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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Learn to Read from Sounds is an introduction to phonics for educators and parents, written by Florence Barnes. What is phonics, and why isn’t it currently being used in teaching reading? The author gives readers a sound grounding in what phonics actually is: ‘the representation of the sounds of spoken language by the letters of the alphabet,' and she argues that the current system called ‘whole language,’ which is 'a child-centered, experience-based, holistic learning,' fails to help those children who find reading a task. Barnes describes the changes in pedagogy that developed from the early emphasis on phonics, through the 'sight word' memorization method, to the current whole language program. While acknowledging the rationale that led educators to seek other methods, Barnes believes that phonics deserves a place at the table especially considering the number of kids who are having trouble reading.
Anyone who’s suffered through the early Dick and Jane and Spot books of the fifties and sixties will understand why educators were looking for better ways to get kids reading, Florence Barnes’ educational text, Learn to Read from Sounds, presents persuasive evidence that phonics be utilized as part of an educator’s arsenal for teaching reading. She shows how, even if a child doesn’t necessarily know the meaning of a word, the ability to pronounce it and read it aloud is an invaluable skill. The second half of her book gives educators and parents a full introduction to phonics so they can pass on the skills and exercises to the children in their care. As Barnes illustrates, there are sounds to be learned and mastered. After that, a child’s ability to progress using phonics can be unlimited. Learn to Read from Sounds is highly recommended.