Bob Books First by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John Maslen
|Bob Books First by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John Maslen|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: Margaret Young|
|Summary: The absolute best product on the market to teach your child to read at home, or to help a child having difficulty in school. These are books that teach children to read, and teach children to love reading.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 72||Date: May 2006|
|Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks|
|External links: Author's website|
As a home educator, this simple set of books is one of the most essential educational items I own. I've ended up buying 4 sets, as one was given away to a family in desperate straights, one was water damaged, and most recently a few books out of the last set have disappeared. It is the one thing I just can not manage without, so even though I'm sure they'll turn up eventually, I simply can not wait and ordered a fourth set. I have literally invested hundreds of pounds in phonics programmes, and I have some wonderful resources, but as simple as these books are, they are the one set I can not manage without. They break everything down into such simple terms that even the youngest child can easily get a grasp of how to use phonics to decode new words. It is not even necessary for the child to know their alphabet first, although I would recommend waiting until the child not only knows their alphabet, but also can recognise basic shapes and patterns, knows text is read from left to right, and can recognise a couple of words in print, such as their own name. It is possible to teach a very young child, even as young as two or three to read a few of these books, but it really is best to achieve some degree of reading readiness first.
The first book uses only four sounds: m, t, s, and soft a, plus the word on. Each letter is presented next to simple picture showing its sound - such as "m, the word moon and a picture of a moon. Basically it is just Mat sat, Sam sat ..... The first page has only one word Mat. The next pages introduces the reader to the word sat, and the following pages will bring in Sam and on. So in total - the whole book has only 4 words unless you count the four words next to each picture for letter sounds and The end. The second book brings in the sounds c and d, and has a total of six phonetic words, + O.K. Each successive book will add more sounds and more words while repeating words from earlier books. This series will only use soft vowels sounds and three letter words for the entire twelve books. It also uses the numbers 1 -10 in book nine. By the time you get to 12th book, the child will have learned every letter except q and be reading two to 3 very small sentences per page. There is never more than one new word introduced on any one page.
The books themselves are very simple. Booklets is probably a more accurate term. Each book consists of only six pages, or three sheets of paper and a card cover, folded in the middle and held together with staples. The books measure 13.5 x 10.25 centimetres. The drawings are somewhat crude, just quick black and white line drawings, and while I initially thought this was a real failing in this series, I can see that it may serve its purpose. The child's attention is drawn to the text rather than to beautifully coloured illustrations. If you prefer colour though, it easy enough to colour these in, and we use this as reward, once the child has mastered the book, we colour in the pages.
Personally, I find the stories dull, especially the first books which use only a few words and sounds. But it isn't my opinion that counts, it is that of the children. These aren't books that can really double as bedtimes stories. They will not be read for the story alone. But both of my boys have loved these books, if not for the story, then for the pleasure of learning to read. My youngest was nearly in tears when his books went missing. I'm fairly certain they have fallen behind a very heavy piece of furniture - I just can't get them out. While the stories are simple, he is delighted to be able to read them himself, and in fact they only became lost because he had carried them upstairs to read with his brother. He reads the easier books himself and then asks someone to read the more difficult books to him, but even then he is practicing the phonemes and picking out a few words. The fact that a set of books gets carried about everywhere the child goes speaks volumes for their ability to engage young children.
This is not a complete learn to read set. There are a total of ten sets, of which I own nine, and I will certainly buy the tenth when my son is ready for it. These span at least three to four years of reading instruction, but the wonderful thing is you can buy one set at a time as needed. Many children will make the jump into fluent reading before reaching the final set, and if your child is taught in school as well, one or two sets may be more than enough to help them catch up and develop into confident readers. The sets are all very reasonably priced, so even the most financially strapped family could afford this programme. I have used these with a number of children, with great success and really can not recommend them highly enough.
If this book sounds useful we can also recommend:
You can read more book reviews or buy Bob Books First by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John Maslen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Bob Books First by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John Maslen at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.