We read. We read for reasons varying from day to day from the time we first read until the last time we read. We read to know and to grow. We read to find ourselves and to find others. We read for the laughter, the joy, and the hope. We read.
Whether you are a new reader or a reader having spent decades immersed in the written word, to celebrate this skill and the freedom to choose what we read is an honor. Read! Read! Read! (WordSong, an imprint of Highlights, September 19, 2017) written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater with illustrations by Ryan O'Rourke is a collection of twenty-three poems. Each one focuses on this life-changing ability.
Tracing my fingers
under each letter
I used to pretend
I could read to myself.
I didn't know how
but I didn't care.
I'd go to the library
pull from the shelf---
a rainbow of rectangles.
The first time you put words on a page together to make a sentence and the sentences together to form a thought or thoughts is something never forgotten. You read whatever you can as soon as the day begins. For many children, it's cereal boxes or favorite sections of the morning paper.
During class reading time there are as many different experiences in any one room as there are students present; story lines, characters and settings combining and contributing to those fictional or factual realities. Wherever we go words appear on maps and road signs. Have you ever taken the map from inside a National Geographic magazine as soon as it arrives? Did you hang it on your bedroom wall?
There are readers who collect words, singularly descriptive words they've read. Their lists of these words are like a poem, a poem about them. The stories we read teach how to handle the bumpy roads we travel and the hollowness we feel at loss. Books can give us companions we might otherwise never know or have.
Our reading, the words we consume, nourish us. They become a part of us. There are days when our hunger for these words stretch into the night. A flashlight illuminates the page as the words illuminate our lives. It's an enduring love.
With each poem Amy Ludwig VanDerwater gives us a probable stop on the journey of our reading lives. Whatever particular point she highlights she reveals the delight shared by all who stop there. Her descriptions are (will be) remarkably familiar. Here is another part of one of the poems. (Mulan selected it.)
I cannot get a real dog
but I have one in this book.
She's fluffy and she's friendly.
She's right here--take a look.
I hug my dog each time I read.
She licks me without fail.
And when I turn the pages fast
wind whisks through her tail.
The blend of blue hues, golden yellow and warm orange over a bookish landscape spreads in a swirl over the spine from flap edge to flap edge. The sun-kissed clouds form a pathway from a castle located on the left at the back. The children are flying toward new worlds. A lighter royal blue covers the opening and closing endpapers.
Rendered digitally in Adobe Photoshop Ryan O'Rourke alternates between single and double page pictures. Prior to the title pages a circle of colorful letters curve around the first poem changing into an array of open books as a little girl watches. Beneath the title text a young boy sits on the tail of a benevolent dragon. The books from the first poem tumble down from the top of the page next to the contents.
Books take flight with birds over a reading landscape, two boys gather at a breakfast table reading, city buildings spring from an opened map, a girl sits on a sofa as trees filled with hawks grow around her and are you ready to climb steps made of books leading to a tree house roofed with a book? Each image designed by Ryan O'Rourke fills our vision with memories of our reading lives. He shifts his perspective in keeping with the poems to enhance their meaning.
One of several of my favorite pictures spans two pages. It's Sunday morning. Newspaper pages are spread over a hardwood floor. On the left a glasses-wearing cat pauses to read with the front page draped over it like a blanket. On the right a boy eats his breakfast and reads the comics on the floor. A cereal bowl and a glass of orange juice are near him.
Readers will connect with most if not all of these twenty-three poems in Read! Read! Read! written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater with illustrations by Ryan O'Rourke. These collaborators have wonderfully conveyed what it means to read and be a reader. Professional and personal collections will want to have a copy of this title.
To learn more about Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Ryan O'Rourke, please visit their respective websites by following the links attached to their names. At Amy's site there is a section devoted to the art process Ryan uses for this book. You can find more about Amy at The Poem Farm. Amy is interviewed at Live Your Poem. Both Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Ryan O'Rourke maintain Twitter accounts. Please take a few moments to enjoy the book trailer.