Merriam-Webster’s Ready-for-School Words: 1,000 Words for Big Kids by Hannah Campbell, illustrated by Sara Rhys

Merriam-Webster’s Ready-for-School Words: 1,000 Words for Big Kids by Hannah Campbell, illustrated by Sara Rhys. Merriam-Webster Kids, 2022. 9780877791249

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? I didn’t think a vocabulary picture book could measure up to those by Richard Scarry, but this one comes close. The book is populated by members of seven families with diverse ethnic, racial, and religious identities, as well as those with various parent/care-giver types (grandmother, single mom, mixed race parents and same sex parents) that are introduced through family portraits and descriptions at the beginning. The chapters that follow are each on a different theme – “Welcome to Class”, “A Trip to the Doctor”, “By the Seaside,” for example. Each chapter shows various members of the seven families interacting and doing many activities, with vocabulary labeling clothing, food, and whatever else is in the double page spread.

Illustrations have the feel of pencil drawings, and are warm and descriptive with just the right level of detail. There are opportunities to search and find, as well: “Ms. Khan uses a shopping list to remember what she needs to buy. Can you help her find the bananas?” Kids can point out the bananas, and identify lots of other fruits too. Although there isn’t a story here, or the drollness of Scarry’s Busytown, it’s a charming book for families who like quiet books with lots of interactive possibilities. I can also imagine the book to be quite useful for families who are learning English. A table of contents and exhaustive index make the book user-friendly.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Offer this to families who like Richard Scarry books. Appropriate for ages 3 and up.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries, and useful as an ESL tool as well.

Where would you shelve it ? 423 or picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s worth having on your radar.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 3, 2022

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