How to Teach a Slug to Read, by Susan Pearson, illustrated by David Slonim

How to Teach a Slug to ReadHow to Teach a Slug to Read, by Susan Pearson, illustrated by David Slonim
(2011, Marshall Cavendish Children, ISBN 978-0-7614-5805-0)

On the off chance that you know a little slug that is showing an interest in reading, this book is just the book for you! (In the more likely event that you have a young child who is showing an interest in literacy, this book is also a perfect read!)

Susan Pearson has written a good number of picture books, and slugs are the unlikely main characters in two of the most recent ones, including this title and Slugs in Love (recommended to me by my sister-in-law who has a girlchild of her own about the same age as mine). In this one, a little boy gives ten tips to a mother slug on how to teach her little slug to read. The bulk of the text (and there isn’t much anyway), comes after the tenth tip where the benefits of teaching your “slug” to read are described, from when he first reads to you to how books will “show him the whole wide world…all because YOU taught your slug to read!”

David Slonim (who also illustrated an Eileen Spinelli book, Silly Tilly, among others) provides the illustrations, done in charcoal and acrylic. They are rich with detail and are the sort that older and younger kids can both enjoy without being too complex for the small ones or too “babyish” for the bigger ones. Slug speech bubbles contain little comments that support the text but aren’t necessary for understanding it. Little jokes and plays on words abound; selected rhymes from Mother Slug include a creative “Mary Had a Little Slug” and Little Miss Muffet meets a “slug [w]ho gave her a hug.” An assortment of books that constitute the slug’s favorites include The Poky Little Slug, Slug and Snail Are Friends, and Go Slug, Go!, and the illustrated covers are perfect parodies of the originals. They are colorful and fill the pages completely with close-ups of slugs and bugs and books and everything little kids love!

GirlChild’s Reactions: GirlChild is really into asking me how to spell things lately (and she even caught me unaware by recognizing the word “zoo” when I was trying to be sneaky and spelling out words when talking with my husband in front of her!), so I was sure she would like this book. The first time we read it, she wasn’t overly impressed (that’s what I get for trying to force things on her!), but she really enjoyed it the second time. Her favorite illustration is the one on the cover because it looks like the slug is on the boy’s head, and that really appealed to her strong sense of the silly.

I love this book because the pictures are fun, and it also reminded me that there are steps to literacy that don’t involve formal education, and I need to start taking more of them! I plan to buy a stack of index cards to write down any of the words GirlChild asks me to spell (in addition to spelling them out loud (and sometimes with the letter magnets) as I already do) so I make sure to hit her learning style. (I’m decidedly visual, and my husband is an auditory/kinesthetic, so I know GirlChild could go either way or any combination thereof!) I really believe that the best way to interest kids in reading is to expose them to a lot of books (and print in general) and to ensure that the books we share with them tap into their interests (as opposed to just “good” literature (which I believe to be completely arbitrary!)) and tickle their funny bones or sense of adventure or whatever literary bent they favor. This is a great book to share with budding readers as soon as they start to show an interest in words and how they work (or even just a kid who loves slugs and bugs)!

Additional titles:
Slugs in Love
Silly Tilly


1 Comment

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One response to “How to Teach a Slug to Read, by Susan Pearson, illustrated by David Slonim

  1. GirlChild asked me how to spell “calendar” today, so I wrote it on an index card with her sounding it out to get each next letter…she was so excited, she wrote “frog” herself (well, except for the G), and we’ve probably done ten more since then. Whatever makes her interested! 🙂

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