Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Lesson on Literacy: the Rocket Books

You have until 6PM EST, Thursday, November 8 to vote for your favorite Halloween story!  Get to Susanna Leonard Hill's site by clicking HERE.

A friend and former colleague recently recommended these books to me.  We taught third grade together and I always looked forward to her latest and greatest picture book finds.  Well, these hit the mark.  Perfect for both teachers and parents, the Rocket stories are endearing, but never preachy.  Literacy can make a great story! 

How Rocket Learned to Read (Tad Hills) - Opening: "Rocket loved to play.  He loved to chase leaves and chew sticks.  He loved to listen to the birds sing."  A lovable dog, doing lovable dog things.  Until he is awakened from a nap by a little yellow bird, insisting that she is the teacher and he is the student!  After which comes my favorite line: "Rocket found it hard to argue with this bird."  Rocket becomes captivated by a read-aloud, but the bird stops on a cliff-hanger!  Rocket arrives early the next morning to find out how the story turned out.  Thus begins Rocket's literary journey.  He learns the alphabet and how to write his name.  "He spelled everything." 

When the little yellow bird returns in the spring, they read, and the book closes with "And when they were done, they read it again.  And again.  And A-G-A-I-N.

The bird is symbolic of the most beloved teacher you have ever had, the most inspiring, the most patient.  Rocket is the most reluctant student who is then reached by a caring and willing teacher.  May this book be shared far and wide!

Rocket Writes a Story (Tad Hills) - Opening: "Rocket loved books.  He loved to read them to himself or to sit quietly by his teacher, the little yellow bird, as she read them aloud."  I love this parallel opening to the first book.  One of my favorite lines in this book comes from the little yellow bird: "Books are inspiring!  They make me sing." 

In this terrific sequel, Rocket collects words.

He decides to write a story.  "But no story would come."  He finds inspiration in pine needles and feathers and tries to make friends with a mysterious animal in a pine tree. He arrives at the tree to find "O-W-L.... It was a present."  Rocket decides to write a story about the owl.  He found his inspiration, overcame writer's block, interviewed the owl, revised to include details, and even illustrated his story.  What better way to teach the writing process than by writing a compelling story about writing? 

Author Resources:
http://tadhills.com/rocket - Author website includes information on the books and iPad App
http://mag.amazing-kids.org/2010/12/01/amazing-kids-interview-with-tad-hills/ - an interview with Tad Hills

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