Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE OLDEST STUDENT – How Mary Walker Learned to Read PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends! This is the FIRST post of the new year!

I’m so excited about this book…for many reasons. The subject of the story is an amazing woman! The author and her publisher are generously offering a copy of the book as a giveaway! And the text and illustrations are INCREDIBLE! You are in for a real treat.

the oldest student

THE OLDEST STUDENT: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Illustrated by Oge Mora

Published by Scwartz and Wade (January 7, 2020)

Ages: 4-8 (that’s what Amazon says, but I’d say it is suitable for 9-12 as well)

Themes: Perseverance, learning to read, overcoming obstacles

Synopsis from Amazon:

Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation’s oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author.

In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn.

Why I love this book:

  • I love true stories…and although the author had to fill in some assumptions to creative an engaging narrative, I would consider this nonfiction…such a picture book is a wonderful vehicle to spark interest on the part of kids and to inspire them to never give up on their dreams!
  • This is a story that is filled with heart – the unbelievable story of a woman who learned to read at the age of 116…her motto was: You Are Never Too Old To Learn – Mary Walker is my hero!
  • The wonderful illustrations add another layer of emotion – I love the color palette and the focus that is always on Mary.

And here are a few STARRED reviews the book has already received:

“A lovely, inspirational picture-book biography about beating the odds and achieving your dreams.” —Booklist, starred review

“Walker’s determination and her long, long life—she died at 121—offer genuine inspiration.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Enjoy this book with every child you know; let Mary Walker become a household name.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Make an ABC Book

alphabet-booksPhoto Courtesy:

For details on how to construct an book:

Do your children have their own library cards? If not, please visit your local library and help them get one – our libraries are wonderful resources, not only for books, but also for programs for the entire family. And don’t forget to ask your library to purchase your favorite books for their collection – check to see if they have THE OLDEST STUDENT in their catalogue…and if they don’t, please request that they add it to the shelves.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of THE OLDEST STUDENT…and please share on your social media so I can put another ticket in the giveaway hat for you.

Thank you all so much for spending your precious time with me…I’m wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year. Have you made resolutions or a set of goals or do you have a dream you are building into reality?

70 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE OLDEST STUDENT – How Mary Walker Learned to Read PLUS Giveaway

  1. What a great inspiration for littles – to see someone old learning to read! One of my, and my 2nd graders favorite stories each year was about a granddaughter teaching grandma how to read. Every year kids were surprised by who the teacher was. I loved watching the surprise dawn on their faces.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on the book, Rita! I am so excited for this one. I can’t wait to share it with my students! They could use a reminder to persevere when things get tough. Mary Walker is a true inspiration! Thank you for this opportunity to win a copy.


    • Hi CeCe, I feel the same way. I’ve been complaining about the learning curve for some of the social networks out there, and have avoided some of them like the plague. But then I think of Mary and I know I don’t have an excuse. 😀


  3. I have always told my kids and grandkiddies that we all must learn something new every day!! This story is wonderful and proves this even more!!! Thank you. 🙂


    • Hi Heavenly, what kind and beautiful words. I, too, have an elderly relative I want to inspire. She once wanted to write but now feels it’s too late. I’m hoping Mary’s story will inspire her, too.


  4. As you suggested, Vivian, this book sounds like a perfect entry into the world of reading for more than just the youngest. What a perfect vehicle for introducing the wonders of the printed word, and the magic of being able to read, to anyone – of any age- who may also just be learning English! And the cover suggests a wonderful illustration-journey inside!


  5. This looks like an outstanding book–an inspiring story combined with amazing illustrations. My grandmother went back to complete her high school diploma late in life because it always bothered her that she left before graduating due to difficult circumstances. She was far younger than 116, but her perseverance and her humility about her accomplishments are a constant source of inspiration for me. And she would be shocked by that–she always thought that the things she did were so ordinary.


  6. I am THRILLED that our school has just voted on this to be our February (school-wide) Book of the Month! Our teachers and students will be so excited to dig into this text!! We just can’t wait!


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