CAN YOU START A READING PROGRAM WITH PIZZA AND ICE CREAM?
Well, have you ever tried to start a car without turning on the ignition? Aha! You see my point.
Long ago and far away, in 1989 when I taught my son to read, no materials existed that suited his learning needs and interests. Right. So I made them. I knew what unlocked his heart and mind, and built personal books on those topics. For him, those were books on trains, drums, his sister…
Years later when I founded this reading program, I still had to reach out and engage our sometimes-reluctant readers. (Sometimes? Okay, often.) So early reading books about pizza, spaghetti, mac & cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter were born.
That gets the reading car read to roll.
But that’s just the start. Now we’ve got the engine running, but we’ve got to get it in first gear. We have to please the schools and get those early word lists solidly in the brain. For me, that meant designing a series of early reading books teaching those word lists.
Whatever first word lists your child’s school uses, it boils down to virtually the same thing. I chose the long-revered Dolch list because it teaches the words most frequently read by learners in K through 2nd, and that’s where we start.
engage and retain
The next step is equally important: make sure those materials are designed to engage the brain as well as the heart. That means a specific visual design, along with teaching techniques that are based on right hemisphere learning, techniques that make retention amazingly fast.
HEART AND BRAIN
All of this goes to the core of my motto, “Go in through the heart and teach to the brain.” My book Whole Child Reading walks you easily through the start-to-finish process of teaching this curriculum, and I include it in every one of my reading bundles.