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And Then Mama Said... It Takes Time to Learn to Read Review by Lyria Moore, Melissa Theberge, and Dawn Oaks

Gena Suarez
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
12430 Tesson Ferry Road #186
Saint Louis, MO 63128

Learning to read is a difficult process for some. Children might feel like they're getting left behind by their peers even in a home schooled environment if they are the only ones who don't know how to read in the family or group. This book can ease the anxiety a child might feel by watching another go through a similar situation.

The story starts out with a frog named Splish. Splish is crying because he can't read and it seems like everyone else can. He asks his Mama how long it will take for him to learn to read. His Mama tells him the theme of the book, "It takes time to learn to read." Mama works with Splish on his letter sounds, but it's putting the sounds together that Splish seems to have trouble with. He keeps working at it all winter and one day in the Spring, Splish can read! He's so happy and realizes what Mama said was true. He could learn to read. It just took some time.

Children will love the fun illustrations and details in the pictures. It was wonderful following Splish on his journey to learning how to read. Children will be able to see Splish's bad feelings about not being able to read resolved and gain hope for their situation. This is a good read aloud book, as children can understand how hard it is to keep trying at something you really want to do and not be able to do it.

Gena Suarez has written a beautiful and truthful book for children that shares with them the joys and heartaches of learning to read. She seeks to encourage every child to understand that everyone is different so comparing yourself to others doesn't work. We all need to be reminded that with a little perseverance, we can accomplish great things.

Product Review by Lyria Moore, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2009

What an encouraging book this is for budding readers! Learning to read can be often challenging, sometimes discouraging, and eventually rewarding. This little gem of a book is the ideal travel companion through this important phase of life.

This small soft-cover book is a brightly-colored, engaging story about Splish, a young homeschooled frog who is trying to learn to read. Splish’s Mama works with him to practice his reading, but it continues to be a struggle. Mama encourages him repeatedly with her wise words, “it takes time to learn to read,” but Splish isn’t sure it will ever happen, especially when his friends talk about all the exciting books they are already reading. Finally, after a long sleepy winter, Splish emerges a bit older and more grown up. When he sits down to read with Mama, he finds that he now understands how the letters work together and that he can read.

The lessons in this story are numerous, but most especially, Splish’s character models both patience and perseverance. Splish learns that everyone grows and learns at their own pace, and in our home this is a tough lesson for the youngest, who is always yearning to match her sisters’ accomplishments. Just when it seems she is out of patience, we ask her to keep trying, to persevere with learning to read or with learning to ride a bike, or with any other new task. What a character-building experience this can be! For these reasons, she connected immediately with Splish and found great comfort in his struggles and accomplishments. This book sits right alongside our reading lesson books and is a top request in those moments of frustration. I love having a book like this to offer comfort and encouragement after reading lessons.

Shaped in an 8.5 inch square, each pair of facing pages is set up similarly. The left page has a white background with several paragraphs of the story to be read. On the right is a full page color picture to go along with the story. The colors are bright and the art has a unique digital look with crisp outlining, giving it a playful feeling. The final two pages offer an unexpected treat —one page includes a list of more challenging vocabulary words such as amphibian, camouflage, and hibernation, and the other page has a story-related word search and answer key. The words from both activities would be fun to hunt for during a read-aloud session. Not only can this book be enjoyed as a read-aloud, but it might be fun for a newly independent reader to read this book to Mom like Splish!

Gena Suarez successfully captures the struggle of learning to read and places it all so adeptly against the backdrop of supportive parents, kind friends, and an atmosphere of encouragement. This, of course, is exactly what we desire the backdrop to be in our own homes as we support our emerging readers, making Splish’s story a model for the whole homeschool family, not just for the child learning to read. Patience and perseverance are key ingredients to teaching and learning in all subject areas and at all ages. I wasn’t expecting to find a lesson for me imbedded in this frog-pond story, but this homeschooling mom was indeed reminded of the need for patience and perseverance required in teaching all subjects, including reading.

Product Review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2009

And Then Mama Said . . . It Takes Time to Learn to Read is a wonderful resource for the entire family. We faced this very challenge in our own family as our son struggled in attempts to read independently, and it truly affects everyone. Having a struggling or late reader can bring any homeschooling mom to her knees as she battles her own self-confidence in her ability to meet this challenge. And, of course, the walls of self-worth and confidence seem to disintegrate with each passing day that the child struggles to read. Siblings are urged to show grace and understanding by helping to encourage and not discourage the struggler.

Suarez is quick to remind parents through the prose of the story that they know their child better than anyone else. No one else has better intentions or insights into the special needs of this particular child. Her persistence in reinforcing the necessity of reading aloud to your child is also critically important and integrated into the story in a very natural way.

The natural emotional response of anger at not being able to do what others are doing (in this case, read) is addressed directly as Splish displays a less-than-admirable attitude towards his friends and siblings. He resents that they had arrived in their abilities while he was still floundering on his lily pad. Kudos to Suarez as she not only resolves the story in demonstrating that with time, consistent work, and maturing, Splish does learn to read, but he also gains insight into how he treated others during the process and becomes repentant over his anger and resentment.

For such a short story, And Then Mama Said . . . It Takes Time to Learn to Read addresses the complex issues of self-confidence, trust, and resentment that lurk in the shadows as we address these issues in our homes. This will not speed up your child’s readiness to read or give you one hundred easy tricks, but it will most certainly provide the validation that what you and your child are experiencing is neither new nor insurmountable.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009