Beginner Reader, BACK TO SCHOOL, by Ella May Woodman


When asked to review this book, I was very excited. As a children’s book author as well as an adult book author, I love to see the work of fellow authors in this genre. It’s nice to share the love of writing for children with someone who “gets” me, lol.

The cover presented a fun reader for students going back to school. Once I started reading it, however, the beginning portion of the book was addressed to parents,  and caregivers. So I thought the Reader was for parents to understand what to expect for their children once they started school. I thought what a good idea.

Suddenly, the reader opened into a story directed to kids done in rhyme about going back to school. I thought this was a good story, but why was it included in the reader directed to parents and caregivers…

The story was followed by a list of word opposites to match up. For a reader for children, this is a great thing to accompany a beginner reader. However, it’s suddenly switched to  Dolch and Fry Lists which I’m certain beginner readers will not be interested in or understand. So this made me rethink the reader was meant to be aimed at Parents and Caregivers, but in actuality, it was more directed to teachers.

The lists proceed to reference words that are in the story done in rhyme that are associated with grades one through three according to the Dolch list. When addressing the included Fry list, there’s an in-depth discussion of words included in the Fry list inclusive of grades 3-9. This is suppose to be a Beginner Reader for ages 5, 6, and 7?

There is no way this book is now being addressed to parents and caregivers but now academics, and most certainly not children at a beginner reading level. I’m confused.  In the Parent, Teacher and Caregiver Resource Guide section, the author begins by describing how they can help to make the reader useful to their children.  She then proceeds to explain how a student may stumble over the words “the” or “you”… When I read the story at the beginning of the reader, it held words like: laughter, everyone, favorite, science, nervous… I would think “the” and “you” is the least of their worries.

I must question the age level and grade level of this particular reader. Although an interesting concept, is it really a Beginner level reader?  I also wonder at the full understanding of the Dolch and Fry list and whether this information would be included in a Beginner Reader for children.  Reference materials and guides usually are not something provided to children, and most certainly helpful, but not for the young audience comprised of Beginner Readers.  Perhaps, this information is sectioned off better in the printed version of the reader and clearly titled and laid out away from the actual story for the beginner reader.  The story in itself is clever and would make a small separate source of inspiration and entertainment for back to school kids and with the tweaking of certain words, a great beginner reader or early reader depending on the words chosen and grade defined it aims at.

I completely understand that the author wants to provide an excellent story for children and guidance for the accompanying adult to refer to. I just am not sure the lists were necessary if that accompanying adult is to be a parent/caregiver. If a teacher, then they would already know this information and could find the “lists” insulting? I think a separation of material with a more definitive and distinct format is needed.  Clarification as to whom the reader is for is also needed done by including and excluding only the information to fill that clarification. The illustrations are for a younger audience.

The concept is interesting. I think there’s great potential for success with this idea. It just requires tweaking.  As it stands, I give this book:



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