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Erika has reached the point in her learning-to-read journey where it's possible for her to read and enjoy the easiest of the easy readers at the library. This is after spending the last YEAR working quite regularly on learning how to read.

There is something wrong with this picture, and it's not a problem with my kid's reading ability. It's a problem with the available books.

For example, take the book, "Rabbit and Turtle Go to School," by Lucy Floyd. This is a "Level 1" book in the series "Green Light Readers" from Harcourt.

Page one reads, "Let's race to school," said Rabbit."

For those of us who already know how to read, it seems easy. But for someone just learning, it's not nearly as simple. There is something complicated about every single word. "Let's" contains an apostrophe. "Race" contains a long vowel. "To" contains the vowel most commonly written, "oo". "School" contains a complicated initial consonant cluster and the "oo" vowel. "Said" contains an irregular vowel. And "Rabbit" has two syllables. Not a single word on this page is a simple short-vowel CVC, CCVC, or CVCC word. In order to be able to read this page, a person either must have memorized the words, or must have a fairly advanced knowledge of the letter-sound correspondences of the English language.

So why is this a "Level 1" book? Why is every one of the dozens of "level 1" books in the library like this?

The only answer I can come up with is that children in my area are typically being taught to read using a method that emphasizes the memorization of words. If they were being taught phonics, the easy readers wouldn't look anything like this.

That said, it is nice that Erika has learned enough phonics that it's possible for her to read these books. I just wish there'd been something for her at the library sooner.


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August 2014

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