The importance of age-appropriate phonic reading material for ‘catch-up’ pupils

When older pupils, who are struggling with literacy, come to the learning centre where I teach, they often have low self-esteem.  Offering them babyish looking books will compound their sense of failure.  If they are given books that young primary school children are reading, what does that say about them?

In the past many publishers have created wonderful reading series for older boys and girls, both fiction and non-fiction.  These have been mainly ‘high/low’ reading books.  The stories and illustrations are age-appropriate but the text is at a low level reading age.  These books were good for children to practice reading fluency.  The problem is that many of these pupils could not access these books because they had gaps in their phonic knowledge and that was preventing them from making significant progress.  High/low books offered the pupil the opportunity to practice what they already knew.  What they did not do was plug the gaps of missing knowledge.

What these pupils need first, is to embark on a systematic phonics programme which includes age-appropriate reading books.  Only then, can they access the high/low reading books to practice and improve their reading fluency.

The Magic Belt Series was created explicitly to fill in the gaps in phonic knowledge and skills.  The reading books combine phonic step-by-step progression and age-appropriate reading material.  By the time the pupil has worked his/her way through the four series (including Totem Series and Talisman 1 and 2) they are ready to read the high/low books to develop fluency.

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