I am not normally a fan of book burnings but this day I was busy burning old reading books in the incinerator when a child asked me if he could have one of the books destined for the fire!
This child was repeating Grade One in my class without a great deal of success! I tried to persuade him to take a more suitable (modern) book than the Beacon series, Kitty And Rover one he selected. But no! He wanted that one.
He looked at the first page- it said Kitty.
“What does this say,” he asked. I told him and then he saw it repeated again. Then Kitty was repeated on the next page, and he said (a little excitedly!) “Look Mrs. Carlton- it says the same thing.”
“Yes,” I replied thinking how boring it was!
Then he got to Rover. “What does this say?” I told him and he noticed it was repeated again and said the word.
I started to get interested. This kid hated reading and could hardly read a word. He continued reading and asking me and repeating all the way through dear old Kitty and Rover and guess what? By the time he had finished he knew what reading was and his literacy journey had begun.
All my strategies, wheedling, begging, soaking him in phonics, narratives, restructuring text and language experience had not done the trick. I was a so called literacy specialist but could not achieve the basic thing this book could do. I was humbled and saved the rest of the Beacon series from the bin!
A few years later I had a similar child- no success at all! I decided to try the strategy but with a twist. I used the child’s own language and got them to tell me about something they were really interested in. e.g. a sport, animal etc.
They dictated and I scribed or typed and repeated each sentence. The children then read every sentence (twice because I had doubled it!)
Then I started to use dotted script and they traced the words. Some children copied the words underneath and illustrated their books!
DOUBLES BOOKS were born!
• Ask the child about their interests and help them to choose a topic.
• Get them to tell you- sentence by sentence.
• You type and then copy each sentence again.
• If appropriate they can trace the words, copy and illustrate.
They LOVE these books and after 8-10 books they are off and running!
If not- guess I could try TRIPLES BOOKS!
I will soon publish a few of these simple books about common topics that fascinate young readers but I still favour the approach where students dictate their own text, a teacher scribes and children read/trace and copy.
Try it- IT WORKS!