Why don’t more words begin with the letter X? (And other mysteries of the universe)

Posted on: 6 September 2011

A Call for a New Alphabet, by Jef Czekaj

What I perceive as Elizabeth’s reluctance to read for herself baffles me. We rarely have TV on during the week. We read together all of the time. Many of her friends seem to be quite proficient readers. She recognizes the value of reading – especially for all of the things she sees advertised and believes she needs.

My finds at the library this week include a copy of Usborne Parents’ Guide – Help Your Child to Read and Write, by Fiona Chandler. It reminds me that learning to read is one of the hardest things a child will ever do. I tell myself Elizabeth will become a reader when she is ready. Yet when I see young children who are deeply immersed in their own independent reading, I hope she will soon share this experience.

In the meantime, I remind myself of how lucky I am to be a parent reading to my children during a time when incredibly fun books are available. Any day that begins with or ends with a laugh from the book we are reading feels like winning a jackpot! A Call for a New Alphabet is an educational hoot! While my daughters don’t fully appreciate this story yet, it has humour that works on many levels, beginner to advanced.

I never have imagined that vowels and consonants could be so much fun; the author gives each their own personality and ‘issues’. It is understandable that ‘X’ would lead the charge for a new alphabet — who wouldn’t be upset being so near the end of the alphabet and starting off so few words? But as he dozes off to sleep the night before the letters vote on a change, ‘X’ dreams deeply and begins to appreciate the complexity of all the other letters. It is fun in a comic book style, and a good read for an older child because it will reinforce grammar rules.

Does ‘X’ succeed? Well, you will need to pick it up to find out. Be prepared to laugh — this is one craftily written and illustrated story.


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