Llama Llama Loves to Read

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Llama Llama Loves to Read Book Poster Image
Reading looks exciting and fun in lively classroom story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lays out the steps involved in learning how to read, from memorizing the alphabet to learning to write and recognize words and sound out ones you encounter for the first time. Shows value of a library, suggests all the imaginative stories you might find in books: "Llama reads so many things: / Fairy princess, pirate kings, / shiny knights and dragon fights, / under seas and up great heights." 

Positive Messages

Reading is fun. Words have power. Words together make a story. Books have all kinds of stories. Being able to read signs like "STOP" and "GO" can be helpful. Some words are hard, but just do your best to sound them out. Being able to read a sign or a word or a sentence will make you feel proud. It's fun and cozy to read with someone else, like your mama. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Llama's teacher, a zebra, is supportive and makes learning to read fun. Llama's mama is loving: She walks him to and from school, takes him for ice cream, reads with him at home in a cozy setting with her arm around his shoulders.  

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Llama Llama Loves to Read is credited to the series creator, the late author-illustrator Anna Dewdney, who died in 2016, and Reed Duncan, her longtime partner and director of the Anna E. Dewdney Literary Trust. Duncan has brought back the beloved characters, and JT Morrow has stepped in as illustrator. This book lays out the building blocks of reading in a classroom setting -- from learning the alphabet to sounding out words -- and makes learning how to read look like an exciting adventure. 

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What's the story?

LLAMA LLAMA LOVES TO READ shows a classroom of animal students mastering the building blocks of reading. First they learn their letters. "Letters make a special set. / That set is called the alphabet." Then they learn that "Letters together make a word," and "Words together make a sentence," and lots of sentences "strung together make a book," and you can find lots of books in the library. The animals also learn to memorize what some simple words look like, so they can read them when they see them (including "STOP" on a sign) and to sound words out. And they learn to write their names and spell other words. 

Is it any good?

This book breaks down the steps involved in learning to read and makes reading look fun and exciting. It accomplishes all this with a lively rhyming text that zips along in a bouncy rhythm. In the art and rhyming scheme, it's true to the late Anna Dewdney's vision. But at the core of her Llama Llama books was usually some kind of personal or ethical struggle/dilemma for the main character, Llama Llama -- like he was being selfish or jealous or demanding, and as the story developed, he became a kinder, less self-absorbed, more empathic individual. He learned something on an emotional level. Here, he learns a valuable skill. Nothing wrong with that, especially if it inspires kids to read. It's just a different kind of story. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how learning to read is shown in Llama Llama Loves to Read. Does it look fun? What do you see in the art that makes you think the animals in the story are having a good time?

  • Have you read other Llama Llama books? Do you like this one as much? How is it different? How is it similar? 

  • What's fun about stories that use rhyme? What are some examples of words that rhyme in the story? Try making up a story using rhyming words.

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