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Reading Specialist WHOLE Heartedly Agrees Part of Puzzle
on December 7, 2002
I respectfully disagree with many people in these reviews who are touting that this book is a glib solution, most especially the citation of the NRP Report!
I am a postgraduate educated Reading Specialist, and can tell you that report was compiled by numerous people who have no education on the subject of reading instruction. Also, that report is misconstrued and in schools allowed to be used as support for phonics worksheets as an isolated way to teach reading.
I don't know about you, but I didn't learn to read totally be being able to identify a picture, and writing the beginning or ending or medial sound on a blank line of a worksheet.
No, I listened. (Do those reviewers know the all too important impact of a child's listening comprehension?) I also looked at the pictures (that's called Context Clues). And I looked at word structure and vocabulary (that's called the Structural Cueing System). I made sense of what I was reading (currently referred to as metacognition).
I now remediate adolescent readers. And let me tell you - direct systematic phonics has failed them! It's because they have not made sense of their reading. What they read doesn't engage them or motivate them.
Think about it - what is your definition of reading? Do you have a scientific montage of words or is it plainly just decoding symbols to decipher meaning from the message? For me, reading is making meaning.
When children are read aloud to (as I do DAILY in my secondary remediation classes), numerous things happen in the brain. Read brain-based learning books. Then tell me how phonics worksheets are THE only and recommended way to learn. When children are read aloud to, the basis for making meaning is created.
I can guarantee you in an unscientific study that my students were NOT read to as children or even in their later lives. We may be able to get those kids past decoding in their early years - Kindergarten and First Grade - but reading aloud increases and hones listening comprehension, attention to task, and visualization - components of reading comprehension that are often overlooked.
Reading aloud creates meaning - provides motivation and engagement for kids. It is a HUGE component of reading comprehension, and should not be treated lightly.
Mem Fox does not purport ANYWHERE in this book that it is the be all and end all. She is an outstanding author who knows that fluent and fluid language is a part of the puzzle.
Readers who are looking for a quick fix and pat answers to reading difficulties - sure, yes, can look at the NRP Report, and get whatever answers they need to get.
And for those parents who perhaps misunderstand many components of reading, you really do need to consult a specialist before you make wide sweeping generalizations. For most of us, we have never given thought to how we learn to read. There are varied and enumerated reasons that a child cannot read - some of them are phonological or processing related and some of them are meaning related. For whatever reason, there is NOT just ONE answer, like NRP would have you believe.
But if you talk to any educated reading professional, he or she will tell you straight up how that report is regarded.
With the whole language vs phonics debate roaring wildly these days, I think our time is better spent -
Reading aloud to children.