Friday, October 10, 2008

Born to Read by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown

Here's the latest review from Mary Rowe a.k.a The Library Queen.

Born to Read by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown

I was prepared to write my review for Born to Read and had all my
ideas ready to go. I planned to write the review while babysitting my
grandkids, so I brought the book along. My notes had several
comments I had taken as I read and reread the book:

1. Wonderful message to share - but seemed forced
  • Reading will help you win - but it won't make you win every time as in the bike race
  • Coaches frown on basketball playing and book reading at the same time
2. Story line seemed a bit contrived
  • Putting the child in impossible situations which are made to seem realistic (correcting the doctor's diagnosis, competitions above child's ability)
  • Reading in the tub (oh my what were they thinking? ) Water and books don't mix.
  • Realistic examples and the fantasy giant fit together well to present the message
3. Illustrations were superb!
  • Details- you can almost feel the texture of clothing
  • The expressions on the faces of the characters are entertaining

But, then my three year old grandson saw the book. "Can I read it?" was his first question. "What is it called?" was the next. I watched while he took the book and began pointing to the letters on the inside of the cover. " I know that one. Here is a "b" Nana." When he finished with those he knew, he turned the page and began to read. He put his finger under each word and started making up a story to go with the illustrations. He paused before "reading" each page to look at the illustrations and point out what he liked or noticed that was interesting. He knew most of the books in the baby's crib and told me which ones he had in his room and which ones were in his sister's room. He "read" the whole book with great enjoyment. Later, when I tried to find the book during their naptime to write this review it was not where we had left it when Noah finished reading.

After my grandson's nap I asked him if he knew where the book was. "It is in my room Nana, I wanted to read it again at naptime, and will you read it to me now?" He and his five year old sister paid close attention to me as I read Born to Read. When I told them I had to take the book home to do my homework, Noah nodded seriously and asked, "Will you bring it back?"

So much for my notes, this book is a hit with the three-year-old reviewer! Maybe sometimes, we older reviewers would be better off letting the books speak to the children and judging their reactions as the true test of a worthwhile book.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying:

Kidazy! :
"This wonderful book rhymes words with such enthusiasm that you can’t help but get in to the story yourself rooting for Sam!" (Read more...)

Jen Robinson's Book Page:
"I think that this book is well-intentioned, sometimes fun, and gorgeously illustrated. I think that parents who want to encourage young readers will buy it and read it to their kids, and that they will enjoy it. But my personal recommendation, if you're looking to encourage a child to love books, is to not push this particular book too hard." (read more...)

Young Readers: "Great premise. Great start. Ultimately falls into mediocrity. Slightly disappointing." (read more...)

Cheryl Rainfield:
"Born to Read celebrates reading and reinforces its importance. It’s got a wonderful message, though the message is laid on a bit too thick for me. Still, it’s got a message that both kids and parents really need to hear–that reading can help you." (read more...)

More Info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846878
  • Source: Review copy from publisher


  1. Thanks for the review. It's very interesting to hear the positive kid perspective on this one, since the adult reviews have been generally mixed.

  2. I felt the same way about this one as you did - how fun to get a child's perspective! Plus the way he "read" it with you is a great way to develop pre-literacy skills, according to research. Somehow just sitting down with a child and a book, everything falls into place! :-)