I began writing the Emergent Readers collection when my daughter was at her previous school, where they were learning how to read through a phonics program. She was learning to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words with flashcards and phonics activities. Then the teacher sent home a phonics reader with several CVC and sight words on a page, asking us to practice with our child. My daughter and I went through a painstaking experience – by the time my daughter sounded out each word the storyline of the book was lost. At this moment a thought occurred to me: Wouldn’t it be great if she could practice reading individual CVC words in a book format? I designed a few Emergent Readers and my daughter enjoyed reading ‘real books’. They made her believe in herself as a reader. I also shared the eBooks with her teacher and the other parents, and they loved them. The other parents felt as I did, that children who were learning how to read would feel empowered by reading one CVC word a page, and the pictures and audio buttons made reading a lot of fun too. The Emergent Readers worked so well with beginning readers at my daughter’s school that I decided to expand the collection to include CCVC (consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant) & CVCC (consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant) words.
My daughter recently transferred to a school that does not follow a phonics reading program; for reading practice she brings home readers that include sight words and words that cannot be phonetically sounded out, like “people”. This brought new challenges. As a parent and educator I encouraged my daughter to practice reading strategies: to look at the picture, try sounding the word out letter by letter, try chunking … but when these tactics fail what can you do?
This was when I decided expand the original collection of CVC, CCVC and CVCC readers to include sight words and sentences. I wanted to give beginning readers the opportunity to build of vocabulary they could sound out by slowly adding sight words to CVC, CCVC and CVCC words moving from phrases to whole sentences to build a language framework. This language structure has given my daughter the reading skills and self-confidence to read whole sentences because at the end of each patterned sentence in the Emergent Readers collection there is a word she can sound out: “He can run. He can jog.” This fuels my daughter’s confidence in her reading skills, encouraging her to try reading more difficult words, like “people”. And while she is still a little daunted by words that do not fall in either the phonic or sight word category, I feel that I am laying a solid foundation for her with the Emergent Readers. Learning to read has become a much more enjoyable experience for us, which is as it should be!