The Reading Bug

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JIMCURRAN

The Reading Bug

Post by JIMCURRAN » Tue Oct 12, 2004 7:10 pm

A teacher friend, whose son is dyslexic, gave me a book to read last week “The Reading Bug”( 2003 ) by best selling Australian children’s Author Paul Jennings. He has written more than one hundred stories , and sales of his books exceed 6.7 million copies. Paul Jennings worked as a special needs teacher, a speech pathologist and a senior education lecturer before turning to full time writing.
“The Reading Bug” is described by one Wendy Cooling, Children’s Book Consultant, as “A must for all parents who’ve ever worried about their children’s reading”
The book is totally Whole Language in praise of guessing, using context, predictable text, reading for meaning and much more.
“ Reading for meaning rather than word-for word accuracy is not my idea. I wish it was. But a number of people including the brilliant linguists Frank Smith and Ken Goodman , developed this notion in the early 1970’s. At the time unfortunately, many teachers including myself made the poor kids stop at every word they didn’t know when they were reading aloud. It took us some time to catch up and realise just how frustrating and counterproductive it was.” ( page 87 ).
Paul Jennings is very convincing and I worry about the damage this type of book will do. Needless to say it is a very easy book to read ,he steers well clear of any type of research while at the same time managing to sound very knowledgeable. Curious or anxious parents reading this book and I fear it could be a best seller will be well convinced.

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Vicki Lynch
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Post by Vicki Lynch » Sat Oct 16, 2004 11:34 am

"Reading for meaning rather than word-for word accuracy is not my idea. I wish it was. But a number of people including the brilliant linguists Frank Smith and Ken Goodman , developed this notion in the early 1970’s. At the time unfortunately, many teachers including myself made the poor kids stop at every word they didn’t know when they were reading aloud. It took us some time to catch up and realise just how frustrating and counterproductive it was"

- It is frustrating and counterproductive! So the 'answers' in this book might well make sense if offered in the manner you describe, Jim. This is how the whole language rather than phonics thing gained popularity - it is still cited to me so often against what I have been doing.

There's a big gap missing, though, isn't there?! It's when the phonics is ineffective that this ploughing painfully through every word occurs and is a miserable procedure. The answer is to make it effective, not try something even worse......

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Post by JAC123 » Sat Oct 16, 2004 12:40 pm

Jim when this book came out, with great fanfare and loaded shelves at a chain bookstore in Oz I wrote to Paul Jennings, or at least the only contact I could find on his website, guess what, no reply.
Mem Fox is another well-known Australian children's writer, lovely story books, but she has also written a similar book to Paul Jennings, readily available at same book chain.
My principal got the Paul Jennngs book, informed parents it was there to be borrowed, but was not similarly interested in Diane McG's book - I wonder why not!!
If I am not mistaken I think Jackie French, another well-known etc etc has just recently had a book of the same ilk published.
If these authors were more informed about how children really learn to read then maybe they would write books that beginner readers could read, but they are code-ignorant. Why should they be any different, but please use your influence very cautiously when it comes to public information about the teaching of reading.

quipg.

Post by quipg. » Sat Oct 16, 2004 6:26 pm

Jac, can you elaborate on your last sentence?

And Paul Jennings, a fabulously surreal and imaginative children's author, actually taught SEN children. The problem is that if phonics is treated in an analytical way, as was probably the case when Jennings was teaching, it could be very, very laborious and it requires a mind-numbing number of rules to be digested.

Also saw a horrible, sneering, ignorant article in the Book People mag. by Michael Rosen last year.I thought about writing to him, as was once involved in a book we published but knew it would be water off a duck's back and that he would not spend even a few minutes considering why so many children are failing.

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Post by JAC123 » Sat Oct 16, 2004 11:21 pm

What I meant in my last sentence is that authors write for a purpose - entertaining or amusing or educating children, earning a crust of course. They do not write books which children can read for themselves as their primary concern.
I am thinking in particular of the beautifully illustrated books with little text which on the surface look as if they are aimed at 4-5 year olds but which the beginner cannot truly read because the words are not yet decodable in terms of what a child that age can be expected to know.
In this sense author's are ignorant/uninformed.
Do you know the 'Maisy' books for instance? These books look like they are for 4-5 year old children to read themselves - large clear font, few words on page, simple sentence structure but in fact have many words too difficult for a child to read independently.
I am not criticising authors for this, they are not teachers of reading, why should they do any different.
But some authors - like Paul Jennings, Mem Fox, Jackie French - use their status as authors to advise about how to teach reading.
Does being a children's author confer expertise in teaching and advising about learning how to read?

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Susan Godsland
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Re: The Reading Bug

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:25 pm

Someone has just pointed me in the direction of an article from the Sydney Morning Herald
Nov. 2003.

It mentions author Paul Jennings and his (then) new book The Reading Bug. Jennings admits that, whilst advocating whole language guessing strategies for everyone else's children, he taught his own daughter to read pre-school using phonics.
Whole language also has influential boosters, including Paul Jennings, a former teacher and bestselling Australian children's author. In his new book, The Reading Bug, he tells parents phonics should be the "last strategy to be employed, not the first".

Instead of sounding out, Jennings writes that children should guess at words they can't read. In one chapter he says the child who reads the sentence, "I use soap to wash my face" as "I use soap to clean my face", is reading better than the child who reads, "I use soap to watch my face."

"It is unpleasant to be corrected," he says, while admitting he taught his daughter to read using phonics. "She started school aged five with a reading age of eight." No such luxury in Walgett, where parents are said to be considering a class action against the Department of Education.
A neglect you wouldn't read about: Something's amiss when kids are leaving school illiterate, writes Miranda Devine.
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/ ... m=storyrhs

JIM CURRAN
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Re: The Reading Bug

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:35 pm

Paul Jennings is part of the "disconnect" as described by Dr.Reid Lyons in his Children of the Code interview.



The Disconnect:

Dr. Reid Lyon: But here’s the disconnect, and this is ironic: we obviously work with a lot of colleges and universities and we’re on campuses doing a lot of studies. One of the things some of our studies do is look at the interactions that occur between moms and dads and kids. When you look at professors working with their kids from birth onward, they’re reading to those kids from day one, typically. They are not only reading, but as they read even at six months of age they’re pointing out the letters and the sounds. They’re getting the kids to see the relationships between letters and sounds and vocabulary and concepts; they’re extending language. They do it on the lap; they do it at bed time; they do it at the dinner table. They have magnetic letters on the refrigerator. What they’re doing is building not only a knowledge of language and print and how all of that goes together, but they’re building brain. We can see kids who don’t have these interactions and they show us brain development substantially different from kids who do have these interactions.

Now what is surprising is that a lot of these folks who interact with their kids in a very good nurturing environment and who do a lot of good systematic teaching from birth to five will then go into their undergraduate and graduate courses and teach their students never to do that. They teach their students never to do it because it’s not developmentally appropriate. That’s the disconnect.

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