Primary reading, as is true of all reading, is for the purpose
of promoting thought, and right reading habits are laid
by first developing an interest in and love for
reading. Reading is not, primary, word study or word
recognition. Even the simplest kind of reading means
getting thought and feeling from written or printed
characters. Oral reading is a still more complex
process, involving, not only getting ideas, but all
that goes to make oral expression of the thought and
feeling. Children are led by desire and interest to
get the thought, and the interest is sustained through
their love for stories. The most important factor in
teaching a child reading is to develop and foster his
desire to read. The only means of ensuring these
conditions is to provide reading matter that all
The process herein suggested consists in the following
distinct steps: The telling of the story so that each
child has the thread of interest; the reproduction of
the story by the pupils dramatizing it, or one or more
telling it. The presentation of the sentence, as it
appears in the Primer story; teaching the individual
words of these sentences, from the sentence, as sight
words; a phonic drill to be given daily after the
reading of the first Primer story. The first work on
phonics will consist in the drills on consonant values
in words known to the child. Later, these consonant
elements will be used in blending with phonograms to
form words. Ultimately, the drill will be in the
phonic analysis of the new words as they appear.
 Every teacher knows that once the child has made a
beginning, he will recognize many words at sight, from
the context. But, relying upon sight-word drill alone
has never resulted in independence in the recognition
of new words. Therefore, after the first few lessons
in the Primer, the drill in phonics should begin and
should receive constant, systematic, daily attention
until the children are able to sound out most new words
It is not the purpose here to set forth a "scientific
system" of phonics. It is not believed desirable that
children in these early grades have even a "complete
system" of phonics. It is the aim to give, in this
manual, only such work as experience has shown
necessary to train children into independent power over
words in their reading vocabulary.
There have been complete and scientific systems used
for drill in the past. There are such systems yet in
use in some sections of the country. But these systems
have proved generally unsatisfactory. Their failure
may be very clearly traced to the fact that they are
too complex and elaborate.
While it is true that the child needs to know the vowel
values only as he may find them in combinations, he
must know all of the consonant values. These
should be taught from words which the child knows at
sight. True, some of the consonants have more than one
value but if those which occur most frequently in his
reading are first taught, he will get the others in
much the same way that he gains a knowledge of the
vowel values—from letter combinations and from
Most of the consonants have only a single value. These
 are b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, qu, r, t, w, y.
Wh as in wheat, cr as in cry, sk as
in sky, gr as in ground, c (hard),
g Christian (hard) and s (sharp) are other values
that the child will need for drill in the use of the
Diacritical marks are used, in the main, to show vowel
values. If the varying sounds of the vowels are to be
taught, in the abstract, these marks or some similar
aid will be necessary. But it is not necessary that
the vowel values should be so taught. Indeed, it is
not even desirable. It is much better to teach these
values in combination with final consonants and in
phonograms. In most cases, the consonant or the
combination of letters immediately following the vowel
will control the value of that vowel. It is better to
ignore the use of these marks until about the fourth
grade, when the dictionary is brought into use. Then
pupils may gain a working knowledge of them in a very
It may be suggested that these drills will not give
power over non-phonic words; but if the child receives
regular and thorough training in the essentials of
phonics, he can easily be led to use his knowledge,
with increasing power, in mastering all new words.
However, there is no good reason why such words as will
not readily answer to his knowledge of phonics may not
be taught as sight words.
A good way to learn to recognize new non-phonic words
is to cover or omit the new word, reading the rest of
the sentence, then judge what word will fit the
context. This plan is strongly recommended because it
trains in reading ideas.
In teaching words at sight, the teacher will devise
 ways of securing repetition. The aim is to get
interesting presentations. One good way is to write
the word several times in easy sentences, or alone,
with colored crayons, etc. Of course, this is drill,
and drill may become a mechanical grind. But drill is
necessary, and the teacher must exercise her ingenuity
to secure variety, so that the work is done in a snappy
way. With an indolent and inefficient teacher, any
kind of drill is likely to become monotonous.
Teach new words by relating the work to new steps in
Words that have little individual meaning—as
conjunctions, some adjectives, prepositions, etc.,
should be dropped into the thought by making use of
There can be no reading without the right sort of
expression. Children, before entering school, have
learned to express themselves in words almost entirely
by imitating those with whom they have been most
closely associated. They are likely to imitate even
the tone and inflection of those for whom they have the
greatest affection. This leads, many times, to faulty
use of words, wrong pronunciation and peculiar
expression, all of which the teacher must gradually and
Reading is getting and expressing thought and feeling.
The effort of the teacher, therefore, must be to lead
the child to get thought and feeling, and then good
expression will usually come naturally.
The following principles are essential in the teaching
of Primary reading, and the Primary teacher should
study what here follows until she knows the ideas as
well as she knows the multiplication table.
1. The child should learn to read as naturally as he
 learns to talk and for exactly the same reason—a
desire to find out something, or a desire to tell
Poor expression is the result of imperfect
comprehension of the thought. There must be
preparation on the thought before trying to read. The
children must be aught to look ahead and catch the
thought of the whole combination of words. Until this
is possible, the exercise is only one in
word-calling—not reading. If the child is free,
unrestrained, he can express his ideas and feeling as
well as anyone.
2. Assigning to different children parts of stories,
dialogues, or poems in an aid in securing right
expression. Occasionally the teacher may read one part
of a story or dialogue while children take the other
3. Children may be allowed, or asked, to read to the
entire school. The reader stands before the school,
while all give attention. He must read with expression
in order that he may be understood, because the other
children have no books open before them. At first,
only the best readers should be allowed to read to the
school, but the privilege should gradually be extended
to every member of the school.
4. If any child expresses the notion that the reading
may be improved, in whole or in part, allow him
to read the story or that part of it in question.
5. Dramatization is one of the best means for securing
the right expression, even in middle grades. The
stories of the "Free and Treadwell Readers" are
especially suitable for dramatization by the children
themselves. Different pupils may be required to take
different parts in playing these stories and these
plays, at different times, should include all of the
members of the class, the slowest as well as the
6. Do not tolerate an unnatural tone of an affected
 manner. Insist on the childrenís "telling" their
stories, not to the blackboard, nor to the books, but
to the teacher, to some particular pupil, or to the
7. It is a mistake to keep a class too long on one
lesson. It is better to go back to it after a time
than to read that in which the pupil has lost interest.
8. Do not permit sing-song reading, drawling,
shouting, or mumbling. Tone down high pitched,
shrill voices to a natural tone.
9. The voice should receive attention from the first
and all proper effort should be made to help the child
to control and improve it for expressing thought in his
own or the authorís words. Drills for enunciation and
articulation will be needed in every grade.
10. The teacher may read to the school. Sometimes,
the story period is fixed immediately to follow the
opening of the school sessions and, because of the
childrenís interest, it becomes a strong, wholesome
incentive to punctuality.
Certain materials for the use of the teacher and the
pupils will be found very helpful when properly used.
The publishers of the "Reading-Literature Readers"
furnish these helps at a nominal price; but the
teacher, if she will, can make for herself all of these
and others that her experience will suggest. A
description of these devices follows:
Perception Cards. This set consists of one
hundred sixty cards, each card containing one of the
words taught in the primer. The cards may e used in
teaching the new words of a story, in word drills and
in testing quick recognition of words already taught.
In using the cards for quick recognition, the teacher
will stand before the class with the cards in her
hands. These she will
dis-  play, one at a time, for quick recognition. At first,
this work should be done somewhat slowly, so that all
children may have a part in the word recognition, but
later, the drill should be rapid. In the beginning,
but two or three of the cards will be used, but others
will be added to the pack as the vocabulary increases.
These cards are 4 by 6 inches in size and they may be
made by any teacher. This diagram shows the plan.
Pupilís Word Cards These consist of a set of
thirteen cards, each containing seventy words. These
are the words of the primer and every word is repeated
several times. The words are printed between lines so
that they may be cut out along the lines, in uniform
size. Thus every child may have all of the words of
the primer repeated several times. They may be kept in
envelopes or in small boxes, and are to be used by
pupils in their seats in sentence building.
In the beginning, this sentence building will consist
simply of following or copying sentences with the
Primer open before the pupil. Later, sentences may be
built from dictation.
Any teacher who has access to a typewriter can make
Phonic Cards These are a set of 21 cards, 4x6
inches in size, for the use of the teacher in drilling
on the consonant elements. They are printed on both
 one side is the words containing the consonant,
slightly separated from the phonogram. Just below is
the consonant alone. On the reverse side of the card,
the consonant is printed in both capital and lower case
forms. The appearances of one of these cards is here
The child knows the word "red" at sight. The teacher
may first write or print the word on the blackboard,
with the consonant slightly separated from the rest of
the word. If the child does not, at first, readily
recognize the word, a line may be made to connect its
parts. When it is recognized, the line should be
removed an the children led to say the parts of the
word as they appear upon the blackboard. After a few
such drills from the blackboard, with the first few
words, the cards alone will suffice. The subsequent
drill from the cards will be on the consonants alone,
as they appear on the reverse side. In this drill, if
the child does not readily recognize the consonant, the
teacher may turn the card over and require him to work
out the consonant from the word, as in the beginning.
Drill on consonant elements should be daily and
continuous until children are thoroughly familiar with
The stories used in these readers are worth lingering
over and rereading, and the pupils should not be
hurried through the books. The repetition, if at all
lively and wide awake on the part of the teacher, is
attractive to the child.
 The stories are suitable as a real basis for many kinds
of lessons, and this manual directs attention to the
1. Hearing and telling the stories.
2. Playing or dramatizing the situations when possible.
3. Memorizing stories and poems wholly or in part.
1. Blackboard sentences based on the stories.
2. Blackboard sentences based on dramatization.
3. The use of the book itself.
4. The use of mimeographed or printed words and
sentences chosen from the vocabulary in the book.
5. The use of phonics all the time.
1. Illustrative—original drawings representing
2. Formal—tracing pictures, coloring outlines
prepared by the teacher.
Clay and Sand Work
1. Modeling simple figures mentioned in the stories.
2. Staging the actors on the sand-table.
About animals and plants mentioned.
Use of pictures and cuttings relating to the
The varied lessons to which this manual directs
attention have a twofold purpose:
First, to add to the childís general culture.
Second, to enrich the process of learning to read.
Since reading involves more that is new and difficult
to a child than anything else in the first year of
school, most of this part of the manual is devoted to