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Special K's first reading lesson

Special K has asked me several times to learn to read. Before we started, she could already read several words like "ok", "no", "on" and "Deeprun Tram".

As soon as the reading books arrived, Special K wanted to read them. She read the first two books of the first set of the Bob Books. Together we read the first book of the first set of Dora Phonics Together we read the first Dora book and book 9 of the Bob books. The Dora books are way too advanced for the absolute beginning reader, but she really loves Dora.

I taught my sister to read almost twenty years ago, and the Bob books are a lot easier and more interesting than the Peter and Jane books we read. However Special and I started to have the same frustrating problem where phonics didn't make sense to Special K. They never made much sense to my sister either. Sure Special K knows every letter sound and can sound out C A T, but to get from there to the word 'cat' is a huge leap.

In reality I don't read that way and my mom tells the story of how she tried to teach me to read. "r-a-t, what's that word?" I replied brightly "Mouse!" I remember a teacher taught me to read in preschool, but I forget quite how.

I've memorized thousands of words and word chunks. On the rare occasion I encounter an unfamilar word, I never sound out the word letter by letter, I process it as a chunks. With my sister, phonics only made sense after she had learned to read as tool to learn harder compound words, not as a tool for learning to read.

I was beginning to think the same might be true for my daughter, but the Bob books are much more clever than the books twenty years ago. They have words like Mac, and Mat and rhyming words like bags and rags. After she read bags, I told her rags was very similar to bags except it started with r, and she got it.

I've heard of some other movement like whole language or some such. If I had more time and patience, I might look it up. I took a brief look at this DISTAR book, and to be honest, it looked so tedious and difficult for the poor parent, not to mention the child. You had to move your hand in a certain way. A total nonstarter for a person with a movement disorder. And each lesson didn't seem to tell a story. What's the point in reading to a 4-year-old if you can't read a story? But then I'm afraid most reading theories make me want to beat my head against a wall. "Did you bother to make it fun and exciting?" as well as fit with your theory.

But if you have any fun and exciting recommendations, please let me know.


( 12 notes — Leave a note )
Jul. 13th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
Phonics never made sense to me either, and I was also an early reader. I don't remember how I got *it* but really, I think it was just my parents reading fairy tales to me and it all snapped together and then I was reading THEM the stories.

Betcha K will do that really really soon too.;)
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
Aww, that's sweet. I can totally picture you reading fairy stories as a little kid.
Jul. 14th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
Dr. Seuss!

Cat in the Hat!
Houghton Mifflin asked Ted to write and illustrate a children's primer using only 225 "new-reader" vocabulary words.
(from http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm)

Fun! Silly! Easy to read!

The rest are all good too -- Fox in Socks, Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham, etc.
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
What a great idea! Thanks! We'll totally do that when we graduate from the Bob books.
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)
Ian's just learning to read, too. If you go to the public library, the children's section will probably have a whole shelf of easy readers. Ian gets the very easy readers, and they're not phonics, they're whole language.

The difference between phonics and whole language is that whole language emphasized reading pages, not the sounds of letters and words. You work on looking at the picture, and guessing what the word is in context. So, whole language books have a lot of pictures, and are repetetive. For instance, one book called "The sandcastle" has a simple sentence with a photograph of a girl building a sandcastle on each page - "Look at the sand." (page 2) "Look at the shovel". (Page 3) Look at the pail. etc. They get the pattern, and start to realize that L-O-O-K spells look, then guess at the last word by looking at what's in the picture. Ian comes out of his skin he's so excited when he reads a whole book by himself.

Another way to re-inforce whole language is by making up cards with words on them to put all around her room. One for her bed (that says BED), her chair, her door, etc, so she has a lot of word recognition. By getting that word recognition, she'll start to form rules of language instinctively in her head. Her brain will do the work that phonics books are trying to do.

If you want any more ideas, just ask, because I took a class "teaching reading to the young child" when I was an early childhood education major many years ago.
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
I heard about labeling things. I think we'll try that together. Special K definitely already guesses words in context. That's why she can read "Deeprun Tram" and other words from World of Warcraft. I think that game gave her a reachable goal and showed her the utility of reading on her own. She can always ask someone else to read her books. She's not interested in WoW anymore. Probably because I'm not.

I'll go to the library and take a look at the whole language readers. Our library has a bunch of readers. But some of them like the Bob Readers are for library use only. Dunno why. I dunno what school of thought the Bob Reader come from, but it's easy to guess the words from the pictures.
Jul. 14th, 2006 05:04 am (UTC)
I've memorized thousands of words and word chunks. On the rare occasion I encounter an unfamilar word, I never sound out the word letter by letter, I process it as a chunks.

That's how I read as well. I shocked everyone by teaching myself to read when I was two. Couldn't understand the words, but seemed to have a natural grasp of chunks and phonetics.
Jul. 14th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
Wow, as Special K would say "You're a reading star!"
Jul. 14th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
url for bobbooks
http://www.bobbooks.com/ has a sample for those
who would like to check them out.
Jul. 19th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Phonics is a desperate attempt to make sense out of non-sensical English spelling. If we spoke Spanish, phonics would make all the sense in the world.

I missed a bunch of critical phonics lessons due to illness as a child, and as a result am a horrid speller. Especially with the second vowel of longer words that is ambigious sounding. Or, maybe I'd be a poor speller even with those phonics lessons. ;-)

Cognative psychology has figured out a lot about how people read; it's definately in chunks and phrases, with a lot of contextual interpretation thrown in.

Ellis has been reading for about a year now, I think. He taught himself. It's amazing to see him just grab a book and sit down by himself to read.

Other things we learned at an early literacy talk that might be helpful are:
- Reading things out loud from a lot of sources (newspaper, grocery lists, mail, calendar, computer, labels, signs, etc.) as they are relevent in your life. Just make a tiny effort to read out loud more; don't go around changing things dramatically.
- Moving your fingers over words in books as you read them to your child.
- Talk about the structure of books (cover, title page, author, headings, even punctuation).

Another easy reading book series I love is the "Little Bear" series. Beautifully illustrated by Maurice Sendak, they tell charming stories using very similar and repetitive language. Not so much rhyming (which is too bad), but lots of repetition.
Jul. 20th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
I didn't know Ellis could read. Good for him! I think Special K could teach herself also since I certainly didn't teach her the first few words she learned. However I think she recognises it's a good way to spend some 1:1 time with me and I hope I can make the process easier and more fun.

And I love "Little Bear"!
Jul. 26th, 2006 02:45 pm (UTC)
Finally saw the Bob books last weekend. Very cool.
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