The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read

cover man

The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read by Irma Simonton Black is a tender tale about an old craftsman who loves his toy-making work so much that he fails to make time for other important things – like learning to read. In this funny but educational little story, children learn, through the toymaker’s experience, why it is important to take the time and put in the effort to learn to read. Like a well told fable, this story entertains while it teaches.

Our toymaker’s wife goes on a little trip. While she is gone, the toymaker has to do his own grocery shopping.


Unable to read, the little old man moves between the grocery store aisles looking for tins, packets, and boxes that have pictures in their labels.

shopping 2

Unwilling to ask for help, the little old man has to guess at the contents of every item.


When the little old man returns home from his shopping, we laugh at his mistakes: waxed paper instead of spaghetti, coffee instead of pasta sauce, salt instead of oatmeal, soap instead of sugar, and buttermilk instead of regular milk.


My children laughed their way through this tale and were happy to see how well the little old man learns his lesson by the end.

The picture book is a lovely size. Smaller than regular full size picture books, but not so small that the reader can’t get lost in the pictures. Half of the pages are illustrated in black and white while the other half are in full color. I appreciate the alternating color vs. black/white choice as it seems to add another layer of dimension to the story. 

A sweet tale, this would make a great gift to a little one getting ready for kindergarten as well as being a charming book for a homeschooler’s morning basket.