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Review: Words + Numbers = 1derful “Wumbers”

Published on: December 30, 2013


One of the first words the Wizard of Why learned to read was “no.” This meant that everywhere

we went he had to ask what the “no” signs said. “No what?” he would constantly ask

from the backseat of the car, the jump seat on the double stroller, or just his spot walking

next to me on the sidewalk. Thus we spent a lot of his third — and so far all of his fourth —

year, reading things like “no parking”, “no smoking”, “no loitering.”

This book came along at just the right time. We are not quite learning how to read, but we are definitely recognizing a few words and intrigued by the idea that one day we might be able to read. This is a great book for that age. (And a lot of other ages, as I mention below.)

wumbersTitle: Wumbers

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrator: Tom Lichtenfeld (of Sharks vs. Trains and Duck! Rabbit! fame)

Genres: Picture Book, Numbers

Ages: 3–7

Book review and how to use this book with kids: This is a fun, whimsical book. It’s almost like a comic book — each page is a beautiful picture. Then each picture has a caption written in “wumbers,” a mix of words and numbers. For example: One picture shows two kids in the kitchen below a cookie jar. One kid says “Here’s the plan. I’ll climb to the s2l and go st8 to the cookie jar. You be on the lookout 4 mom.” The other one chimes in, “Okay, but I’m frigh10d.”

While the nonsensical spelling might seem to be overwhelming to a young reader, I think it’s the opposite. It shows them how to look at each word for each sound on the page. It shows them that each word is made up of sounds and that some of those sounds may be familiar in other ways.

You could make a great game of this. How many words can your child think of that use the sound “8”″ or “2”? At my house, that would keep the kids in their seats at the dinner table for a few extra minutes at least.

Older children will like the book, too, and it will throw them off their reading game in a healthy way, making them stop to think about the words and the sounds. They will also likely laugh at the illustrations and the captions. You can go further with your challenges to older kids. How is the sound “8” spelled in different words? What about straight? Trait? Fate? Weight?

If you are a teacher, or a babysitter on a rainy day, or the parent of kids who enjoy pen and paper work, you could easily have fun making up your own pictures and captions, and before you know it you might have a sequel!

wendy_lawrence_2About the Author:

Wendy Lawrence is a Seattle native who is now living with her husband and two young sons in Ann Arbor, Mich. A longtime educator and former middle school head at Eastside Prep in Kirkland, she now blogs about parenting and books at The Family That Reads Together.

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