A Review of A Family of Readers

A Review of A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano, Editors of The Horn Book Magazine

By Kelly Thunstrom

The Horn Book Magazine, around since 1924, continues to be the most respected review journal for books for young readers.  Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief, and Martha V. Parravano, executive editor, lead a wonderfully informative book on how to grow this family of readers.  Whether you have a baby or a teen, or anywhere in between, I guarantee that you will finish this book with brand new insights.  It will perhaps change your view of children’s literature as a whole.  I know it did mine.


Sutton and Parravano divide their book into four sections pertaining to each stage of child development: Reading to Them, Reading with Them, Reading on Their Own, and Leaving Them Alone.  Within each section, there is an introduction or overview by Sutton or Parravano.  The reader is then treated to essays or interviews by the “best in the business”.  Charlotte Zolotow, Jon Scieszka, Cynthia Voight, Virginia Hamilton, Betsy Byars, Russell Freedman, and even Maurice Sendak, for goodness sake, provide contributions.  Each essay provides a very specific viewpoint, such as “What makes a good Mother Goose?”, “What makes a good dinosaur book?”, and the painstaking decisions that go into picture book design.  Every single one is worth reading.  There are, of course, suggestions at the end of each mini-section, providing lists of the best of the best.  If a great historical fiction or fantasy book is what you are after, this book has you covered.


I am hoping to interview Martha Parravano within the next few weeks.  There are definitely things in this book I had never thought of as an educator.  For example, Sutton says that one of the most famous books ever made, The Cat in the Hat, is “astonishingly disrespectful”, but that’s OK.  He also says that “There still will be times when your child needs to read secretly a book you don’t know about.”  I want to probe this statement a little further, as I think some parents may have a problem with this.

If you want to develop reading in your family from the very beginning, look no further than A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature.


Kelly Thunstrom has been teaching for almost 15 years, working with the fourth, fifth, and seventh grades full-time.  She has been named to Who’s Who in Education, as well as awarded the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence in Education.  Kelly is editor and publisher of 1776books, which provides reviews of various types of books.  She also writes book reviews for Bookloons, local theater reviews for Stage Partners, and is the arts reviewer for the local Patch syndicates.


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