Homeschooling Today — May/June 2010
Change Language:
For The Love Of Reading
Marilyn Rockett

Choosing teaching materials is one of the more daunting tasks for homeschoolers. The overwhelming array leaves our heads spinning and sends us on a quest for the “perfect” curriculum. This confusion no longer applies concerning teaching resources for reading.

Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books: Fourth Edition by Mark B. Thogmartin, Ph.D. and Mary Gallagher, M.S. Ed. (New Learning Concepts, Inc., 2009) clears away the clutter of reading “programs” and “curriculums.”

Thogmartin and Gallagher, in an engaging and easy-to-read style, educate a parent with a “comprehensive approach” to produce fluent readers with a lifelong love of reading. Backed by solid research and the coauthors’ extensive education backgrounds and successful personal experiences (even with struggling readers), the book presents the whys and hows of this effective and enjoyable method. It combines, as the Introduction relates, “story reading, writing, and an understanding of how to recognize words and word parts (phonics) to help your child learn how to read and enjoy books, both now and for a lifetime.”

This book and a wide selection of good children’s books are all anyone needs to propel a child into the world of literacy. Chapters 1 through 5 give the whys of this philosophy and chapters 6 through 10 walk you through exactly how to follow this easy, natural method. If your goal is to teach your child to read and ensure he will enjoy reading as a lifelong reader and learner, you will love this commonsense approach that shows how to capitalize on teachable moments and use “intentional” lessons that do not communicate to your child that reading is boring and too much work.

The valuable appendices offer helpful guidelines for choosing books for your child’s developmental level and extensive lists of what the authors call “anchor books”—books that are “among children’s all-time favorites and have stood the test of time.” The authors helpfully point out that “you can determine the approximate levels of the books available to you [from the library and at home] by comparing their distinguishing characteristics to those of the anchor books [listed in the guidelines].” The three-page reference list in the back points parents to interesting and informative materials for further education.

Jim Trelease, popular author of The Read-Aloud Handbook (Sixth Edition; Penguin, 2006), wrote the forward. You can purchase a three-ring binder ($29.95) that allows the addition of notes and resources or a compact coil-bound cover ($32.95) that is easy to carry. Both pass the homeschool mom’s test of lying flat when open on a table or lap. If you Google the title, you will find copies of previous editions, but this reviewer recommends the Fourth Edition, which Thogmartin says is a substantial revision of previous editions. Additionally, previous editions do not have the lay-flat binding. Visit the authors’ website at where you will find additional resources and call 800-925-7853 to purchase the Fourth Edition.

For more insight into the authors’ philosophy and method, see the interview, “The Great Debate: How to Teach a Child to Read,” in this issue.