by Shelley Davidow, published 2006
“Wisdom is fading in the world. Words are disappearing. The brightness in the sky is vanishing and the dark Cloud of Ignorance has grown suddenly dense.”
If I could use only one book to introduce early readers to the magic of learning to read, it would be this beautifully and cleverly written quest for wisdom. What could excite children more than to be entrusted by the Wise Enchanter with the mission to save the world from the darkness of Ignorance by finding all the letters! When I began working with struggling readers, I opened our first session by describing the quest of this book, adding that only a few children could help. I then asked, “Would you be willing to help discover the letters and save the world?” All the girls, and most of the boys, all 2nd and 3rd graders said, “Yes!” It became the theme of our work together. Each time we learned new sounds and words, we reminded ourselves that now those words were saved from the grasp of Urckl, the Master of Ignorance.
This children’s book can be used in many ways. It is easily a read-aloud book for younger children, who will delight in the adventures of the four (multi-cultural) children in the story. Children who have already learned to read well will enjoy discovering the ways that Davidow plays with the letters. Each chapter about a letter has a rich vocabulary of words with that letter. For example, “Goodness gracious me, Gilbert. Gobbling gemstones is not what good geese should do!” Guess what letter that is!
In addition, each chapter has an illustration of the letter using the Waldorf method of learning shapes of letters by pictures that resemble the letter. For early readers, this book helps reinforce their letter sense.
Finally, this is a great children’s book for a first grade class teacher to use, as a way of story-telling. Each letter can be introduced with the story in the book, providing lots of ways for the children to learn to hear and write the letter.
Three cheers for Shelley Davidow for offering this well-loved book. If you are looking for another children’s book for teaching reading, check out Shelley’s early readers.
Buy this at your local independent bookstore