Happy Birthday Tad Hills - April 1
Tad Hill's best selling book How Rocket Learned to Read is a favorite of many teachers and librarians. It is a story of dog that is unable to read and an enthusiastic bird that is determined to teach him. The bird sparks Rocket's interest by reading aloud to him. Then, she introduces him to the letters of the alphabet and the sounds the letters make. She moves on to teaching Rocket how to spell the words of things they observed like F-A-L-L and R-E-D. Before migrating south for the winter the bird shares her words of wisdom, "Don't forget. Words are built one letter at a time!" Rocket spends the winter practicing his letters in the snow and when Spring arrives he practices in the mud. Once bird returns, Rocket and her read books together again and again.
According to The Children's Book Review Tad Hills said, "the seed for the story was planted when my family got a dog and named him Rocket. I later used him as the subject for a PW cover illustration (spring children's books 2008). That cover image of the dog sitting quietly with a yellow bird perched on his nose reading -- inspired the story." My favorite illustration in the book was of Rocket practicing his spelling in the mud. His paws were covered with mud and so was his head and nose. This illustration inspired us spell our own words.
|Instead, of using mud, we made pudding. I didn't have chocolate pudding in the house so we added cocoa powder and crushed chocolate cookies to vanilla pudding to make our "mud pudding".|
|The kids used their hands to spread out the "mud pudding" on a cookie sheet.|
|We started by spelling M-U-D just like Rocket did in the book.|
|There was lots of licking and spelling going on. My daughter was having me challenge her to spell hard words, my youngest son was practicing his favorite letter O, and my oldest son wrote his name!|
|"Mud Pudding" was everywhere! All the kids went straight to the bathtub and their clothes went in the washer!|
I loved this childhood memory. I told my oldest two children that we were going to go on an "Imagination Hunt". I showed them images of pansies and cloud formations. We talked about how if you use your imagination you can see things in other things. We set off around our neighborhood to see what we could find.
|Right near our house we found a tree that looked like a one-eyed alien or even a man.|
|My son found this water line cap that looked like a smiley face.|
|Think we were having fun? My daughter thought this stick looked like one of the prankster arrow-through-your-head hats.|
|I found this piece of wood that I thought looked like a spooky ghoul!|
|My daughter found this nut carved by a squirrel that she thought looked like a jack-o-lantern.|
|Our most exciting find was this knot on a tree that my son thought looked like a bear's face.|
|Our boots and bottoms were muddy but we had a great adventure!|
All week I read many of the board books featuring Duck and Goose to my youngest son. His favorite was Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin. To bring these books to life we went to feed the local ducks and geese.
|After the warm weather the last few weeks we were back to having chilly mornings. But, this didn't stop us from venturing out to see our featured friends.|
|A hungry goose accepts a treat!|
|Quack! Quack! Honk! Honk!|
1. Tad Hills' website
2. Tad Hills Bio - RandomHouse
3. Tad Hills Interview - Patricia Newman, Children's Book Review, School Library Journal
4. How Rocket Learned to Read App for iPad Trailer - YouTube
5. How Rocket Learned to Read Printable Activity Packet - RandomHouse