One of the Great Read Aloud Books:
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Children's Book Review by Steve Barancik


Book Title: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems

Book Type: Picture book

I would prescribe this book for this kind of child: Any and every kid from age 2 to reading age. Especially good for reading to groups.

I think this book is a: great book.

Review: I love this book more with each passing year.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus won an Honorable Mention in 2004 for the American Library Association's Caldecott Award, honoring the best in children's book illustrations.

So yes, Mo Willems' simple, silly drawings are amazing. But that's not why I love this book.

I spend a fair amount of time reading to groups of children. I volunteer at a local Head Start center to do just that. And I can tell you...

...there is no book (that I know of) that goes over with a huge group of fidgety preschoolers more than Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.


First off, it's humorous

Kids love to laugh. And this book is funny in a way that little kids get.

But I don't think that's the reason kids mob me when I show up and start shouting, "Did you bring the pigeon???"

I think kids relate to this book because they think it puts them in the role of parents. It lets kids say, "No." Out loud. A lot.

And, as you can imagine, saying, "No," is a lot more fun than hearing "No."


Here's how it works

At the beginning of the book, the bus driver has to leave his bus alone for awhile. He asks the readers - the kids - if they'll watch the bus for him. Oh, and he has one special instruction for them:

"Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!"

Well, next thing you know, this crazy pigeon shows up. And sure enough...he's desperate to drive the bus. He keeps asking - in lots of different, amusing ways - and it's the job of the kids to say, "No."

And boy, do they love saying it! No. No. No. No. No. It never gets tired.

Finally, the bus driver gets back and thanks them for their good work. Then he leaves. Then a truck pulls up...and you should see the little pigeon's eyes light up.

The end.

It's that simple. But kids - whether singly or in groups - just eat it up, again and again. Which explains how Don't Let the Pigeon came to be a New York Times Bestseller and an instant classic of children's literature - regardless of how silly it is.


It's interactive

Do be aware that this is a book that invites children to talk aloud and respond. They love that. But sometimes they have to be reminded as you read the next book that now it's time for listening. Review continues.

Kids tell pigeon he can't drive the bus

That said, The Pigeon has become a phenomenon. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has actually been adapted for children's musical theater, and there are now a series of Pigeon books, as well as Pigeon t-shirts, plush toys and the like. (Beats Disney Princess gear if you ask me!)

So if you want to get across the notion that reading is fun - whether for one child or a whole herd of them - it's impossible to beat Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Give your child the joy of saying, "NO!"

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