When a child is speaking many words and using them as an integral part of his personality, he is ready to read them. In teaching reading to young children, word selection is often the first place where we go wrong. We pull words from thin air and try to put them into the child. Often we make matters worse by putting these strange words into printed context outside the realm of the child's experience and expecting him to read--and he cannot. Children can learn to read any word they speak. One of the greatest hoaxes in all of educational pedagogy is that which says that reading vocabulary must be developed in a predeter¬mined logical sequence. This simply is not the case. Linguists tell us that when a child comes to school he has all the language gear he needs in order to learn reading and all the other skills of lan¬guage. The trouble is that we do not use his gear. We manufacture artificial systems of language development and methods of teaching reading, and we impose them on children. It is almost as though the child has to learn two languages in order to be able to read-one for communication and one to "get through" his reading books.
More study has been done in the area of reading than in any other area of the elementary school curriculum. This is justifiable because reading is an important skill needed for learning. But it is not the most important method of communication. It is important only to the degree that it communicates. Much confusion exists about this research. It is the sec¬ond place where we go wrong. We have built up a vast store¬house of knowledge about reading, but all the needed knowledge is not yet known. And, because there are great gaps in that knowledge, we have turned to the next best source-the opinion of the experts in the reading field. Many experts have advocated their "systems" of teaching reading, basing them on known truths but filling in the gaps with their own ideas. When gaps in knowledge are filled in with opinions, we...
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