Cake
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    • I have posted before about my favorite book and method for teaching children to read. But I thought a new article in the New York Times would be worth starting a new post.

      As a parent and grandparent this book has been a huge success for us.

    • This saddens me.

      It also found that fewer children enjoy reading, and that this dwindled with age: nearly twice as many five to eight-year-olds as 14 to 16-year-olds said they took pleasure from reading. Overall, just 53% of children said they enjoyed reading “very much” or “quite a lot” – the lowest level since 2013.

    • I wonder if children were better readers if that would help? Are the adults in their lives reading to set a good example? Also, do they spend time at libraries? I took my children to the library frequently to let them pick out whatever books they were interested in. I try to do the same thing for the grandkids nearby. They love to go to our library and pick out the books they want to read. Reading is something they love to do.

    • It is good that this book is based on phonetic principles, not on whole language. But judging by photos on Amazon and by Google preview, it seems way too prescriptive, and not in a good way, just too wordy and repetitive without a good reason.

      Also, it does not seem to follow a good system. Kids need first to learn how to read phonetic words, like "ant" or "cat" or "bin". Then they need to be introduced to more complex variations in English language, which are not phonetic, but can be easily formalized. And then, at the later stages, they need to memorize the exceptions to the rules, but still not as pictures, but as non-standard pronunciations.

      Instead of using standard symbols of International Phonetic Alphabet the book creates its own symbols for sounds using standard English letters. This makes confusing experience, like "Say 'mmmaaat'," what does it mean? Three "m", three "a" and one "t"? Or is it "holding the sounds but not stopping between the sounds"?

      Then there is the pronunciation guide. The authors say that symbol "ē" must be pronounced "ēēē", giving the example "eat". Seriously, explaining "ē" through triple "ē"? This recursive definition does not explain much. By the way, there is no definition either immediately before or after the table what the bar means. As someone who already knows how to read, a parent may think, "the bar above means I need to hold the sound". But why three "ē" can better describe a single "ē" than a single "ē" itself?

      Ok, what about "ō"? The authors say it should be pronounced as "ōōō". Then they give an example, "over". What? "o" in "over" is pronounced as [oʊ], it is a diphthong, while "e" in "eat" is pronounced as [iː]. One may argue that both [oʊ] and [iː] are long vowels, and there is no long vowel [o:] in English... but there is! There is a long "o" like in the word "all" [o:l]. So, the notation is unsystematic and confusing to say the least.

      When teaching how to read open syllables, instead of giving clear instructions how to read them (for example, "letter 'e' at the end makes preceding vowel sound like it is spelled in alphabet") they sort of hide the terminating "e", pretending it is not there, and put a bar over "A" to indicate that it is a long vowel, like "TĀKe". Again, "a" in the word "take" sounds like /eɪ/ not like /ɑː/, throwing off anyone who thought that the bar means simply elongated sound. By doing this, they are conflating regular writing "take" with transcription [teɪk], and nothing good is going to come out of it.

      Books like this is the fodder for whole language supporters, who claim that phonics is complicated, has no rhyme and reason, and bores kids to death.

      Stay away from this book. The authors mention "Why Johnny Can't Read" by Rudolf Flesch. It is a critique of look-say a.k.a. whole language a.k.a. balanced literacy method, written in 1955; at the end it has just 20 or 30 pages of training material, ordered with much greater care, which allows to teach your kid one topic at a time, from monosyllabic phonetic words to multisyllabic words to various exceptions, many of which are not exactly exceptions and can be formalized. If you have nothing better, use Flesch's book, it will do more good that this 2-pound 400-page door stop.