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Comment: UGLY BOOK, Has some wear on edges, May have some higlighting and markings
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The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading Paperback – October 17, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jessie Wise, a former teacher, is a home education consultant, speaker, and writer. She has decades of experience as a classroom teacher, elementary school principal, private tutor, and educational consultant, and is the co-author of the best-selling The Well-Trained Mind and the groundbreaking elementary grammar text First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. She lives in Charles City, Virginia.

Sara Buffington has experience as a teacher and children's book editor. Now a freelance writer, Buffington is the co-author of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and First Language Lessons, Level Three.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Well-Trained Mind Press; Reprint edition (October 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972860312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972860314
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I (homeschooling mom) was very skeptical when I first received the book: No pictures! Then we (my 6-year old twins and I) started. And we loved it! We are half way through the book, and both kids read fluently. In their free time they pick up other books or anything else readable that they can find.

The (231) daily lessons are very well structured, take about 10-15 minutes each, and provide excellent in-text directions for the teacher, so there is no preparation time. And I learned that because there are no pictures, the focus is on decoding the letters and applying the phonics rules without any distraction.

Optional activities/games are fun to choose from. I recommend getting the pre-printed index cards that go along with the lessons and games (directly from Peace Hill Press, about $5.00).

The book ends with "Reading a Really Long and Silly Word": supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Imagine your new reader to read that properly without problems, and YOU helped them to get there.
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I'm using this with my 4-year-old son. Before I started homeschooling him, I had him in a private preschool, where he learned all his short-vowel and consonant sounds, as well as some basic math (beyond simple counting that is). In spite of that, I didn't skip the first two sections that teach short-vowel and consonant sounds, but I did cover two letters a day instead of just one. Otherwise I've followed the program the way it's laid out.

I gave the book 4 stars because it's simple, orderly, and lives up to it's name. However, I have a few issues so far that kept the book from getting 5 stars.

1) The poems in the first two sections. Yes, kids are great at memorizing things, but these are horrible. The very first letter caused problems for my son, who kept trying to say "first vowel" for both lines because the lines were so similar. Patterns are a wonderful way to memorize things, but these patterns weren't consistent. It made me wonder whether Jessie Wise had field-tested these on a variety of children before publishing them. I'm sure some kids will get them, but the combination of boring and inconsistent is a little too much for the short-vowel poem. The consonant poem is better - the pattern is consistent, and it's a little more fun (my son loved saying "/b/,/b/, bat" even though I didn't ask him to learn the poem), but after the short-vowel poem I opted to skip it. In my son's case it wasn't needed.

2) Other reviewers have noted a lack of phonemic awareness training, which I also noted.
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Format: Paperback
After completing 89 lessons in this book, my daughter and I are calling it quits. We've worked on it on and off for over a year (she's 5 now), and for the sake of preserving a love of reading, have decided to shelve it. This book has been helpful in a number of ways; it is great for giving a parent the sense that they can indeed teach their own children, that reading is easy, and laying out a path for doing so. I have found it useful as a reference book, i.e. to show me what to introduce, remind me what the actual "rules" are, and give me direction for our lessons. However, there have been some significant problems.

1) The layout of the pages is daunting for a child. There are lots of words, no pictures, nothing to visually set apart the words that the child reads except that they're a bit larger. It seems overwhelming and very un-child-friendly.

2) The practice stories often make no sense, and fail to capture my daughter's interest at all. An example from today: "The black snake did wish that he had a snack of mice. The snake did scan the grass to prey on mice. The grey mice sat on the rock and ate nuts. The snake came to the rock. Hey! The mice fled. They hid in holes. The snake will have no snack this day." Awkward wording, nothing particularly interesting about that, no pictures. The optional follow-up activity is to illustrate this story and label the items.

3) The practice sentences are way too long, and overwhelm new readers. For example, the child has just been introduced to the "fl" blend (lesson 50), and reads the sentence, "Ducks in flocks flit and flap on the flat pond." This sentence is too long, has onomotopeic words with which they may not be familiar (flit), and makes them use the new rule 4 times!!
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While most people who reviewed this book seem to be full time homeschoolers I am not. My daughters attend public school but when my eldest entered kindergarten I realized the reading instruction was laboriously slow. At the beginning of the school year my daughter was already reading CVC words and beginning phonetic decodable readers fluently. When she had not progressed any by January, I took matters into my own hands. Although I am an educator, I had not taught earlier grades and wanted an easy guide to follow. Jessie Wise's work was a perfect fit. The organization allowed me to begin exactly at her level. While I can understand other reviewers who have critiqued the book's organization and lack of pictures, I found the plain text and absence of pictures helpful for getting my daughter to understand that she does NOT need pictures to comprehend words --- a common fallacy in many a public and private school's instruction. The recommended Modern Curriculum Press phonics readers and magnetic letters helped keep her learning active. As always a continued healthy dose of quality bedtime story reading aloud and the school's heavy emphasis on oral comprehension skills complemented her literacy diet .
As a working mom, I only had time to work with her on weekends, school holidays and only a few evenings after school. By the middle of March, my daughter had moved 4 reading levels. My husband commented, "You are really the one teaching her to read." While I do think of homeschooling at some point, this book allowed me to impact my child's education now while I am working. As a beginning first grader, my daughter is already reading at a late third grade reading level and has moved up a grade for her reading lessons.
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