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READ FOR ME, MAMA by Vashanti Rahaman


by Vashanti Rahaman & illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56397-313-8
Publisher: Boyds Mills

 A young boy's desperate wish for his mother to read to him forces her to come to terms with her own illiteracy. Joseph is the only child of a single, working mother and so hungry for knowledge that he corrals every available adult to read to him. The school librarian gives him two books each week: one to read on his own, and a more difficult one for someone else to read to him. Joseph's mama is a great storyteller, but is always too busy to read to Joseph. When Joseph's mentor from the local laundromat, Mr. Beharry, is unexpectedly called away, Joseph again presses his mother into action. She breaks down, weeping, and tries to tell him the truth, which he doesn't fully understand until she prays for help the following Sunday in church. A fellow worshiper tells Joseph's mother about the vocational school where she eventually learns to read, capable, in the last scene, of reading to her son. Rahaman (see review, above) creates a poignant story that is at its best in simple moments, as when Joseph's mother misses a schedule change at work because (readers realize) she couldn't read the posting. Painterly illustrations by McElrath-Eslick work in harmony with the text, showing the warmth between Joseph and his mother, as well as their humble, homey surroundings. (Picture book. 6-10)