Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First Readers, Then and Now

I know I've talked about this before, but this is a true pet peeve of mine with the publishing industry and those that label elementary reading books.

We look at books labeled Step 1, ready to read. The tag on the back of the book says: Does your child know the alphabet? Is your child eager to begin reading? Step 1 is the perfect step.  Now, let's look at how this book is not a legitimate Step 1 book.

Let's take a book that reads:

"Mix and stir.  Sew all day."

I am on board with the first sentence.  The second sentence blows me away.  Sew? a beginning reading soon?  it looks like 'sue' and is pronounced 'so.'  Also, 'day,' a long vowel and a virtually silent y.  

"Lights that glow."

Lights?  Really?  Sugar reads each individual letter and I can see her disappointed when I tell her, yes, that is the sound of all the letters, but it is pronounced 'lites."  Glow, phonetically is not glow.  There is no reason for that o to be long to a beginning reader.  The best reason I came up with… "it just is, sweetie."

"Birthday candles shining bright."

All 2 syllable words, a little challenging but not awful.  I just have to explain away 'day,' the nearly silent e in candles, the 2 different sounds of i in 'shining,' and the 'ight' sound again.

And finally, "goodies to share"

The double o is challenging, but well worth teaching.  'ies' is another one of those sounds that Sugar tries so hard to sound each letter and looks dejected when I correct her.  And as long as I am content with her sounding the e in share, I only had to tell he she was wrong once in 3 words.

I counted up all the words I had to tell Sugar she did wrong in this books.  Ready for the number?  43 out of 87 total words.  Less than half, that's good, I guess, unless you are just learning to read the feel like you are doing it all wrong.

I read something once that says for every time your criticize an employee you have to praise him/her 4 times to make up for the damage and make them feel productive again.  That is for a grown up. Imagine a CHILD, being told that nearly half of every word they just tried to read is WRONG.  No wonder they get discouraged about reading and give up.

Sugar and I moved back to the books I learned to read with 30 years ago.  

She read, "The dog. The dog ran." and "The cat. The mat.  Is the cat on the mat? The cat is on the mat."  After those few words the damage done by the princess book was corrected and she felt like a winner again.  

At least we knew how to teach reading 133 years ago, or I'd have more problems teaching my kids to read. 

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