Learning to read is a process of decoding abstract symbols (letters) to form meaningful patterns. In the process, we learn the name for these letters. Having gone that far, we quickly suppress that knowledge from our reading -- except when we solve rebuses. In this humorous children's book, William Steig takes those names of letters and numbers and shows us another way to decode the symbols to form meaning. For those who are just past the beginning reader stage, this provides an opportunity to play with words and take new enjoyment from their flexible forms.
The title of the book is an example. You simply say the letters and think of a word that sound represents: C -- See; D -- Dee (the, with a little imagination); B -- Bee . . . or See the bee!
The back of the book's jacket has some examples to help you get the technique. When letters and numbers are connected by hyphens, that means that they combine into one word: B - 4 is "before."
Each sentence or brief paragraph also comes with a wonderful cartoon, drawn in Mr. Steig's familiar style from his work for The New Yorker. These images gives clues as to what the sentences say. In this edition of the book, water colors have been added to make the images more appealing. This also relieves the abstractness of the "sentences" (or S-N-T-N-C-S).
B-4 U P-N-K, R-M-M-B-R D K N D N-D. So you can get everyone right, even if you cannot decipher them without help!
Children find this book fascinating and fun. It also encourages them to use their natural tendency to be creative with spelling.
A good follow-on exercise is to rewrite the sentences in the book using other combinations of letters.
After this book pales, you can go on to rebuses or Pig Latin, or any other form of communication that is fun for both your child and you.
F U R L-K M-E U'L A-V A B-U-T-F-L T-M! N-J!