A Family of Readers

A Family of ReadersA Family of Readers Edited by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano. Published by Candlewick Press, 2010. 368 pp.

A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature is like an evening spent with the best book club you can imagine – thoughtful, witty, insightful people who share a common love of books for young people.

Organized by the way books are experienced – Reading to Them, Reading with Them, Reading on Their Own, and Leaving Them Alone – A Family of Readers is also a map to a reading life touching the big milestones along the journey. Do not go to Family of Readers just for a list of the best books for children (although substantial lists are included at the close of each section). Do go to A Family of Readers with a sense of adventure and curiosity.

Have you ever wondered how a Jon Scieszka/Lane Smith book evolved from unadorned words to the controlled chaos of The Stinky Cheese Man or Math Curse? You’ll find the answer here (hint: never underestimate the Book Designer, aka Molly Leach) in the essay Design Matters.

In the midst of essays about what makes a good science book or alphabet book come vignettes by the likes of Naomi Shihab Nye, Lois Lowry, Russell Freedman, and Virginia Hamilton, each piece reminding us why we read and delight in their words.

Teachers and librarians might want to share with parents the reverse psychology found in “Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader” by Dean Schneider and Robin Smith. Rule Number One: Never read where your children can see you.”

Leave it to Charlotte Zolotow to sum up the essence of good writing for young readers: “The writers writing about children are looking back. The writers writing for children are feeling back into childhood.” There is plenty to both think about and feel about within the pages of A Family of Readers.

– Reviewed by Ellen Myrick