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Interview with the Author

Richer Resources: There has been at various times discussion over of Phonics as a teaching method and Whole Language teaching techniques. What is your experience with each of these?

Patty Crowe: The Whole Language technique focuses on teaching the student to read entire words, by memorization, really, and word recognition. Phonics teaches a student to read by learning the sound each letter makes and sounding out the word. With practice, the student becomes quite skilled in this and learns to read rapidly and fluidly. My complaint with the whole language method of teaching reading is that it is difficult for some students to memorize hundreds and even thousands of words by sight. Additionally, what will happen to that student when he or she encountered a new word which has not been taught in this way. On occasion, students taught in this manner will, over time, sort of figure out the sound each letter makes on their own and so be able to read previously unencountered words. But why not just teach them the sounds of the letters in the first place? Then the student can read any word, any time, on their own, by sounding it out.

Richer Resources:  What got you started writing these phonics readers?

Patty Crowe: I home-schooled all of my children except my youngest one and taught them all to read using Phonics. They are all avid readers now and there is almost no greater gift I could have given them. Home-schooling my youngest son, however, was not possible for several reasons and so we enrolled him in a Montessori program. He did very well in that program and I highly recommend it, but one of his friends who lived across the street from us, a little Hispanic girl, was really struggling with learning to read. I went into the classroom and looked at the phonics readers they had and was disappointed with what I saw. Straight off the bat, the children were being asked to read books with a multitude of new sounds in them, never giving the child an opportunity to learn one well before going onto another. It was no wonder this little girl thought she couldn't read and would be never be able to.  Too much was being thrown at her at once. So, I started writing these little readers for her, being sure to use only one new vowel sound in any  book, as vowels are really the challenge in learning to read. The consonants pretty well sound like their own name and so are easy for the merging reader to learn. It is the vowel sounds where new readers trip up and getting these well learned is really the make-break of learning how to read. So I wrote these little readers for her and one of my sons illustrated them and before long, she had learned to read! We then piloted them in the whole Montessori class and the results were really spectacular. The kids loved the illustrations as well and so the whole project really took off from there.

Richer Resources:  What results have you seen with these readers?

Patty Crowe: After seeing success with my son's little friend, we arranged for a pilot to be run in some of the  Montessori classes. The results were quite positive. Not only did the students love the stories and the illustrations, but the teachers found that the students remained engaged and even contributed their own thoughts and ideas to the stories. This is all part of connecting with books and the entire reading process. The teacher was most impressed with their great accessibility to the second language learners,  but all of the students who used the books both loved them and easily learned to read using them.

Richer Resources: I see there are two sets of readers out now -are there plans for more books?

Patty Crowe:  Absolutely. We have a set of 50 titles outlined. They will cover all of the vowel sounds and the main rules of phonics. That will be 5 sets total.  It may sound like a lot of books but when you consider that after reading them, the student will then be able to read just about anything for the remainder of their life, well, it's not so many after all.

Richer Resources: Patty, thank you for taking the time for this interview.

Patty Crowe: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Patty Crowe can be reached by writing to her in care of Richer Resources Publications or by emailing our editorial department. We will forward to her any letters or emails received.





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