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Reading Without Nonsense 4th Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807746868
ISBN-10: 080774686X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Frank Smith has been a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. A number of his books and professional articles have become classics among educators.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press; 4th edition (December 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080774686X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807746868
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book debunks any number of assumptions about reading. The chapter on phonics is a must read for anyone who belives that 'sound it out' makes sense. He looses a star for not citing his sources, which would be helpful. The lack of notations takes some of the authority out of his otherwise passionate defense of sensible reading instruction.
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A revolutionary work!

Smith, using the most astoundingly clear language you will see a excruciatingly long time, lays a overwhelming case for a predominately whole-language approach for literacy instruction.

Every single one of these thirteen chapters equals every one of the others. I cannot pick out a superlative section; all sparkle and educate.

I think I have read the "dismantling & rebuilding" of phonics chapter (#4) the most because he amazes me with his ability to analytical render phonics a mess that needs fixing and re-focusing.

I put this book in my essentials library. Please read it. If nothing else, he will give you much food for thought before creating your emergent literacy lessons in your early childhood classroom.
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Format: Paperback
The blatant misinformation this author promotes concerning dyslexia is harmful to students, parents, and teachers that buy into his "Nonsense". If your child has dyslexia, run as far and as fast as you can from this book and read Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. Quite frankly, this book is a prime example of what is wrong with our education system.

Look up Decoding Dyslexia for your state on Facebook to join with other parents in the fight for change from these archaic publications.
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I read Smith's book as part of research on the reading wars, the history of education, and for an essay about Rudolph Flesch. This book--written to promote whole word and to discredit Flesch--convinced me, once again, that Flesch was right.

Smith is famous for asserting, in this book, "Readers do not need the alphabet." I keep wondering how they would use a dictionary.

Smith wants you to ignore the phonetic clues within each word. He wants you to look only at the shapes of words. English thereby becomes a vast chaos of nearly one million logos.

Smith writes what I take to be a brilliant kind of sophistry. Everything seems so clear, so sincere. You have to read a paragraph several times to realize that the meaning is slipping away. In an odd way, I would recommend this book for people who want their minds stretched.

Finally, you have to wait for those flat assertions that you can compare to a reality you know. Smith states that children can acquire vocabularies of 50,000 sight words! I had read years before that only the smartest Chinese can master even 20,000 of their ideograms. (Note that these ideograms come in only one form--no upper case, lower case, script, etc.)

Smith claims that learning new sight words is easy--as when you see new cars or meet new people. Sounds good until you try to imagine somebody memorizing 10,000 cars or faces. Perhaps people with photographic memories could manage it. But not the average kid in school. And 10,000 words is just the threshold of literacy.

People not in education should know that twenty years ago, whole word was king, and Smith was an ed god. But now even California has figured out that reading without phonics is nonsense indeed.
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By A Customer on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book really helped me to understand more about teaching reading and about the theories behind teaching reading. i would recommend it ot everyone.
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Format: Paperback
Love Frank Smith.
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Format: Paperback
Frank Smith's book is an important book. His arguments "against" phonics are very persuasive, especially the point that phonics only works once you already recognize the words (so what the point of phonics?) Who can enunciate 20 -or 10 of the many phonics rules? Probably not many people. And we expect a 5 year old to know the rules?! How often do you (or I) mispronounce a word we have have never heard before? It happens to me regularly. And as much as we want, we can't overlook names, right Sean -or it it Shawn?

Smith does repeat himself, but to me that is fine as it re-enforces the points. We so often hear about phonics, a little extra on the opposing camp is necessary to balance things out.

It was my re-reading of the book that really sealed it for me. The first read, in places it seemed so radical I rejected it. "How can he say that about phonics? Phonics seems so natural to me. There is so much published on the importance of phonics". Don't take my word for it about Smith's assertions. Read the book and experiment with random words yourself.

Finally his point about Chinese writing is well taken and that English has many similarities to it. I've studied Chinese characters and see that they are often logical and built up of small pieces that relate to each other. The point here is even if English could be re-written to be phonetic only, it would lose so many clues as to the meaning of a word, it probably would have as many negatives as positives.
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