This comprehensive book is a 295-page theory document and instructional reference manual on teaching someone--anyone--to read. The author believes that none of the traditional reading teaching methods (whole language, memorization, or phonics) is sufficient on its own, but rather that the best parts of all three methods should be used in conjunction. This book is not written specifically for homeschoolers, but since one of the key stumbling blocks of new homeschoolers is "I can't teach my child to read," the book has great relevance and application in the homeschool community. If this book doesn't convince you that it's possible, and even fun, then nothing will!
The author has extensive experience in teaching people of all ages and abilities to read, or read more fluently. Her love of what she does comes across clearly in her book. For someone who is struggling to believe they can accomplish the daunting task of teaching someone to read, this book may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it is easy to read, wonderfully illustrated, and systematic.
The book is divided into six units. I will outline each unit briefly, but there is too much packed into each section to list in full!
Unit One: Getting Started
Here Ms. Peoples discusses figuring out the student's learning style, identifying whether any physical problems may be preventing accurate comprehension and application of reading skills, knowing the interests of the student so that the material can be geared toward things they like, getting the family involved, implementing general instructional procedures, and starting with basic sight words and vowel sounds as a base.
Unit Two: Basic Phonics and the Most Used Sight Words
This unit begins the formal phonics and sight word instruction. It starts with upper and lowercase letter recognition followed by consonants that only make one sound, consonants that make more than one sound, consonant blends and diagraphs, more common sight words, and short and long vowel sounds. Each lesson gives procedures for teaching the concept, daily lesson plans, illustrations that you can use with the student to illustrate what is being taught, and "Silly Stories" that help with retention of phonics rules.
Unit Three: Using Consonants and Vowels to Decode Words and Next Used Sight Words
Unit Three introduces the rules used for decoding. Each lesson presents a new rule, using silly stories, games, charts, and illustrations to make the rule memorable. Each lesson also starts with an "Instructor Background" section that gives the teacher the reasons and rules that are being taught without the accompanying memory aids. It also tells how long each lesson should take to teach on average. Some of the rules in this section include c-v-c patterns, long vowels, silent "e," and suffixes.
Unit Four: More Most Used Phonics Rules and the Most Used Sight Words
This unit is very similar to Unit Three, except that it introduces additional rules (in the same manner as above). Some of the rules and concepts taught in this lesson are vowel diagraphs and vowels controlled by consonants (such as "r" and "w").
Unit Five: Decoding Longer Words Using Syllable Rules, More Suffixes, Compound Words and Contractions
As indicated in its lengthy and descriptive title, Unit Five continues to give more rules for decoding of longer words, including compound words and multi-syllabic words. The various sounds of "y" are discussed, as well as contractions.
Unit Six: How to Make Sense from Written Words
Now that the reader has all of the basics of word decoding down pat, Unit Six goes a step beyond that to making words make sense. The concepts of sentences, punctuation, paragraph divisions, context, and reading comprehension are taught in this unit. Fun stories give the reader practice in these concepts, and the procedure for each lesson is explained in step-by-step detail.
The last section in the book is a set of nine appendixes. These are lists of the rules, phonetic and sight words, the silly stories (in order of appearance), and other helpful reference tools.
I will admit, when I first saw this "tome," I thought it would be too overwhelming for someone who was already insecure about teaching reading. But as I dissected the contents, I realized that it should be every homeschool-mom-of-a-kindergartener's best friend. (This would also be true for a mom of a reading-challenged child.) Ms. Peoples has taken all the work out of it and made it understandable, easy, and fun. I have taught three children to read (one with dyslexia and learning challenges) and tutored several others, and this is a book I wish I'd had. I highly recommend it for anyone who is plunging into the dark and icy waters of reading instruction.