Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Comparing readers

I have five sets of purchased readers and one set of readers that Doll brings home from school. Unfortunately for my pockets, I don't use them all. I discovered some were not suitable for teaching Doll to read while some others were right up my alley. Here is my comparison of the readers I have at home. (All of my readers are purchased from Popular bookshop)
This set of readers focuses on sight words.
As you can see, at the top right corner of each booklet, there is an indication of which sight words a book is emphasizing.
The other reader set I own is the 'First Little Readers'. Its target audience is for beginning readers. I suppose that means those who already have some foundation in reading.
A peep inside one of the books.
These two sets are very similar. Most of the words are repeated throughout the books. I bought these readers as I had thought it would be a good start to teach Doll new words.
Now, here is why I have stopped using these two sets for Doll. First, I felt that these readers are not suitable for beginning readers. The words used are too sophisticated (for the lack of a better word) for young readers. I was expecting more like 'This is a ball, this is a doll' type of sentences. But alas it isn't (see picture above). This means, the child must already know quite a good number of words before embarking these readers. Or otherwise, it means the teacher has to spend a lot of time drilling on one book before she can move on to the next. It can be quite tedious.
I found that the books introduce too many new words in a particular book. Although the sentences structure is more or less the same, but the new words only appear once throughout the book. For instance the above picture, the sentence structure on the two pages are the same except for the words 'dragon' and 'astronaut'. So these two words are newly introduced words but they only appear in those two pages.
I would not recommend it if you are teaching a very young reader to read. When I say young, I mean like he or she is just starting out. These readers are not suitable for these group of children. Constant drilling may be required and this may bore and tire the child.  I may use it for more mature readers to further increase their reading vocabulary. Or those who learns to read easily by sight, like my son.

For the same reasons, I do not like the readers Doll's school uses. I thought the introduction of new words were going at too fast a pace especially for children who is just learning to recognise words.

However, it has proven to be quite effective for Doll so far. Doll is learning to read from these readers, surprisingly. I credit it to the teachers who constantly read the same book to the kids for a term, day in day out. And even, extracting some words to teach the children and drilling in the words everyday.
Now that is my point, such readers require massive amount of work and time. For the teachers to do this in school is ok but for lazy parents like me, it is just too much work.
The other reader I own is Bob books. I used to scorn at these books when Sonshine was learning to read. I thought it was too simple, boring and too slow. Also because, he didn't learn to read by phonics more by sight words. But now that I have a different learner in Doll, I cannot help but think this set of reader is fantastic. In fact, it propelled her into reading.
I  highly recommend Bob books for children who are learning to read by phonics. These are especially suitable for those who are learning to blend CVC words. These books give very good opportunities for the child to practise blending and also give them the confidence in reading. When Doll realised she could read the entire book all by herself, it gave her massive confidence in reading. After this, Doll's reading went up by many notches.
Another set of readers I used to roll my eyeballs at is the Peter and Jane series. I had forgotten this was the same reader my teachers used in school to teach me to read. Because of Doll's learning style, I had re-discover the beauty of this series.
Why is this set of readers so popular? Unlike the first two readers I mentioned, Peter and Jane books start off with very simple words. Words that a child can easily relate to. The new words gradually appear and get repeated (like crazy) throughout the book.
I like that they restructure the sentences using the same words. This erases the possibility that the child is memorising. Let me explain. For the first three readers I mentioned, the sentence structure is the same throughout a book. When a child 'reads' it, like when Doll comes back and rattle off her school readers, it makes one wonder if the child is memorising the words (because it get repeated) or she can really read each and every word.
However, in Peter and Jane series, the structure changes but the words are the same. So it forces the child to really look at the words rather than going by the 'rhythm' (like reciting nursery rhymes).
I guess each readers have it strengths. My comparisons are solely based on Doll's learning ability. For her learning style (need repetition and lots of practise), she needs Bob books and Peter and Jane series are the best fit. However, the first three readers are excellent for children who read by sight and pick up reading easily, like my son. To find out which readers suit your child best, you got to know what kind of learner he or she is and then pick out the readers that is most suitable. Well, I had to do a lot of trial and error on that as one can see! But I am glad that I have finally found what works for Doll! Yay! 

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