Yoko Learns to Read


Remember what it was like when you first learned to read? If you don’t, just read Yoko Learns to Read, by author/illustrator Rosemary Wells, and it’ll all come back to you.

Yoko Learns to Read is the story a lovely little kitten named Yoko who is very eager to read books in English. Students in her classroom get to hang a book leaf on the wall for every book they read, but since Yoko can only read the three books she and her Mama brought with them from Japan, she only gets to hang three leaves. Her classmates read English books so well, they earn more book leaves than poor Yoko. This makes Yoko sad.

Yoko’s Mama wants to help, but she can’t read a single word in English. So she takes Yoko to the local library, where the librarian recommends a beginning reader. At first the reading is slow going, but with the teacher’s help, Yoko suddenly recognizes a few words.

After that, the words just “start to make sense,” as Yoko says. Now Yoko can read “bus stop” and “shoe” and all sorts of words, and before she knows it, more and more book leaves go up on her portion of the classroom wall. It’s great to be a reader, but it’s even better to be a teacher! And that’s what Yoko becomes when her Mama asks for her help to learn to read English.

Yoko Learns to Read is a wonderful story for emerging readers everywhere. It’s text is relevant and age-appropriate, but it’s also sweet, patient and encouraging for young children facing the challenge of learning to read. The illustrations are both simple and complex; simple in their childish faces and wondrous expressions, but complex in their rich colors and dazzling patterns.

If you need a new lap book, an early reader, a multicultural picture book or just a book of encouragement, be sure to get Yoko Learns to Read for your budding reader. You’ll be glad you did.

This one gets 5 Stars!

Best wishes and happy reading,

Rita Lorraine


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