Read how two pigs started this best selling series.




"hear me read" series - behind the scenes

Like most parents, I wanted to help our first grader become a good reader.

So each night, Matthew and I would sit on the brown sofa in our living room where I listened to him read.

Every night, he was assigned reading from the same blue book about two pink pigs. Every night, I listened faithfully to the adventures of "Pat and Pan," the two pink pigs.

And every night, it was boring.

My heart was breaking. As an educator, I knew it was important for Matthew to practice reading. As a parent, I wanted him to love reading.

But this wasn't right: I dreaded our fifteen minutes on the sofa. Matthew wasn't too excited about this, either.

One night, I got fed up.

I said, "Matthew, you're learning so much about these two pink pigs. What if I wrote you a Bible story?"

Matthew thought a minute and said, "David and Goliath is my favorite."

Fifteen minutes later, I came back from my desk with "Bing!" a 24 word story about David and Goliath. I used natural language, or the kind of words Matthew might use if he were telling the story.

I emphasized suspense and action, because I wanted Matthew to eagerly reach for the next page. I built-in prediction and word repetition. As an educator, I knew these were important elements for emerging readers.

And it worked.

Even without illustrations, Matthew could read most of "Bing!" Best of all, he enjoyed it!

I knew this was a winning concept: children could learn to read and learn Bible stories at the same time.

Illustrator Dennis Jones added colorful illustrations. The affordable price has made the items popular with parents who put them in Easter baskets and Christmas stockings, churches that purchase full sets to use in pews reserved for "families with young children," outreach committee members who leave books with families they visit and Sunday school teachers who buy them by the case for attendance prizes and gifts.

Christian day school teachers, caregivers in daycare and extended day programs, and church and school librarians also buy complete sets of the books.

What a success story! More than one million books have been sold in the English language alone. "Hear Me Read" books are available in Spanish, Russian, German, Australian, Arabic, Afrikaans and Indonesian editions.

There are 18 Hear Me Read-Level One and 8 Hear Me Read-Level Two titles.

Perhaps the greatest measure of success, though, has come in hearing how God has used the books:
  • The mother in Minneapolis, who came to me with tears in her eyes. "My son is 17 years old," she said. "He has Down's Syndrome. Yours are the first books he's ever been able to read by himself about Jesus."

  • The mother of a seven year old who was struggling with reading. We talked at a convention in Denver, and she bought a book. The next day, when the exhibit hall opened, she came running up to the table where I sat. "Jeremy can read. I didn't cook supper last night. I was too excited. I took him next door to the neighbor so she could hear him read your book. Jeremy can read! Jeremy can really read."

  • The grandmother who was caring for her grandson, Benjamin, for a weekend. She had bought a couple "Hear Me Read" titles for him to use while at her house in Florida. The result: "Benji learned to read over the weekend. His parents are going to be so happy."

As an educator, I know that there are many elements that must come together for a child to read. The process of teaching a child to read begins when parents surround a newborn with language.

An adult sings, coos, talks, and soon, the infant responds. As a child grows up, he needs to be read to, see others reading and have books and magazines available all the time.

I'm grateful that so many children can hold up one of my books and say, "Come, hear me read."

All text Copyright 2018 by Dr. Mary Manz Simon.