________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006


The Reading Edge: Using Phonics Strategically to Teach Reading. 

Kaz Miyata & Cathy Miyata.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2006.
126 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 1-55138-186-9. 

Subject Heading:
Reading-Phonetic method. 

Review by Gina Varty. 

**** /4

The Reading Edge is a real page turner. From the opening "A Message to Our Readers" through to the concluding "Final Thoughts," this book kept me on the 'Reading Edge.' I wanted to keep reading, and I felt as though I was sitting on the edge of my seat. 

     How can a book about using phonics strategically to teach reading be that enthralling? Because it is filled with passion, humour, drama, suspense, innovation, heartfelt stories and so much more. In short, because it is a highly readable book, a book that is all about empowerment and the tremendous power of words. 

     Reading is a crucial life skill, and The Reading Edge offers teachers and home-schoolers the tools, techniques and motivation needed to introduce formal reading instruction that leads to readers quite magically getting hooked on the printed word.    

    The "Reading Edge" offers strategic combinations of word families, onset and rime techniques, rhyming patterns, humour tactics, and creative methodology that are designed to include a range of learning styles....The true magic of these strategies unfolds during small-group instruction.... Only 10- to 15-minute sessions, three or four times a week, are needed for dramatic results....The unique combinations, scaffolding, and strategic sequencing compound to create powerfully effective learning experiences....After a couple of months using these strategies, sometimes in only a few weeks, your non-reading students will be reading. They too will have the Reading Edge (p. 12). 

     Each chapter offers a section on tips for implementation that highlight the ways the individual strategies can work together. 

     Chapter 2 Developing a Sight Vocabulary outlines how to get the reading edge -- the preliminary fundamentals children need to learn to read independently.

    Reading independently being...the student's ability to blend and decode many words within their grade level, the words being presented on a page in sentences with that child understanding what those words mean. There are no pictures provided to encourage guessing at words either (p.14). 

     This chapter provides exercises to review basic phonics and to learn high-frequency words. These include word families and words inside words.  

     Chapter 3 Assessment offers tips that help identify student weaknesses, strengths and gaps in learning. 

     Chapter 4 The Art of Blending techniques for understanding how letters combine to form words, including the use of storytelling, drama, dance, music, and visual art. 

     Chapter 5 Patterned Decoding draws students' attention to the patterns of letters, sounds, and words through mini worksheets, flip books, and challenging activities. 

     Chapter 6  Words in Context introduces Silly Sentences, strategies that will enable a child to confidently tackle sentences and prepare to start reading books. 

     Chapter 7  Extending Patterned Decoding describes how to approach digraphs (2 letters that make a single sound, e.g. th-), consonant blends (e.g. spr-), silent e (e.g. fate) and other combinations.  

     Chapter 8  An Instructional Sequence combines the strategies outlined in each chapter into a sequence of 20 stages separated into two levels. 

     Chapter 9  Getting Home Support suggests ways to use parents and caregivers constructively in their child's reading progress. 

     Each chapter begins with a classroom anecdote and ends with teacher assessment blackline masters.  Photos of students in action are sprinkled throughout the text, as are quotes from cited books, teachers, or the authors themselves. These quotes provide insight into what is being discussed. This impressive book concludes with a resource bank, a listing of common word families, Dolch Sight-Word List, and a detailed bibliography and index. Chapter by chapter skills are sharpened, culminating in mastery and independent, confident readers. Readers with a great edge in life, literacy. That is what happens using this instruction model, a model that comes from the hearts of authors with more that 50 years of experience in education. 

     These passionate authors note that "...there is no greater joy and feeling of success than what comes from empowering a child with the ability to read". (page 6). That is indeed a magic moment. The Reading Edge is filled with magic moments that will touch your heart and kindle your own passion for the reading edge! 

Highly Recommended. 

Gina Varty, a librarian in Edmonton, AB, is currently providing library supply for Edmonton Public Schools. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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