CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 24. . . .February 25th, 2011.
What Are You Doing?
Elisa Amado. Illustrated by Manuel Monroy.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7
Review by Natalie Schembri.
**** / 4
Chepito ran all the way home from school.
He went in the door and sat down on a
chair. He pulled a book out of his bag.
“What are you doing?” said his mother.
“I’m reading a book,” answered Chepito.
What Are You Doing? celebrates a child’s exposure to the wonderful world of reading. As young Chepito wanders about in the neighborhood, he witnesses many individuals engaging in relationships with an assortment of reading materials. The softly-colored and delightful illustrations of Manuel Monroy reveal a man reading a newspaper, a girl amused by her comic book, a young woman leafing through a travel guidebook, the mechanic deciphering a car manual, a young woman perusing a beauty magazine, and the archeologist analyzing hieroglyphics. Monroy’s charming illustrations of characters engaging in reading complement Amado’s endorsement of the everyday reading experience. Amado includes various types of readers and reading materials in her story as examples of the array of reading possibilities and formats available for children to joyfully engage with.
Young Chepito pleasingly observes his community’s dedication to the act of reading. What Are You Doing? provides Chepito, and early readers of the story, with role models for emergent reading. Chepito gazes admiringly at the various readers in the story and becomes motivated to engage in the stimulating act of reading. Amado’s story highly emphasizes the importance of positive reading role models and reading environments for children in their early years to foster a relationship with books for life-long learning. Young Chepito follows the example of the various individuals in the story and selects a book from the classroom shelf to start his own relationship with reading. Although he is still learning to read the words of the page, Chepito is enthused to tell stories with the pictures. Chepito’s readiness to read is an inspirational example for emergent readers of the story. Like the active readers in the story, Chepito also becomes a ready-to-read role model for children to admire.
This story serves as a fantastic tool to show children the great advantages of reading. Chepito curiously questions “Why, why, why?” to all the readers in the story in order to understand their motivation behind their selected reading material. The repetition of “Why, why, why?” provides early readers with various insights to the benefits and pleasures of reading. Later on, when Chepito’s younger sister asks him, “Why, why, why?” he provides his own response: “Because it’s fun.” Further, Chepito’s repetitive questions throughout the story engage child readers in a conversation with the storybook characters about the importance of reading.
I would highly recommend What Are You Doing? for librarians and teachers to include in their collections because the book appealingly promotes the act of reading in an array of formats. What Are You Doing? is a positive example for early readers to understand the value and pleasure of reading. Elisa Amado’s words and Manuel Monroy’s illustrations tell a story that allows children to see themselves as the central subjects: emergent readers.
Natalie Schembri, a Masters student living in London, ON, likes to read illustrated children’s books.
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