learned to Read is both expensive ($17.99) and aimed at an extremely small sub-set of children (four-to-seven-year-old beginning readers).

[Review based on a publisher-provided copy.]
Posted by: Julianka


14 Dec, 2010 06:40 PM @ version 0

How Rocket Learned to Read is a really cute and educational picture book. I read it and I loved it!

14 Dec, 2010 09:44 PM @ version 0

Yeah, I'm looking forward to reading it to a kindergarten class on Friday--I think it'll be a big hit.

21 Dec, 2010 07:52 PM @ version 0

We really liked HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ, to. My not-so-eager Kindergartener identified with Rocket's initial reluctance.

You point out the cost of the picture book ($17.99), and that it's for a limited age range. I find that my kids read picture books so many times (and they get handed down to siblings) that they're a better "per read" value than my hardcovers.

22 Dec, 2010 12:13 AM @ version 0

Good point--a picture book can definitely be an excellent hand-me-down item (as long as the previous owner was careful with it, and didn't, for example, color on half the pages!). But I still wish publishers would drop their prices a bit, particularly since picture-book sales are dropping so precipitously. I'm not a fan of the cheaper board book format, and I think that's where the industry is headed if "real" books don't adjust their prices down to the $12 to $14 range.

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