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Reading Books

(31 Posts)
Zipitydooda Sat 12-Dec-15 10:02:10

My DS in Reception has until now been bringing home reading books with no words and they have been learning the first sounds. He is now able to blend 3 sounds into words like cat, tap, not etc.
He has just bought home his first reading book with words but cannot read any of them. It is not a phonics based book and is all focused on key words (number words) that he's never encountered.
I'm really confused about the point of this as a 'reading' book. I expected books he could attempt to read by using the knowledge he's acquired so far.
Is this usual?

catkind Sat 12-Dec-15 10:51:05

No, that's not usual. Or not right anyway, the NC requires them to be given decodable books at an appropriate level. Unless it's a book for you to read to him?

Oprah926 Sat 12-Dec-15 11:06:18

Hi there
As you will probably know there are a number of essential keywords(sight words) that cannot be read phonically. Your child would also need to start learning them at the same time for reading to make sense eg put, said etc . Maybe make a flashcard out of these word on a piece of card.
Hope this is helpful.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 12-Dec-15 12:41:03

It shouldn't be usual, but I expect it is far more common than it ought to be.

Possibly the school are still using older books because they haven't got round to replacing the outdated stock yet.

Are there any words in it that he can sound out yet? Could you read the rest of the book and get him to fill out the words he would be able to have a go at?

I'd probably ask the school if they have any decodables at his level, and if they have could they send him home with them instead.

cariadlet Sat 12-Dec-15 13:39:25

It isn't the sort of book that's going to help him; he really needs decodable books. But reading books are very expensive, get tatty after a few years of daily use and the school might be simply unable to afford to buy the number that they need.

I'd play games to help your ds to practise blending 3 letter words (eg online games or making words with magnetic letters) and not worry too much about reading the school books unless he is bringing home decodable ones.

the Book People have currently got a brilliant offer on. They have a collection of 36 Songbirds Phonics books for £16.99. Well worth getting.

catkind Sat 12-Dec-15 14:32:01

We loved the Songbirds books too. Amazing value.

mrz Sat 12-Dec-15 14:32:50

It's poor practice and really there isn't any excuse for sending home books he can't read using the phonics he's been taught.

Feenie Sat 12-Dec-15 19:11:23

As you will probably know there are a number of essential keywords(sight words) that cannot be read phonically. Your child would also need to start learning them at the same time for reading to make sense eg put, said etc


Feenie Sat 12-Dec-15 19:12:22

And why on EARTH would you need to learn 'put' by sight?!!

MrsKCastle Sat 12-Dec-15 19:22:55

Feenie, I've noticed that 'put' appears in a few 'easy' decodable books, but it certainly isn't one of the basic decodable words in my accent. I use the same short /oo/ sound as in good or could, so it would certainly be tricky to start with. No need to learn it by sight though, just introduce it later.

OP, I second (third?) the recommendation for the Songbirds pack. Sadly, many schools are still sending home these inappropriate books. Don't encourage your DC to guess or struggle with words that are too hard. Ask the school for decodables and if they can't/won't provide them, either get some from elsewhere (or make up your own decodable sentences) or read all the tricky words for him.

mrz Sat 12-Dec-15 19:35:44

It's a cvc word however you pronounce the <u> in your accent. In my northern accent it's very straightforward but like any high frequency word you get the child to identify the sounds they know already and supply the "tricky" sound so that the child can decode all through the word.
For some reason people seem to equate high frequency words with the need to learn by sight.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 12-Dec-15 20:12:27

There's a lot of confusion over the terms 'tricky words', 'sight words' and 'high frequency words'. Whoever wrote letters and sounds really ought to have included a short guide to the differences in the terms given that the teachers that were using it were unlikely to know much if anything about phonics.

Zipitydooda Sat 12-Dec-15 20:25:50

Thanks for the tips and opinions. I think I'll buy the songbirds books.

When my eldest learnt to read, phonics was not a 'thing'. The books used keywords but started with 1 or 2 words to a page and they were things like 'mum' 'dad' 'and'.

This book is not like that. We 'read' it by looking at the pictures to tell the story and he read 'in' and the page numbers. It was a very repetitive book so he could guess the words after the first page but he wasn't reading them.

NB My second eldest proved to be severely dyslexic and his reception year was a nightmare in which he developed anxiety, excema and refused to enter school so I'm a bit anxious about the whole learning to read process; it brings back all the memories.

mrz Sat 12-Dec-15 20:37:55

Letters and Sounds does include a glossary and also notes of guidance for practitioners and teachers which clearly explains that high frequency words shouldn't be treated as unique entities but approached from what is already known

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 12-Dec-15 22:00:15

I'm not sure it was clear enough given how many times I've seen the idea that 'tricky words are words that can't be sounded out and need to be learnt by sight' bandied about. Possibly I'm looking at it with the benefit of hindsight though.

Having said that I don't know how many teachers have actually read the notes and guidance. I suspect it isn't many.

I think it's understandable that you would feel anxious OP, but if he's blending already, then he's doing well.

MrsKCastle Sat 12-Dec-15 22:16:39

'if he's blending already, then he's doing well'.

Really? Aren't most reception children blending CVC words by now, a term in? The use of 'already' surprises me as the expectations by the end of reception are so high.

Not that I'm suggesting the OP's son isn't doing 'well', but the lack of appropriate books is a concern IMO. It means the school are not fully committed to phonics.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 12-Dec-15 22:57:35

Yes, most will be, only a handful won't and most, if not all, of those will have got there by the end of the year. But it's still doing well to be blending in the first term particularly in the OP's situation because the fact he has the basic skills to build on suggest that there isn't any significant underlying issue.

And he's managed it in spite of the school's lack of commitment to phonics.

fredfredgeorgejnrsnr Sat 12-Dec-15 23:18:47

We got invited into DD's reception class to watch a basic lesson with words, almost all were blending simple words at least, got no impression that DD at 4.5 is doing anything unusual by reading more complicated things, her "red" books that she's sent home often has have sounds she hasn't met yet in class, but still.

Does it matter if the books aren't "appropriate" ? DD gets to choose the book from a selection, so they're stage appropriate, but it's still something she's interested in and we get to read them together. I don't think it matters much if she can actually read much or we have to talk about it at this point.

maizieD Sat 12-Dec-15 23:29:12

Does it matter if the books aren't "appropriate" ?

It all depends on what the purpose of the books is.

If they are for the child to practise their newly learned skills on then of course it matters that the books contain words the child cannot possibly read independently. Nothing like introducing some instant demoralisation and the chance to develop some bad guessing habits right from the start shock

If they are books to share (i.e parent to read with the child) then it probably doesn't matter. But they won't do anything for the child's reading skills.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 12-Dec-15 23:46:40

Depends on the child. Some children are lucky enough to get away with it (At least on the surface, there have been one or two threads from parents of 6/7 year old children with issues I would put money on having been a caused by inappropriate reading books in the early stages.)

For others, it can cause big issues from the start.

Imagine the boost the OP's DS might have got if he'd been able to read the whole book himself.

Zipitydooda Sun 13-Dec-15 00:58:20

It seems quite pointless making a deal about how phonics is so great and really teaches the children to read and spell well, meetings for parents about how they use phonics to teach reading ...... And then send home books which are reading books from a reading scheme but don't fit with anything we've been told about how they teach reading.

I think using phonics to teach is great; my eldest took to reading with no effort at all and reads at a very high level for his age but when he reaches unfamiliar words, he usually guesses what they say and is often wrong. His spelling is quite good but not great when spelling rare words as he doesn't have the phonic knowledge to utilise.

Whether being able to blend sounds at this stage in Reception is usual or not for other people's children I really don't care (not in a mean way, just not wanting to compare). It was a huge delight and relief to me when DS started doing it after having 3 weeks of phonics sessions. My elder DC just had no concept of letters relating to sounds relating to words, didn't 'get' rhyme, couldn't name colours or read numbers and yet is a very bright boy ...... It caused him (and the whole family) such pain and he's still well behind in these areas, though making progress. I could tell from age 2 that my youngest didn't have the same issues but it's nice to have it confirmed by him having a concept of what reading is and I know he'll have no trouble building on this. He's very keen to practice so having books he can attempt on his own would be good!

mrz Sun 13-Dec-15 05:57:26

You're right Rafa many haven't bothered to read the guidance (or are aware that it exists) and cling to the idea that HFW can't be sounded out (and repeat this to parents).
I've been told to read L&S by a number of teachers justifying why they teach words as wholes and they are shocked when directed to the guidance. Unfortunately it doesn't always. change their minds /methods (especially recently trained teachers for some reason)

christinarossetti Sun 13-Dec-15 09:17:01

You're right, Zip, about how utterly unhelpful it is to teach children certain sounds, then send books home with words containing sounds that they haven't been taught.

As well as buying the Songbird books, have a look in your local library for series like Traditional Tales' and other decodeable books.

Also, the Oxford Owl website.

lostInTheWash Sun 13-Dec-15 13:43:41 if the local libraries aren't any good for decodable books.

Did mixture of that and books from thebookpeople.

Had this at my DC last school - seriously confused youngest who was doing quiet well with phonics. Went hand in hand with encouraging guessing in eldest DC.

Also sign despite what they were saying phonics wasn't being taught properly but mixed methods - it's has had implications for their spelling as well.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 13-Dec-15 16:17:35

I think reading chest are good in the later stages, especially for children who just need lots more practice.

The problem in the earlier stages is they book band their decodeables rather than organise them by phonic knowledge or following the schemes as they are written. So you might get books that are well above what the child knows one week and well below the next.

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