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A primary difference between good and poor readers is the ability to use letter-sound correspondence to identify words. (Juel, 1991)

If children have not yet learned letters, it is important to teach them shapes, names and sounds so that they can use letters to acquire phonemic awareness. National Reading Panel, 2000)

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the individual sounds-phonemes-in spoken words…a strong predictor of reading achievement. Shaywitz, 2003)

They need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language – the sounds and the letters that represent them – and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have their writing hands, eyes, ears and voices working together in conscious organization and retention of their learning. (Margaret Byrd Rawson, former President of the Orton Dyslexia Society)

Reading research tells us that students learn best when they can activate their senses of sight, hearing, touch and movement. This multisensory approach is utilized in my book, Can you find the abcs?, as the child:

  1. Matches the clear plastic letter card to the corresponding illustration (in alphabetic sequence), moving it over the illustration until he finds where the letter is hiding.
  2. Traces the textured letter with his finger
  3. Says the name of the letter
  4. Says the name of the picture (that begins with that sound)
  5. Says the sound of the letter
  6. Steps 2-5 are done simultaneously. For example, the child traces the letter c with his finger as he says, “c, cup, /k/”
  7. Mom or dad (older sibling or teacher) reads aloud the rhyming text on each page. Later, the child can “fill in” the rhyming word, then read along, and finally, read all by himself!

Reading this book over and over again will help children make correct associations between letter names, sounds and formations. With focused attention on letter formation, letter reversals are prevented (or corrected.) Because each letter is “hidden” in a picture that begins with that letter’s name, another association is made to strengthen memory. By incorporating lower- case letters instead of upper- case (capital) letters, I believe that children will have an easier time learning to read, since words consist mainly of lower-case letters.

Can you find the abcs? will provide a simple and fun way to help your child (or student) master early reading skills as you play and read together!