With Josh, there wasn’t any “Yay, he’s reading!” moment. We would read with him every night at bedtime. I vaguely remember trying to get him to sound out letters in a word; he was not interested. I didn’t push it. Then one day, it seems, he was reading and that was that. I don’t remember doing phonics with him.
Zoë (4yo), on the other hand, had been doing letter sounds whenever she sees letters, instead of calling out the letter names. She has been trying to sound out the words that she wants to write. She would occasionally get a few right, but many of her words are mostly consonants. For example, Cinderella would be “Sndrla” or Jasmine would be “Jazmin.” Anyway, because of this, we started to get her to read some of the simpler words whenever we’d read to her.
I came across the Read Write, Inc, Phonics series at the local library and decided to check out a couple of books for Zoë. SO glad I did. The books were simple enough for her to sound out/read all by herself. The stories are short, with a touch of humor that the kids could easily relate to –which makes the child that much more willing to patiently sound out/read the words. Being able to read the stories “all by myself!” definitely boosts their reading confidence and gets them all the more motivated to tackle other books in the more advanced levels.
What I really like about the books:
- The stories are short enough, but still interesting (not dry a la "David and Jane run. David and Jane play. David and Jane sleep."); often humorous, which the kids will definitely appreciate.
- The illustrations are fun and colorful.
- There is a section prior to each story where you "practice" the letter sounds first to get the child familiarized with the letter sounds for when he/she attempts the words in the story. There is also a section for Green words (words found in the story that the children could sound out) and Red words (sight words). It really helps to do this section at the beginning of each story (no matter that some of the Red words are the same for most stories).
- There are questions to ask the child at the end of each story to make sure they understood what they have read. These are great “discussion starters.”
- There are Speed Words for each story --words that appeared in the story for the child to review and practice reading (in and out of order).
There are five books to each level. We are currently working our way through Level 6 (blue). I am not totally clear on how these levels are structured in the non-fiction series as some books in the lower levels have some more challenging words than some books in the higher levels. That said, we are sticking to going through each of the levels in order, although I don’t fuss too much if Zoë sometimes chooses to read a book from a different level to the one that she’s currently working on.
It has been really wonderful going through each book with her. Reading these books alongside Zoë has been such a joy --seeing her aha! moments and witnessing the growing confidence in being able to read independently and best of all, being able to share in her delight as she goes through her reading journey.
Here is a link to a video of Ruth Miskin explaining synthetic phonics and sharing some top tips on teaching your child to read: http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/Videos/toptips-ruth.html