Give the Gift of Reading
Help your child with reading from an early age with Usborne Very First Reading. The advice below, combined with our Very First Reading series, will help give your child a great start.
From Book 7 - Stop that cow!
The books in the Very First Reading series were designed to be read in order, and support the first two years of learning to read at school. Even if you think your child is too advanced for the first few books, it can be very helpful to read them for practice and to build confidence.
“I particularly like the fact that they are so easy to follow, and therefore easy for parents.”
Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg, Llantrisant
You can find more detail about the structure of the series below, but broadly speaking:
It is helpful if your child is familiar with the new letters or letter-combinations in each book before they start reading (find these on page 30 of the book). See Learning letters for some suggestions.
From Book 5 - Grizzly bear rock
From Book 9 - Run, rabbit, run!
The puzzles after each story are intended to do several things: test comprehension, give further reading practice and be fun for your child to do. Generally, the first puzzle checks whether your child has understood the story, for example by asking them to retell it or match speech bubbles or captions to pictures. The second and third puzzles tend to be more word-based. You will need to read the instructions to your child, and then discuss or check the answers.
excellent idea to read the story several times; your child will gain in
fluency and confidence each time. You can also find more puzzles and
practice activities for each book in the Resources area. Then, when you feel your child is ready, you can go on to the next book in the series. Don’t rush, though – remember that the fifteen books in the series cover a great deal of material, and practice and confidence are essential at each step. Above all,
motivation is vital to successful reading – do what you can to make sure reading is fun, and something your child is really keen to do for themselves.
For more information, see the Help your child with reading section below.
From Book 4 - Dog diary
Usborne Very First Reading is underpinned by a solid structural framework, ensuring that children develop their reading vocabulary and stamina at a steady, manageable pace.
Each of the first seven books introduces a small group of phonemes (the sounds made by letters, or combinations of letters). Where there are alternative titles, (e.g. Book 1: Pirate Pat or Book 1: Double trouble), both books cover exactly the same group of phonemes, so either book can be used to introduce those phonemes or for further practice. Later books introduce new spelling and pronunciation patterns to help children build up a secure and rational understanding of written English.
From Book 3 - A bus for Miss Moss
“Excellent for home reading especially for parents to support early reading. Clear links with phonics programme.”
Woodlea Primary School, Caterham
Very First Reading has been developed to follow the teaching sequence in Letters and Sounds, the UK Government-developed synthetic phonics programme used in thousands of primary schools (find out more about synthetic phonics). (Letters and Sounds is not used in Scotland, but many compatible programmes are.) Many other synthetic phonics programmes used in schools have been developed or redeveloped to support Letters and Sounds.
Letters and Sounds consists of six phases and is designed to be used through Reception and Key Stage One (Y1/Y2). The equivalent stage in Scotland would be P1-P3.
Letters and Sounds is a highly organised teaching sequence and programme of practice activities; however, it does not in itself provide the opportunity to read real books. Very First Reading offers exciting, engaging stories, carefully tied in to key stages of Letters and Sounds, offering the real reading experience at accessible levels and with the close support of an adult.
Download the full structure of Very First Reading (PDF) for details of the material covered in each story and how the books tie in with Letters and Sounds.
From Book 2 - The dressing-up box
Here are meanings of some other technical terms in the structure table that you may not know.
From Book 14 - Knight fight
Synthetic phonics has been very much in the news over the past few years. Most schools now use some phonics teaching in the early stages of reading.
Synthetic phonics involves learning to recognize the distinct sounds, or phonemes, that go together to make up words. There are 44 phonemes in the English language. Some phonemes correspond to a single letter, like the c-a-t sounds (“cuh-ah-tuh”) in the word “cat”, and others to combinations of letters, such as the sh-ar sounds in the word “shark”.
From Book 1 - Pirate Pat
Children start by learning just a few phonemes, then learn to combine these in order to read whole words (“synthesizing” the phonemes, or running them together, hence “synthetic phonics”). This gives them the confidence to tackle new and unfamiliar words, an important step towards independent reading. They are soon introduced to more phonemes, then learn different ways of spelling the phonemes they know. Usborne Very First Reading introduces all the phonemes in a tried and tested order of progression, from simple letter-sounds to complex and variable spelling and pronunciation.
Unfortunately not. Words in English can be divided into two basic groups: regular phonic words, such as “cat”, and words which are wholly or partly irregular.
Around 85% of English words are regular, but some very common words, such as “I” and “the”, are irregular. These are sometimes called “sight words” or “tricky words”, and make up many of the 100 “high frequency words” that children have to learn in their first year at school. Each book in Very First Reading introduces one or two of these “tricky words”, along with other, phonically regular, high frequency words, at the stage where children can most easily decode them.
From Book 15 - Mr. Mystery
Not necessarily. Many schools still use the look and say or whole word method, where children are encouraged to learn to recognise whole words, and use “cues” or clues from the picture or context if they can’t guess the word. For some children, this method is fine, especially if they have the encouragement of enthusiastic parents or teachers. For others, especially children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, the whole word method is laborious and deeply confusing.
Synthetic phonics has long had its supporters amongst teachers specialising in special educational needs, but there is increasing evidence that it works well in the mainstream. A famous seven-year study in Clackmannanshire in Scotland found that children who learned to read using synthetic phonics were two to three years ahead of their peers in word reading, and eighteen months ahead in spelling. This was true for children across different social backgrounds and, very unusually, boys tended to outperform girls. The Clackmannanshire study had a considerable influence on the Government-commissioned report in 2006 by Sir Jim Rose on the teaching of reading, which strongly recommended that children be taught “first and fast” using synthetic phonics. The Rose report in turn led to Letters and Sounds, the synthetic phonics programme used in thousands of primary schools (find out more about Letters and Sounds in The Structure of the series section).
Very First Reading has been developed specifically to support Letters and Sounds, but it will also provide valuable support and practice for whole word teaching.
From Book 4 - Dog diary
Reading is a vital skill – it’s not just something your child learns at school, it underpins everything they do at school. Anything you can do to help children feel positive and confident about reading will stand them in good stead throughout their time at school and well on into their adult lives.
“One of the best features of the series is the shared reading concept.”
Hollytree pre-school, North Baddesley
From Book 11 - Wild school
You can find lots more invaluable advice and ideas, suitable for children from birth to 11 years, in the Usborne Parents' Guide Help your child to read and write.
Teach Your Monster to Read is a free game to help children learn letters and sounds. Find out more.
Children who are familiar with the letters of the alphabet have a great advantage when they start school. Learning letters can be fun, and will give your child a lot of satisfaction. Don't try too much at once: learning one new letter a day will help your child to get them firmly established. Here are some ideas for ways for children to practise their new-found skills.
Every child is different, and you should take your cue from your own child.
Usborne Very First Reading closely supports the synthetic phonics methods used by many schools, and provides valuable reading practice even if your child is using a different method.
Many children find reading difficult in the early stages, for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with intelligence or specific difficulties such as dyslexia. Bright children can often seem to ‘plateau’ once they have mastered the basics. Very First Reading provides a structured and methodical approach which teaches or reinforces basic phonic knowledge, enabling children to decode even unfamiliar words highly effectively.
You may find that it’s reassuring to start at a level or two below your child’s ability and progress quickly, and children will enjoy all the stories even if they find the text easy. If your child is familiar with all the letters of the alphabet, you could start with Book Four, and if he knows all the phonemes, try Book Seven.
If you suspect your child has dyslexia, talk to her teacher or your doctor, who may suggest eyesight or hearing tests as a first step. In fact, many children with dyslexia find synthetic phonics methods particularly helpful, so the Very First Reading approach may well be what works best for her.
This is where the Very First Reading structure is very important. For children with dyslexia in particular, but also for children with other SEN, the traditional “look and say” methods of learning to read could be chaotic and overwhelming. With Very First Reading, new reading patterns are introduced in a very controlled and logical order, gradually building understanding of how the written language works. The shared reading principle is also particularly supportive and flexible, allowing children to go at their own pace.
Very First Reading gives your child a sound basis to start reading more widely – still with your support in the early stages, but with an increasing degree of independence and choice. There is a huge range of titles for developing readers in the seven-level Usborne Reading Programme - fairy tales and folk tales, original fiction and non-fiction, children’s classics and history, biography and literary classics for older readers, with the same principles of engaging writing, world class illustration and high quality production.
Find out more about the Usborne Reading Programme.
© Copyright 2013 Usborne Publishing. Web design & Development by Semantic