Why are Phonic Books dyslexia-friendly?

Why are Phonic Books dyslexia-friendly?

The founders of Phonic Books are dyslexia trained reading specialists who taught in a dyslexia centre in London. When they began to publish decodable books, they wanted to include features that would help their students learn to read. They found that there was a lack of engaging and structured reading materials to consolidate the phonics teaching that took place in the lesson. Many of their students suffered low self-esteem as they had experienced reading failure. They were acutely aware that they were behind their peers and were reluctant to engage. This obstacle was present across the age groups, but especially with the older, struggling readers. Phonic Books wanted to combine structured phonics progression that would ensure the application of explicit and systematic reading instruction and accessible, engaging books that their students would want to read. They knew that their students first needed to engage in learning to read to experience reading success. Once the children experienced success, they were motivated to embark on the journey to literacy. 

Highly structured, cumulative progression 

Today we know that all children benefit from a reading instruction approach that is structured and systematic, starting with simple learning and progressing to more complex skills. However, dyslexic learners benefit even more so from this approach because they don’t always make the connections between letters and words in the same way as other children. Teaching following a highly structured, cumulative scope and sequence ensures the progression does not leave gaps in letter/sound knowledge or decoding skills. Phonic Books series are designed to introduce only a few sounds at a time ensuring that learning is incremental with sufficient practice along the way. The cumulative progression provides a review of previous learning and ensures there is no learning loss along the way.

Practice, practice, practice

To acquire a level of proficiency of any skill we need to practise, especially if the activity is challenging. Many dyslexic students find learning to read very difficult and need repeated practice at each stage. From the beginning, Phonic Books offer students multiple opportunities to read different books which cover the same phonics progression. Repeated reading of a text, or of similarly levelled texts, helps students to develop reading fluency. For this reason, across the range of all our books from young beginners to older, striving students, we have published multiple series with the same scope and sequence that provide this essential practice.

Help students to catch-up

Many dyslexic students struggle in class for some time before they receive the support they need, meaning they can quickly fall behind their peers. A quick assessment can help to determine the starting point of the reader. The teacher can then match the reading and skills level of the reader to an appropriate series. Our range of books allow the teacher to identify the level of reading of the student and waste no time working from that point. 

Struggling readers need evidence of success

Many dyslexic students find the journey of learning to read laborious and dispiriting. To keep motivated they need evidence of success, they need to believe that this uphill struggle is paying off.  For this to happen they need to be prepared for reading the text with explicit teaching and sufficient practice at the word level. The Phonic Books activity books provide the opportunity to build on all the necessary skills. The reading series are truly decodable, so once the students begin to apply their phonics knowledge and skills, they can see their independent success, and this becomes a great motivator to continue learning to read.

Making reading an easier experience for students

  • A font that helps to distinguish between similar letter shapes

Dyslexia is understood as a phonological-based learning difference. Even so, there are some visual aspects that can help all readers, especially dyslexic learners. Many beginner readers confuse similar looking letters and go through a phase of reading and writing letters in reverse. A typical difficulty is confusing and reversing the letters b, d, p, and q. Phonic Books has chosen a font that makes it more difficult to confuse these letters. The ‘d’ has a ‘flick’ so is distinct from the ‘b’ and the ‘q’ has a flick that is distinct from the ‘p’.

  • Spacing between the lines

Many students lose their place when the print is cramped on the page, and some readers will jump from one line to another. Phonic Books made sure there is sufficient space between the lines so that students can track the text with their finger. 

  • Cream colour for background text

Often dyslexic students notice a glare when reading black print on a white background. Phonic Books has a cream-coloured background to make the text easier on the eyes. 

  • Ratio of text to illustration

Students who struggle with reading may find too much text on a page daunting. This is because reading can be laborious and very tiring. The illustrations on the page provide information, engagement, and reward the reader. There is a balance that needs to be struck between the effort a struggling reader invests in decoding and the rewards they reap. Phonic Books has made a point of gradually increasing the ratio of text to illustration so that students are not daunted by the text and are happy to read at every level.

  • Short reading experiences

A typical lesson for a struggling reader will include explicit instruction and the application of this instruction in reading a text. Short books that can be read in one sitting are helpful because the reader has the satisfaction of having read the whole book. This contributes to a sense of achievement that will build motivation and confidence. “I can do this!”

  • Chapter books for older readers

Older readers love to read chapter books because their peers are reading chapter books. Phonic Books includes chapters in the catch-up series even where there is little text. This is a great boost for older struggling readers.

  • Keeping engagement

Many of our catch-up series begin a quest or adventure in book one that runs throughout the series. Only in the last book does the reader uncover the end of the quest or resolution of the story. This engages older readers and keeps them on track and willing to ‘stick with the programme’. As each book in the series introduces new learning material, when the students complete a series, they have also developed their Alphabetic Code knowledge and their decoding skills.

  • Age-appropriate stories and illustrations

Older students are sensitive to the learning materials they are offered. If the learning materials look very young, this will add to the sense of failure and disaffection. Phonic Books have developed a range of catch-up reading series in an exciting array of genres with a special appeal to older learners. From fantasy, adventure, real life stories, and environmentally themed series, students can select a genre and series that appeals to them, thus creating a commitment and ‘buy in’ to the process of learning to read. Phonic Books is very committed to this principle so all the series in our catch-up range are age-appropriate, even the books for absolute beginners learning the sounds of the alphabet!

  • Games are a great way to practise phonics

Students are often reluctant to repeat the same activity even if they have not yet mastered it.  Phonics games are a great way to engage struggling readers while ensuring that they practise specific phonics skills. This is particularly important for dyslexic learners who may take a little more time to master a skill. Phonic Books have included games in some of their reading series and in all their activity books. These provide the teacher with ready-made activities that focus on a specific phonics skill. Games can be used to consolidate the phonics lesson and prepare the student for a successful reading experience of the series.

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