Pictured above is the newest addition to our classroom library: TOGETHER WE RIDE by Valerie Bolling and Kaylani Juanita (Chronicle). Yes, I know it’s an empty book stand. But that’s just because ever since it arrived, the book has been passed from one marker-stained set of hands to the next, and never makes it back to the shelf long enough for me to get a photo.
In this vibrant, joyful picture book, a young girl learns to ride a bike with the help of her father. The story is simple and the milestone is familiar, which I think is precisely why it has captivated my young readers so thoroughly.
Additionally, as one kindergartner put it, “the word part is a little tiny.” TOGETHER WE RIDE’s brief text allowed us to read it twice in one sitting, which is helpful to any teacher (or parent) faced with demands of “again.” On the first read, we dug into the language. Although there are only about 30 words in the entire text, the rich vocabulary provides opportunities to discover what a “quick stride” is or what it means to “coast.” And everyone had something to say about learning to ride a bike, falling into bushes (oh, how kids love sharing a falling story), or the cute dog in the illustrations. By the second read, the children were able to read along with me and they LOVE when that happens! And now, they are reading TOGETHER WE RIDE mostly on their own. With the steady rhythm and memorable rhymes, their five-year-old renditions sound like chants, or even cheers.
When the children aren’t reading TOGETHER WE RIDE, they are flinging off the dust jacket in the ultimate bookish magic trick to peek at the art on the case cover beneath—a closeup of the happy bike-riding family complete with fruit stickers on the protagonist’s helmet. The illustrations are bright and cheery, filled with energetic, reassuring scenes of trying, falling, and getting up again. Despite the Golden Gate Bridge in the background of several spreads, the kindergartners insist that this story takes place in their own New York City—but that’s just wishful thinking.
TOGETHER WE RIDE is a perfect spring time read for the littlest picture book fans.
And CONGRATULATIONS to Linda Hume for winning a copy of ABDUL’S STORY by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Tiffany Rose!