Three Little Bears Play All Day is disappointing in almost every imaginable way. First and foremost, it is about the story. In all three attempts the book fails. Just because the target audience is at the youngest level doesn’t relieve the creative team of their responsibility. However, this is often the case when using a controlled vocabulary in early basal readers. And this is what this book feels like. It is a book, not literature for small children. I would expect to find better at the grocery store.
The book even comes with instructions for adults (as soon as the cover is opened) so that they can facilitate the reading event with children. The intention as well as the instructions are appropriate, but I’m not so sure I would actually make them part of the book. I might slip them inside so that they could be easily removed.
And then there is the preview page for each story. It tells what each story is about, and it is also unnecessary. I am not clear if this is for the adult or the child. If it is for the benefit of the adult, then put it with the rest of the “instructions.” If it is designed to stimulate the child’s interaction with the text, then it too is artificial. Why would children not want to read the entire book? Why make a combination teacher/student book for early readers?
One thing that is age appropriate is the size of the book. The book and the font is just right for little hands and eyes and it is very well made.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book for any use or audience. I don’t like the feel of the instructions. They immediately draw attention away from any story. Lose the instructions and this book becomes something I might pick up in the grocery store. It is not literature and the stories are anything but clever. Children need multi-faceted stories even at this level. Yes, they must be simple, but it can be accomplished. Adults might appreciate strategies, but not smeared all over the book. Many school reading programs offer these same strategies to parents in short instructional sessions, and then feed a constant supply of books. It is unfortunate that this book will not be included in that number.
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Andrews High School
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Andrews, NC 28901