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Read Me a Book

by Barbara Reid

Twenty years after she first wowed the picture book world with her now-signature Plasticine artwork for The New Baby Calf, Barbara Reid has another treat for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and caregivers. Read Me a Book, originally commissioned for Ontario’s Newborn Literacy Kit and distributed to new parents through the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children and Ontario Early Years programs, is now available to the rest of the world.

In a 50-word rhyming text, Reid uses a child’s voice to convey how important it is to read and recite to very young children. Supplementing that text is a two-page note to adults from Reid about their critical role in supporting the growth of minds as well as bodies.

As one of Canada’s most award-honoured illustrators, Reid creates pictures that speak thousands of words. Plasticine is a cheerful and absolutely non-intimidating medium for her read-to-me message. Her illustrations portray the nurturing link between reading and play, and reading and cuddling. They depict readers of diverse ages, sexes, and cultures, and show reading as an anywhere, anytime activity to be supported by a variety of reading resources. Reid also encourages interactive reading by including an item on each text page that readers can look for in the facing illustration.

While new parents and their children are the obvious targets for this book, don’t neglect its value to preschoolers. For busy bedtimes, it’s a fun, quick read that can be used to develop visual detection skills in the style of Where’s Waldo?; parents can ask kids, for example, to find all the toys, food, or footwear in the book. From its sky-blue cover to its sunshine-yellow endpapers and baby-pink ownership page, Read Me a Book is as cuddle-inducing as a fuzzy, well-worn blankie.