How Rocket Learned to Read, Tad Hills, Caldecott picture books, best picture books

LIVE CHAT with Tad Hills and Learning to Read

Learning to Read with Magnetic Alphabet Game

Live Chat with Tad Hills of How Rocket Learned to Read

Tuesday, May 8th. 9 pm EST.

I’m really excited to meet Tad Hills on a LiveChat at the Kids Read and Play Random House Community at BlogFrog. I hope you can join me!

I asked for a Color Nook for Mother’s Day last year. I really wanted to read picture book on an eReader with my kids. The shelves were filling up fast and I figured it would be a new, space efficient and different way of reading books at bedtime. How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills was my first picture book download and it didn’t disappoint. It won a Caldecott honor earlier that year, and I had flipped through it several times at bookstores. The narration was spot on, and the characters and story are ADORABLE! We still read it frequently on the Nook.

How Rocket Learned to Read, Tad Hills, Caldecott picture books, best picture booksHow Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

Other picture books did not translate as well to the Color Nook — some tried to put an entire landscape spread on one Nook page which is way to small to read, especially when the font size is small to begin with. Jeanne Birdsall’s Flora’s Very Windy Day was my second download — it was up for a Caldecott and she wrote the Penderwicks series. Alas, the Color Nook eBook is unusable. The devil is in the details and whoever did her eBook did not think it through. Her picture book, though, about sibling relationships is charming!

I would have purchased How Rocket Learned to Read in a heartbeat if my kids were still learning their letters, the first stop on the road to independent reading. I love picture books that support learning to read.  It’s like a present within a present. My experiments with teaching my kids their letters culminated in a magnetic letter fishing pole game that I developed using pieces from two different games to teach my youngest his alphabet at around 15 months. It worked like magic and he’d beg to play it every day. We’d spend about 5 minutes a day on it; stopping the second his interest waned. It’s very simple.

Put all the letters in a bucket and have the child fish a letter out with the magnetic fishing pole. Put the letter on a magnetic board and identify it. Then make patterns with the letters as they accumulate. Sometimes we’d sort the letters by color

Fishing, Sorting and Identifying Magnetic Alphabet Letters

Tolo Toys Funtime Fishing, $18

Imaginarium Letters & Numbers – 72 Pieces, $13

Here are other great pop up picture books to learn the letters of the alphabet. These were our personal favorites.

Best Pop Up Alphabet Books

Maisy’s ABC by Lucy Cousins

An adorable pop up picture book with our favorite mouse Maisy! As the first chidren’s book my husband ever bought even before we actually had kids, this book will always have a special place in my heart. And, as it turns out, all my kids loved the Maisy picture book series.

Robert Crowther’s Amazing Animal ABC Book

I’m not sure if this book is still in print, but my kids loved the interactivity of the flaps and pull tabs. Our copy is tattered with lots of Scotch tape mends.

The Most Amazing ABC Book by Robert Crowthers

Any pop up picture book by Robert Crowthers is a keeper so this is the one I’d buy now if the Amazing Animal Alphabet book is out of print.


p.s. I have more posts on phonics here. Our favorite phonics workbooks are Explode the Code.

To view any item more closely at Amazon, please click on image of item.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    I think I commented on Blogfrog but in case that didn’t go through…

    Love the idea of alphabet fishing -going to try that with my son! And alphabet pop-up books – engaging!
    Ann recently posted…Butterflies and BooksMy Profile

  2. Jeanie

    The tough part is getting all that clay to stand up and not sag or collapse. Standing, of course, isn’t all there is: you have to make sure that it is fun and interesting from all angles, because kids will be walking around it, squinting at it, sniffing it, touching it–inspecting it from all sides.
    Jeanie recently posted…The GoPro Video RevolutionMy Profile

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