You Read to Me and I'll Read to You

by Janet Schulman

Knopf, September, 2001.
Hardcover, 256 pages.
ISBN: 0375810838
Ages 4-8

You Read to Me and I'll Read to You by Janet Schulman You Read to Me and I'll Read to You is an anthology with a purpose. This collection of twentieth century stories for the elementary school child is intended to point out the best stories and illustrators, while uniting families in the shared experience of enjoying books and reading. Of all the possible choices of the editor to approach this mighty task, Janet Schulman clearly has the most powerful track record. First, she edited the bestselling anthology of 1998, The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury which was a Book-of-the-Month club main selection. Second, Janet Schulman has a forty year career in children's publishing, which started at Macmillan as Director of Children's Marketing and moved to Random House and last as Editor-at-Large where she was Theodore Geisel's (Dr. Seuss's) editor. One would surely conclude that she has an encyclopedic knowledge of children's literature.

In You Read to Me and I'll Read to You, Ms. Schulman has worked hard to target the child who can now read on his own, but who would really enjoy reading with a parent or grandparent. After all, an entertaining and knowledgeable guide can help a young reader through the jungle of available literature, and very enjoyable authors who might have been missed can be experienced. Often students on their weekly trip to the library make entirely random selections governed more by chance or a classroom assignment. While random browsing and assignments have brought all readers some memorable discoveries, a student will have met so many delightful new paths and adventures in reading this anthology that he will perhaps make reading widely an enduring habit.

The stories in this anthology were selected with two criteria in mind: they should be real literature and they should be appealing to children. The editor decided against abridgements and only one story, "Daniel Pinkwater's Blue Moose," was shortened because it was a little too long. The stories were field-tested on actual children or at least read aloud to see how they would sound. Variety was also considered to be important. The original illustrations from the actual books were also retained, so that the flavor of the book itself was maintained. The stories range from humorous to inspiring. Favorite authors such as Judith Viorst, Judy Blume and Roald Dahl are represented as are equally beloved illustrators such as Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, and Edward Gorey.

Educators have been urging families to read together most of the 20th century, in hopes that it will stimulate reading as well as offer a more mind expanding activity than watching TV. This anthology is a the perfect choice, either for reading aloud at home or on a road trip. It will cost less than a month's worth of movie rentals and it will pay dividends for years.

--Sarah Reaves White

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This review was published in the February, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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