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Instil a love of reading with real phonics stories

10 February 2022

Instil a love of reading with real phonics stories

Kasia Reay, author of the Reception Phonics Readers for My Letters and Sounds, explains why choosing books that feel like real stories can be the key to unlocking a true passion for reading.

Teaching young children to read is a subtle and finely balanced blend of science and art. It's the science of teaching children to decode the symbols on a page, combined with the art of bringing a book to life through a shared experience of it - the story, the pictures and a child's personal responses to both. It's this blend - the best of both worlds if you like - that I wanted to bring to the My Letters and Sounds Readers.

In the years before training as a class teacher, I spent hundreds of hours reading one-to-one with children in Reception and Year 1. As an EAL specialist, I knew how important it was to talk with the child about what they were reading, check their comprehension and elicit personal responses to their reading. However, conversations often ran dry, not because the children didn't like talking (they often loved it!) but because the books didn't inspire them to talk. When I compared the reading books the children spent time with at school and the wonderful picture books on offer in any bookshop, the contrast was often stark; the reading books felt like a different breed altogether - not so much books as 'educational materials'. 

I was convinced that this didn't have to be the case and that with some creativity, engaging and varied illustrations and a big dose of childlike humour, books could be created that would follow a phonics progression whilst also enabling the development of comprehension skills and instilling a love of reading.

Much writing followed, the result of which became the first 65 Readers for My Letters and Sounds. Aligned to the popular Letters and Sounds, these Readers form part of a wider offering of 110 decodable books that sit within Schofield and Sims’ new phonics (SSP) programme.

Systematic synthetic phonics provides a strong framework for a young child to cling to as they make their first, tentative steps into reading. In my view, it's a truly egalitarian approach. Children with EAL or SEN, or children who had never seen a book until they got to school, may need to cling on tighter initially, but the beauty of this approach is that it provides a clear pathway to becoming a reader. We do, however, need children to read because they want to, not just because they have to, and this is where the quality of the books we place in their hands is so crucial. 

To this end, we set ourselves ambitious targets for the My Letters and Sounds Readers. We were methodical in making sure they dovetailed fully with the SSP programme, whilst insisting on natural language, proper storylines, child-friendly contexts and outstanding illustrations. It's my belief that we've met those high expectations and I hope that you, and the children with whom you read, will agree.


Find out more

My Letters and Sounds is a brand new systematic synthetic phonics programme built around 110 stunning, finely graded decodable Readers. Written by a team of expert authors and phonics specialists, it provides everything you need to teach phonics effectively, including a vast range of photocopiable, digital and audio resources and ongoing assessment.

Request your FREE My Letters and Sounds sample by registering an interest today and read more about the programme in this blog post.


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