Critical reading is the ability to recognize the ideas and values that are being transmitted from the author to the reader. A skilled critical reader is also a critical thinker, and that person has the ability to evaluate whether the author's message is worthy of consideration.
Think about it. There are lots of people out there selling their program and wanting you to believe their ideas and values. Every day, we are barraged with advertisements, opinions by newscasters and talk show hosts, and the spin found in magazines, books, TV shows and movies. Those who are not critical readers and critical thinkers become easy targets to fall victim to propaganda.
It's imperative that we provide children with the tools that enable them to think for themselves, to trust in their instincts, to learn by observing others and learn from their own experiences, mistakes included. This happens when we expand a child's circle of knowledge, and that begins with reading. Make it your mission.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Gorilla! Gorilla!" by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross, Atheneum, 2006, 28 pages, $15.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3-4 and older.
Read yourself: age 7-8.
Baby Mouse is missing, and Mother is frantic! Mother races through the rainforest, looking everywhere for her baby, but the rainforest is very big and Baby is very, very small. Just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, a great, big, hairy, scary gorilla jumped out and told Mother Mouse, "STOP!"
How could Mother Mouse stop? She has to find her baby, and if she stops, the gorilla will crunch her up for lunch! Instead, Mother Mouse runs and runs and runs, all over the world, and the gorilla chases her, all the way to the Arctic. But by that time, she is too tired to run any further. As she prepares to meet her fate, Gorilla has a surprise for her.
Full of fun, laughs, and just the right amount of suspense, this delightful global chase will command repeat performances.
Library: McClure Community Library, Library Lane, McClure
Branch Library Director: Joe Hall
Choices this week: "The Moffats" by Eleanor Estes; "Charlie Bone and the Time Twister" by Jenny Nimmo; "Journey" by Patricia MacLachlan
Books to Buy
The following book is available at favorite bookstores.
"Are You a Horse?" written and illustrated by Andy Rash, Arthur A. Levine, 2009, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 3 and older.
Read yourself: age 7-8.
It was Roy's birthday, and his friends threw a party for him and presented him with a gift. When Roy opened his present, he didn't know what it was and was told it was a saddle. The attached instructions directed Roy to find a horse and enjoy the ride. The trouble was, Roy wasn't sure what a horse was, but that didn't stop him from going out to find one.
A hilarious story of one determined cowboy who, after a lot of crazy searching, finally finds his horse, but kids will be surprised to find out what happens next.
• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan, of Lewisburg, writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.