Margaret Heller began her career as a first grade teacher and it didn’t take her long to discover that there weren’t too many books out there that her students could read independently, so in the 1950s she began writing her own children’s stories, including the simple retellings of common fairy tales and the introduction of the Dear Dragon series. These were among the first books with a controlled vocabulary similar to the Dick and Jane Readers.
The Dear Dragon Beginning-To-Read Series became very popular and numerous illustrators (Carl Kock, David Helton, and Craig Deeley) have taken their hand in portraying this loveable character. Dear Dragon is featured in books about holidays and seasons, sports, and visits to common locations such as the zoo or the circus. In the New Dear Dragon books, beginning in 2008 with Dear Dragon, A Is For Apple, David Schimmell has created an adorable version of this creature sure to appeal to both children and adults. In the most current book, Dear Dragon Goes to the Library, our pet dragon friend helps his buddy return a pile of books to the local public library where they join other children in listening to the librarian read a story, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and drawing dot-to-dot pictures. Then they select some new books from the library shelves to borrow which they read together after they’ve returned home. Not only is this story readable, it presents the public library as an interesting and exciting place to visit plus it promotes a love for books. At the end of this story are some ideas for Reading Reinforcement, including Phonics, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Text Comprehension. There is also a list of the vocabulary from the text to review with the child.
Hilbert’s life spanned 94 years and her passing a year ago on October 11, 2014, is lamented by librarians all over the world. Yet she leaves behind a catalog of over 80 books which children today can still enjoy.
I wish to thank Netgalley and Norwood House Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Four Stars.