Monday, July 25, 2011

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons by Siegried Engelmann, Phyllis Maddox, and Elaine Bruner

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons by Siegried Engelmann, Phyllis Maddox, and Elaine Bruner is a disappointment.  In my search to find a book that will help my son and his wife teach my grand-daughter to read, I first sought the book I used to teach my children to read.  Unfortunately, it is out of print and so I looked into whatever books I could find in the public library.  This one is recommended on amazon.com so I began with it.  I looked it over before passing it onto my son to allow him to decide for himself if he might find it useful.

My reservations are simple enough.  The use of macrons and breves to designate long and short vowels is less useful, in my mind, that teaching a child that when vowels are paired the first vowel becomes a long vowel.  This is further confused because the editors make the second vowel physically smaller than the first which, I suppose, is meant to show the child it is silent or merely there for support. 

Last time I checked, outside of a dictionary a child is not likely to have these aids to pronunciation and teaching a child to rely on such tools is not only unnecessary (I certainly didn’t use them to learn to read nor teach my children myself) but I would suspect downright crippling.  A crutch is useful when needed but can and will weaken the body if used beyond the point of its usefulness. 

In spite of my misgivings, I passed the library copy off to my son and was relieved when he and his wife both said that they were not thrilled with it.  Confusing is one word that was used and I concur.  There is a lot of text on the page and you are not told to write the words in a notebook or anywhere else.  Rather, as the cover would suggest, you teach the child from the book itself.  But if you use the Look Inside feature on amazon.com and choose “Surprise Me” you’ll get some idea of how much is on the page, including what the parent reads aloud to the child and what the child is supposed to focus upon, apparently ignoring all of the other text.  Now, I am sure there are children who could do this, ignore everything but the big and bold letters but I know my children and at least one of them would have been looking to read all of the words on the page.  (And if your surprise page includes 218, you will see what I mean about the different sized letters and, what I didn’t mention before, how they ignore capitalization rules.  Frankly, this is a habit that texting will teach them.  I don’t think we need to start teaching children not to capitalize the first letter in sentences before they even know how to read.  Nor do you have to emphasize the necessity of it.  Children are remarkably capable of grasping this concept on their own without anyone really pointing it out to them.)

So our search continues for a book that we like, that we think Bibi will like and my son and his wife will enjoy using.  This book is simply not in league with the one that is out of print.  

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