Do you have someone in your family—young or old—who struggles with reading the English language at the expected level of competency? Being a good reader is vital, in order for school children to succeed in all their other subjects of study. Being a poor reader makes adult life very difficult, too.
A while back I read an eye-opening book called Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children. It was written by Samuel Blumenfeld, who died in 2015 at age 89, and Alex Newman. From that book I learned of Samuel Blumenfeld’s book called Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers. Apparently, Samuel Blumenfeld dedicated much of his life to supporting the teaching of reading by means of phonics.
The Crimes of the Educators book emphasized just how important the Alpha-Phonics book may be for some people. Many schools have taught reading by means of the “whole-word” method, a very ineffective method. Basically, it means readers learn by memorizing words by sight, rather than learning what sounds the letters represent. It can cause students great frustration. Not only that, but a French doctor by the name of Dahaene scientifically proved that learning to read whole words by sight can cause dyslexia. Many children may be acting out and many high school students may be dropping out due to their exasperation over not being able to read at an acceptable level.
Crimes of the Educators reveals that educators have known for years that whole-word reading was causing big problems for children trying to learn to read. In 1955 a book called Why Johnny Can’t Read was published. There has been a long struggle between those who want students to be taught whole-word reading and those who want them to be taught phonics-based reading.
My own state of Oregon is currently in a debate over requiring reading to be taught by phonics. They call it “science-based” reading education. Though some of the legislators want to require school districts to teach reading by phonics, some say they should only recommend it and must allow school districts to choose their own curriculum. I see no reason why they couldn’t compromise by allowing districts to choose their own reading curriculum, as long as it is based on phonics.
The Alpha-Phonics book was designed so that any teacher, tutor, or parent could teach the skill of reading by means of the phonics method. Even students or adults who have failed at reading because of the whole-word approach could be helped to be successful at reading. There is a heart-warming story in Appendix A of Crimes of the Educators. A teacher took time to transform the lives of some high school students by teaching them to read by using the Alpha-Phonics book.
The Alpha-Phonics book contains 128 pages of lessons. The pages following contain the “Teacher’s Manual.” The back pages contain some “Pre-reading Alphabet Exercises.” Each student will need their own book, to follow along. There is a spiral-bound “Workbook” edition for the students that doesn’t contain the Teacher’s Manual. If you have a student or group of students struggling with reading, this book may be life-changing.
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