CONTROVERSIAL HISTORY OF DICK AND JANE
No Fun Reading with Dick and Jane (or Sally and Spot)
Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement. I know many people who are slightly older than me remember them fondly. A few years ago I found three of the newly published Dick and Jane readers like the Dick and Jane Away We Go in the picture in a book sale so I decided to pick them up for a few cents each. This past summer Caroline found them on my bookshelf and asked me to read one to her. So we sat down and I started reading. She gave me the most quizzical look when I started reading the stilted sentences.
The new elementary school principal could hardly believe what he was hearing - an eighth-grade student struggling to read a fourth-grade book! Upon investigation, however, he found that the reader was a typical 14 year-old boy. Except for one thing - he couldn't read. I was that school principal, and I soon discovered that those students were not alone; half the adults in the United States can't read simple instructions like those on a job application or a medicine bottle. Canadians fare only slightly better.
So many phonics-based readers were incredibly boring and my kids do not respond well to boring. Back when I went to elementary school Dick and Jane books were used. I loved those books and read them multiple times for fun. Apparently, they used the look-say method where sight words are emphasized. I tend to approach reading through a mixed approach with phonics being important, but I also introduce my kids to new sounds and words in the context of reading actual books whole language approach. Earlier this school year I was once again stumbling around trying to find reading books that would be a good fit with my daughter when my mom asked me if I wanted some old school books that she had. She had a couple old Dick and Jane readers.