Book Review: The Reading Lesson

The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child To Read In 20 Easy Lessons, by Michael Levin and Charan Langton

This book was, admittedly, a book that I was somewhat disappointed in and that had at least some elements of it that I could approve of. On the one hand, the book adopts mostly a very basic phonics approach to reading, and uses various aids to make it easier for the reader to pronounce words that are being taught, but on the other hand there is a lot of emphasis on see and spell teaching of words, especially animals, that are far above the level of difficulty in the actual words being taught phonetically. On the one hand, the authors provide a look at family that includes a father, mother, brother, sister, as well as a pet dog and a pet cat, but on the other hand the book occasionally contains content that is quite alarming to hear coming from a small child, including a great many bossy commands and the query “Will you kiss me?” This particular book was published twenty years ago, and so it avoids the worst of contemporary moral tendencies and shows people reading books and not using a great many cell phones and other technology that was not as widely available to small children in 2000, but it certainly demonstrates a coarsening trend when it comes to the sort of language that we teach children to read and say that is less than ideal.

In terms of its contents, this book contains 20 chapters, each of which is a lesson in a few sounds. In this book, the following sounds are explored: c, o, s, a, t (1), m, d, r (2), g, e, th (3), n, i, f (4), u, b, h (5), e, ee, ea, l, p (6), a, sh, w (7), i, st (8), ar, k (9), er, ir, ur (10), y, oo (11), a, ai, ay, wh (12), o, oa, ow (13), ch, j, u (14), v, y (15), x, z (16), qu, ing (17), ou, ow, th (18), ew, igh (19), and c, g, ph (20). Each of the chapters uses various alphabet sounds based on animals and other items, and uses matching, connecting words and pictures, basic rhymes, all lowercase letters and frequently fragmented and rather rudely phrased sentences to repeat. Later chapters move beyond one-syllable words to look at words of two syllables and sometimes include basic stories to teach how to use a group of sounds. Moreover, each of the lessons of this book provide a discussion at the beginning about the lesson that is being taught and how it is approached that is a page long and easy enough for the teacher of this book to read and understand. The issue is that the book has some rough spots and the mixture of phonics and see and spell is certainly an uncomfortable one, although the book makes it clear why it is that so many children seem to know animals well because such words are among the earliest that are taught to young readers.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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