February 5th 2013 by Alison David
This week, two of my childhood friends came back to our bookshops for the first time in over 20 years – Ant and Bee.
I’ll be honest; I had a lump in my throat because the Ant in a bowler hat and the umbrella-toting Bee taught me how to read and they were the very first books I chose for myself in my local library. I remember that really clearly.
Their return has got me thinking: what if I hadn’t had a local library? What if it had been phonics instead of learning to read by recognising the big red three letter words? What if we’d had a computer and iPad? Would I have loved reading and stories as much as I do? Would I have had the time to read?
I’m being simplistic of course. If it wasn’t for technology you wouldn’t be reading this now and phonics work well for many children but even so, it’s got me wondering.
You can tell I’m a big fan of Ant and Bee, but clearly I’m a child of the seventies. We wanted to know if they’d still resonate with young readers today so we asked a teacher to show them to her class. Here’s what she said and I couldn’t be happier:
“I personally think the books are a great way to remind us that there are many ways in which children learn to read, not purely through phonic strategies. Sight recognition and pictorial cues are crucial in the early stages of children’s reading and any book that promotes shared reading between parent and child is a good idea.
Also I love the characters!“ – Teacher, Wendell Park School, London
And this is what one of the children said… which made me happier still:
“I like the books because the books make you learn the words and that makes you feel better
and that makes your head full of fantastic words and full of questions
and that makes you learn everything!” – Key Stage 1 pupil
We’re sure they’ll prompt more discussion in the phonics vs word recognition debate, but in the meantime…
I remember Ant and Bee… do you?
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