Word Games in the 21st Century: Thanks William Steig

I can still remember the spot on the library shelf at Maiden Choice Elementary School where I would find C D B by William Steig.

Original Cover
William Steig
new cover

As a fan of word games, I thought it was the coolest book EVER. Even after my Mom said I had to stop borrowing it, whenever I had a chance I would go to the shelf, sit on the floor, and re-read the book again and again.

I fell in love with how William Steig used a single letter to convey a whole word and then whole sentences …

R U C-P? (Are you sleepy?)
S, I M (Yes, I am).

Recognize that “R” and “U”? Have you seen or used them lately? Back in the day it was word play: we used letters for word games. Just by reading aloud a letter, we could get a whole word. In our 21st Century world we call it texting. We just sound it out in our heads. Would that make William Steig the godfather of texting? I don’t know.

But that question came to mind when Chronicle Books sent me Wumbers. As a
C D B! fan, I was instantly drawn to the book … then I saw this and crossed my fingers that it would be just as cool for the “adult” me.

Cre8ors Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have wri10 and illustr8ed this s2pendous book that is 1derful 4 readers in kindergar10 and up.

So I sat on the floor of my office and read it! It was Gr8! It not only brought back wonderful memories of those days deciphering C D B, but I was tickled to see that it also had fresh ideas and turns of phrase, too. Sporting tat2s definitely gives the book a more 21st Century feel. Kids 2day will rel8 to it in ways that would have made no sense to my 1970-ish self! [This is a screenshot from the book trailer.]

The book also maintains Steig’s use of speech bubbles to convey the ideas as a conversation. That makes for particularly fun sharing when you want to use the book as a read aloud or for partner reading. What became clear to me as I watched the Wumbers book trailer was how having the word + number combinations let the young readers use big, multi-syllable words that they wouldn’t know how to decipher otherwise.

Of course one of the other cool things about having a book like this in the 21st Century are all the different ways you can celebrate the idea of words + numbers! Check out this sign on the Wumblr blog.

Oh, the fun! Do you have your own wumber ideas? Send them to the blog! The Activity and Teacher’s Guides both have great suggestions for using wumbers and word games to help with spelling, rhyming, and creative writing.

Classic word games for the 21st Century reader! Rad!


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