No Reading Allowed: The WORST Read-Aloud Book Ever

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
No Reading Allowed: The WORST Read-Aloud Book Ever Book Poster Image
Hilarious fun with silly sound-alike sentences, great art.

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A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value

Test and pictures demonstrate what homonyms and homophones are and show how they can drastically alter the meaning of sentences. Punctuation is used to alter some sentences meanings, which offers room for parents and educators to extend learning.

Positive Messages

English can be weird, interesting, and hilarious. Wordplay is fun, and you can learn from it.

Positive Role Models

Illustrations feature humans, animals, animals behaving like humans, gnomes, monsters, mermaids, and even a mummy. Humans of many skin colors represented, as are several multiracial families and groups of friends.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that No Reading Allowed: The WORST Read-Aloud Book Ever, by best-selling authors Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, brings back Ptolemy the Pterodactyl from their P Is for Pterodactyl to teach readers about homonyms and homophones. These tricky words are mashed into sound-alike sentences that have drastically different meanings, resulting in absurdly funny situations. A "fowl feat" and "foul feet," "raining" and "reigning" cats and dogs, "four mermaids" and "former maids," represent just a handful of the giggle-worthy wordplay showcased in this language lover's playground of a book. Carefully placed punctuation that alters meaning offers readers another opportunity for learning. Illustrator Bryce Gladfelter's helpfully explanatory pictures are sure to entertain. That said, some words and sentences are quite sophisticated and may require an adult for clarification. Suitable for all ages, but new and fluent readers may get the most out of it. Of course, No Reading Allowed begs to be read-aloud.

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What's the story?

NO READING ALLOWED begins with a prediction from Ptolemy the Pterodactyl (P is for Pterodactyl) that though sentences in the book "may sound exactly the same, they will mean hilariously different things." Each two-page spread features one, two, or four pairs of sound-the-same sentences and pictures that mostly demonstrate their different (and often silly) meanings. For example, the drawing for "Beware the sharp turn" shows a car rounding a turn on a cliffside road, while the picture for "Beware the sharp tern," shows a bird (the tern) in a bow-tie and glasses reciting a math equation. "The Worst Glossary Ever. Again" at the back of the book helpfully reprises most of the homonyms and homophones featured in the book.

Is it any good?

This wildly entertaining collection of wordplay is a joy to read again and again. No Reading Allowed is like its predecessor P is for Pterodactyl in terms of its obsession with the quirkiness of the English language, and just as pleasing. Delightfully silly pairings like "His pants are tapered" (a '90s break dancer in baggy, tapered pants) and "His pants are tapired," (as in the animals called tapirs clinging to a man's lower pant legs). Sticklers for grammar may have their feathers ruffled a tad by the creative license the authors take when making an adjective or a verb out of words almost exclusively used as nouns, but young readers are likely to find it punny and imaginative. Bryce Gladfelter's well-imagined and laugh-inducing illustrations enhance meaning-making and provide lots for little eyes to linger on. Finding the green, fuzzy monster on many of the pages is added fun. This subversively educational pick will have readers of all ages laughing, groaning, and learning.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pictures in No Reading Allowed. How do the illustrations help you to understand unfamiliar words and the meaning of the sentence pairs? How would this book be different if it had no pictures?

  • What were some of your favorite sentence pairs? What made them funny or memorable?

  • Some adults might call this an educational book. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and funny stories

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