Picture Words Phonics Readers
A classic case of being "born out of necessity" and a mom determined to find the key for her struggling-to-learn-to-read son. This unusual, phonics-based reading program will prompt the longed-for "click" for some types of students. Not for your usual visual learner types, like me. I took to letters and words like a duck to water and never looked back. However, there are other stories and those of us who are mothers to those "other stories" sometimes find ourselves desperate. There are students who are picture learners, right-brain learners, etc. where learning letters and words are way too much like learning a foreign language - a very difficult foreign language. If you're a typical visual person, you will thumb through this book, appreciate the lovely photographs and bright colors, but conclude that it is much too busy and complicated to be a serious, learning to read program. But what about the six year old, frustratingly unable to remember a "g" from one day to the next, who glimpses the large letter "G" (tube letter) superimposed onto a colorful photo of a goat? Really, who could forget "g" after that? Especially if you have a whole book made of those letters/photos. And not just for "g;" there's a fish for "f," a panda for "p," and monkeys for "m." etc.
I hope you are beginning to sense the specialness of this program. Each phonogram - starting with consonants and short vowels - is associated with a photo (gorgeous photos, frankly) that communicates the phonogram sound. Because all the letters in this reader are tube letters, the association continues throughout the books - long enough to make a solid dent in one's memory. Even when the letters become smaller (about 5/16" by the end of Book One and 3/8" in Books Two and Three), the association remains - largely due to the careful placement of color elements within the letter. The picture association doesn't end with just the letters. Letter combinations also have their own association - for instance, chicks for "ch;" the St. Louis arch for "ar;" a shark for "sh," and a cow for "ck." Wait a minute - a cow for "ck?" I actually had to skim back through the text because I didn't get the association (and then felt like a dunce - what sound does cow start with?) I was thrown by the switch to an ending sound pattern. My picture-learner son would never have had that problem. One of the interesting aspects of these associations is using the same picture for two different letter groupings that make the same sound. For instance, "ur," "ir," and "er" are all represented by a photo of a Greek urn. And, by the way, long vowels use a different picture than do short vowels.
Like other manual-type reading programs, all you need is right here in these three volumes. Letters are presented one or two on a page to begin. From the start there is letter blending or "pushing the sounds together into a word" - sometimes as word family parts ("am") or as parts of words ("ma . . . ."). Text that accompanies the picture letters are of two types. The author maintains that letters have jobs to do. Those jobs and little stories about those jobs are provided as larger red text. These are to be read to the child. Small black notations are for the teacher and are things she/he needs to know at that point - maybe pronunciation suggestions, maybe activity suggestions. Simple, practical suggestions abound: "using newly-read words in a sentence makes them real to your student" or "when words become interesting or odd, always check to see if your student knows what these new words mean" and then later "big words are like hamburgers, take them one bite at a time." The general approach is phonogram presentation, then word family association, followed by reading practice.
Book One provides 200 lessons - each one page in the book. Pages start with letter introduction, quickly progress to reading columns of words, then sentences along with lists of words. Some basic language arts concepts are covered - capitals, ending punctuation, plurals and possessives. Toward the end of the book, an Aesop's fable and a classic poem are part of the reading practice. At the beginning, the book is started and restarted daily (each day going a little further) until content is conquered. The ending five pages is a complete picture dictionary of all sounds presented.
Book Two provides 244 lessons which include a complete review plus a combination of advanced phonograms (three/four letter digraphs), large word syllabication, confusing words - are/air or to/two/too, specialized vocabulary, sight words, and more stories.
Book Three provides a collection of fables, witticisms, proverbs, and quotes (some from Christian authors).
Each book is spiral-bound with heavy-weight, glossy paper. ~ Janice