I am going to spend today defining three terms that I introduced yesterday since these terms will be used throughout this series on helping your struggling early readers.
1. For our purposes here, “reading fluency” is defined as the ability to pick up and read whatever the child should be reading according to his grade in school, as it relates to word-calling (sounding out/decoding) words.
2. Thus, if the school wants the new second graders in the fall to be able to pick up non-phonetically controlled**/non-vocabulary controlled*** picture books and read them without mis-reading more than a few words, “reading fluency” for that child would be the ability to do that. (To begin using our language arts programs, we recommend that a child have reached “reading fluency” in that he be able to read picture books without help. That is another way of looking at reading fluency.)
**Phonetically-Controlled Picture Books—
1. Phonetically-controlled picture books are those that are filled with a set group of words based on certain phonetic components, such as mostly short a words or only long vowel words—such as the case with many readers (more on readers in the next few days).
2. Phonetically-controlled picture books are excellent first readers since new readers should read from actual books every day.
3. When I describe non-phonetically controlled picture books, I am describing library books or other children’s books whose contents are not dictated by certain phonics sounds. The infamous “Bob Books” are extremely phonetically-controlled; Curious George is not. In the beginning, a child needs “Bob Books” type of books to practice his new sounds.
***Vocabulary-Controlled Picture Books-
1. Vocabulary-controlled picture books are those that are filled with a set group of words only.
2. An example of a vocabulary-controlled picture book is one that has a short list of words that are contained in that book—and that book does not contain other words.
3. Vocabulary-controlled picture books are excellent second readers (after ones that contain only phonetically-controlled words; after a child has a larger reading vocabulary than just short and long vowel one syllable words, for instance) as they help the student branch out in his reading, but still only expect him to be able to read a small number of words.
4. Vocabulary-controlled picture books are those that have a word list on the back—and only contain those twenty words or so.
5. Again, Curious George is generally not vocabulary-controlled; these vocabulary-controlled books are often found in “early readers” sections of library, along with the phonetically-controlled ones.