Wordplay for Kids: A Sourcebook of Poems, Rhymes, and Read-Alouds. By Tim Wadham. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015. 225 p. Paper $50 (ISBN: 0-8389-1266-9).

Tim Wadham brings his considerable expertise in children’s literature to the table in Wordplay for Kids. Previously a youth services coordinator of the Maricopa County Library District in Phoenix, Arizona, Wadham is the director of the Puyallup Public Library in Puyallup, Washington and author of a picture book, The Queen of France. Wadham developed the public library programs presented in this book as a result of his work with school librarians Katie Blake and Cynthia Daniels.

Through Wordplay: A Sourcebook of Poems, Rhymes, and Read-Alouds, Wadham addresses the need for quality programs for the elementary or “tween”-age child. The programs continue the learning of concepts begun in preschool story time. They have the familiar feel of PLA’s early literacy program Every Child Ready to Read. The book presents two models for shared reading: Shared Warmth, a parent and child reading program; and Wordplay for Kids. Wadham discusses the development of these programs through his work as a youth librarian in both public and school libraries. Wordplay presents the models for these two programs that develop a love of language in school age children. The first chapter details the process of creating and implementing the Shared Warmth program. Two additional chapters follow: Wordplay for five- to seven-year-olds and Wordplay for eight- to twelve-year-olds. By following the program template discussed in these two chapters, librarians are “helping develop a ‘literary ear’: artful language patterns, correct and interesting language usage and a large and rich vocabulary” (xi) The program consists of six weekly hour-long programs of choral reading, reading aloud, reciting poetry, and focused activity. Wadham encourages the use of age-appropriate classic folklore and fairy stories, fables, and Greek myths, as well as picture books, easy readers, and fiction chapter books as the read-alouds. Included in each chapter are recommended poems and nursery rhymes, either in their entirety or as first lines with a list of where the entire poem or rhyme can be found. Also included are extensive bibliographies of books for each category listed above. Some of the classic books he recommends are out of print but available through interlibrary loan. Sample program planning calendars and sample programs are shared for each age group. The book ends with a chapter devoted to a bibliography of works Wadham likes to share with children.

Is this a book for your library? By report, this was a successful program both in school and public libraries, but it will require great marketing and a strong commitment by the public librarian to maintain an audience. Wadham states that it could be adapted to be used as a curriculum for homeschoolers, which would make it an option for bringing homeschool families to the library. Libraries should explore this program if they are committed to providing programs that instill the love of language in older children. Although aimed at public libraries, this program could be used by anyone who loves to encourage and develop children’s love of reading. Public librarians, school librarians, teachers, and parents could have success in following this model.—Jenny Foster Stenis, Coordinator, Readers Services, Pioneer Library System, Norman, Oklahoma


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