What is a special reader?
These books are written for the main purpose of teaching reading skills. They contain stories written around a specific group of words that your child is studying. New material is introduced very gradually, and there is frequent review of old material. Phonics is taught like math with each idea practiced until it is mastered. These books are called decodable readers or linguistic readers.
Can these readers be used as a child’s sole reading instruction?
No. It is important that this type of work be supplemented with high quality children’s literature. In the above video, you hear a mom discussing how games and audio books are used to supplement work in the reader. Often, as a child progresses, the readers are used less and eventually stopped completely. They are very useful for teaching phonics to young children and increasing a child’s sight vocabulary. They can also be helpful with fluency issues.
I. Just beginning to read
- Bob Books. These books are perfect for the child who has learned sounds and is just putting them together into words. Start with these books when introducing a young child to reading. They are available from www.bobbooks.com and many other sources. These are available in five sets on three levels. They cover typical kindergarten materials and early first grade.
- My First Phonics Readers. (Kindergarten – 1st grade). Scholastic. These can be purchased through school book clubs. They are also frequently available used on the internet.
- Starfall materials. (Kindergarten-1st grade). This website offers a wide variety of free information, stories and activities. It’s an excellent resource for reading material at early reading levels. The stories can be practiced to supplement other materials. The website www.starfall.com demonstrates correct sound blending (click on words in a story to hear the sounds blended correctly). Correct sound blending is very important if you are working with a young child.
- Primary Phonics Storybooks by Educators Publishing Service. (Kindergarten-2nd grade). This series of inexpensive readers can be used to supplement other programs like Reading Mastery or Open Court. The workbooks that go with the series are wonderful and reasonably priced, www.epsbooks.com 1-800-225-5750
II. Older Children
- Reading Mastery by SRA, McGraw Hill. (1st – 4th grade). SRA has been publishing these readers for many years. There are a variety of editions, any of which may be used if the grade level is correct for your child. Materials are often available used on the internet.
- Reading Triumphs by Macmillan/McGraw. (Kindergarden – 5th grade) This program provides support for a child who is reading two years behind in reading.
- Corrective Reading, SRA. (grades 4th -12th) provides instruction to address delays in decoding and comprehension. Separate decoding and comprehension components can be purchased through SRA, www.mcgraw-hill.co.uk/sra/correctivereading.htm. Read about the materials on the website before making a selection. You might also try internet sites such as Amazon for used materials.
- Steck Vaughn materials. Available for primary, secondary and adult levels. These materials are used in many classrooms where a phonics approach is favored. steckvaughn.hmhco.com 1-800-289-4490.
- Reading A to Z. These decodable readers are available online. The books cover many grade levels; they can be downloaded and printed. A yearly subscription fee is charged for the material, but free demo material is available. www.readinga-z.com
- Open Court Reading SRA. is a basal reading program for grades K-6. The program is designed to teach decoding, comprehension, and writing. Part 1 of each unit, Preparing to Read, focuses on phonemic awareness, sounds and letters, phonics, fluency, and word knowledge. Part 2, Reading and Responding, emphasizes reading for understanding. Part 3, Language Arts, focuses on spelling, vocabulary, and writing.
Reading by Design will help you incorporate the reader into a complete program. You will learn how to place your child in the reader and move through the stories at an optimal pace. Combine this resource with games and audio books as you design a program specific to your child’s needs.