You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You – Very Short Stories To Read Together

You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You – Very Short Stories To Read Together

Written by Mary Ann Hoberman, Little, Brown and Co./ Megan Tingley Books, 2001.

The first of the long running series of You Read To Me books. We never planned more than one. Mary Ann Hoberman, whom I did not know at the time, came up with the idea of using a two column format with two voices to dialogue back and forth, encouraging early readers to read together with someone else, presumably someone who reads better. Not the first time poems for two voices had ever been used, and not the fist time the expression  -You read to me, I’ll read to you – was used either, but together with editor Megan Tingley, they put together the book as an idea for encouraging reading. Mary Ann had worked with literacy groups so had some prior involvement and experience.

And interesting technical note: This is the only book I have ever done, and possibly anyone’s ever done, where the illustrations were drawn with a cheap “BIC” ballpoint pen (before coloring with watercolor paint and pastel). At the time I was struggling with getting a loose line with my art and this squiggly pen line got me going again. It began when I was sketching on a hotel napkin during a speaking trip with a ballpoint. It made me relax, so I figured it would work for the final artwork as well. I could have been in trouble as I was not certain the line was waterproof. Since I was going to use watercolor that could have been a serious problem to discover at the last moment. But I was unsure of myself and tortured as usual with doubts I could pull it off. I’ll use any trick to fool myself into thinking the job is not a big deal, to let myself relax and create a loose line. I’ve always had a problem “tightening up” when transcribing the final art from my loose sketches. In this case, a cheap pen helped.

I had no idea this would be the first book of a series at the time, or I might have thought twice about it. As it was I never used the same pen line again. It gives too little control, something I was looking for at the time. Since then, for this series I have used a permanent ink pen (for YRTMIRTY fairytales) and finally mechanical pencil. I did not like the result of the darker permanent pen line. It bled too much into the paper making smaller details get all mushy. I think it ruined about a third of the art (for me) I wish I never made that decision, but there you go…

I also used “the scrubbed pastel” color for some backgrounds in this book that I made up for my previous book, Welcome Back Sun, in a similar attempt to overcome a perceived inadequacy in my technique…

(more to come)


Fifteen weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. Reaching #2 on the list. 

Notable Book, American Library Association 2002

A Best Book, 2001, Chicago Parent


“Celebrate the joy of reading together with this collection of very short stories…A perfect present for the emergent readers…”

 –Carolina Parent

“The stories are winning…Michael Emberley’s pictures often have visual jokes of their own, which refresh the reading moment.”

 –Chicago Tribune

“Two readers can share the spotlight as they read these 13 very short stories designed to be read together. Grade: A-.”

 –Rocky Mountain New

“This book is a perfect “warm-up” for helping performers listen to each other.”

 –Book Links

 “Playful rhymes celebrate the sheer joy of reading in this exuberant read-aloud collection…what fun this is for readers and listeners alike.”


 “A delightful choreography of rhythm, rhyme, and repetition that begs to be read aloud in tandem by children and adults…. The combination of short, rhythmic stories and cheerful art is a winning one, making this title a valuable addition to picture book collections.”

  –School Library Journal – * starred review

“The energy never flags…It’s a worthy message…lightly but strongly delivered.”


 “Each poem bounces back and forth between readers beautifully…the art is nicely varied and thoughtfully designed to complement each of the double-page spread selections.”

  –Horn Book

 “A little gem for little readers! It should be in every house and classroom of beginning readers.”

 — Jim Trelease, Reading Tree Productions

“Playful rhymes celebrate the sheer joy of reading in this exuberant read- aloud collection…Hoberman draws upon such universally kid-pleasing themes as frolicking in the snow and frisky puppies, liberally infusing them with copious amounts of silliness.”

 – Kirkus

 “The energy never flags, neither in Hoberman’s trademark bouncy rhythms nor in Emberley’s exuberant illustrations…”


— Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley’s You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You has been chosen by Chicago Parent as a Best Book 2001. “Here’s a happy choice for parent-child or sibling read-alouds…What better way to make reading a fun family affair…”