Phonics and Spelling Books

Phonics Books and Programs

Phonics Pathways by Dolores Hiskes
A good book for new reading students. It can also be used for remedial students. Website: Dorbooks

Rx for Reading: Teach them Phonics by Dr. Ernest Christman
A great book for remedial students. It was developed by a father whose son had been taught to read with whole word methods.

We All Can Read by James Williams
Another good book for remedial students. It uses nonsense words. Website: We All Can Read

The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding
This book uses spelling to teach reading. It is a good book to use for both remedial and new students; however, it is very difficult to understand. You will have to study the book for several hours to be able to use this method. Also, you need to be careful not to start too young or overuse the words--since the method relies on the most frequent words, overuse can lead to guessing problems.

Phonics Steps to Reading Success by Pat Doran
This is a good method for remedial students.

Letter Sounds Save Their Soul by Vanessa Peters
Books 4 and 5 are good resources for remedial students; the large font and tracking exercises make it a good resource for anyone with an underlying vision problem. Website: Sweet Sounds of Reading

Right Track to Reading by Miscese Gagen
Great for both remedial and beginning students. The remedial text has well designed spelling lessons at the end of the phonics lessons. Website: Right Track Reading

Blend Phonics by Hazel Loring.
An easy to use method that can be used for whole class instruction or one-on-one. Plus, it's free online from Don Potter!

The American Spelling Book by Noah Webster
Continue the tradition used succesfully by American children over the ages. As a bonus, it teaches spelling and reading at the same time, so there is no need for a separate spelling curriculum. Plus, it's free online from Don Potter!

Read, Write, and Type and Wordy Querty (computer programs)
These are a bit expensive, but you can download a demo for free to see if you think it will be worth spending the money. The benefit of these programs is that a student can work through them on their own without help.

Synthetic Series of spelling and reading by Rebecca S. Pollard. Free online from Google Books. It makes use of lovely songs and pictures. It takes a while to get used to the format. Pollard in her Synthetic Speller states, "Observe this order of presenting the work

1st. Blackboard drill.
2d. Marking and pronouncing from Speller.
3d. Marking and reading from Primer or 1st Reader"

Or, you can start with her First Book for Little Folks. "By combining in one book all of the work for the first year, it is believed that the author's plan of instruction is made more apparent to the teacher, and that the work is put in more convenient form for the pupil.” The First Book for Little Folks includes references to page numbers in Pollard's Manual for each lesson.

Pollard’s Complete Manual: Synthetic Method of Reading and Spelling by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Speller by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Advanced Speller by Rebecca S. Pollard
First Book for Little Folks by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Primer by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic First Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Second Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Third Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Advanced Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard

Spelling Books

Spelling Made Simple by Stephen V. Ross
This book organizes like words together and also includes useful spelling rules.

How to Teach Any Child to Spell by Gayle Graham
Explains how to categorize words by phonetic patterns and teach a student to spell using their own misspelled words. Website: Common Sense Press Spelling

Tricks of the Trade by Gayle Graham
The companion Spelling Notebook for Graham's book above, for students to write and categorize words they misspell in nicely set up categories. Website: Common Sense Press Spelling

Spelling Plus by Susan Anthony
This book is rule based and very efficient because it focuses on 1000 words that are most important to learn to spell, the most commonly used words and the most frequently misspelled words. For those that need to use a word in a sentence, not just work on lists of words and rules, the author has a companion book, Spelling Dictation.

The American Spelling Book by Noah Webster
Continue the tradition used succesfully by American Children over the ages. As a bonus, it teaches spelling and reading at the same time. Plus, it's free online from Don Potter!

Easy Steps in Spelling by M.W. Hazen
A good spelling book for beginners that organizes like words together. Plus, it's free online from Google Books!

Reference Books

The ABC's and All Their Tricks by Margaret Bishop
A great reference book for phonics and spelling. Worth owning if you're serious about teaching phonics and spelling. This book shows the primary sound of each letter and letter combination along with some common exceptions. It also shows how often each sound is used based on a word count of the most common 17,000 words. For example, ie as long e: it lists some common words with ie as long ie, then states that "71 words have ie in a stressed syllable, where the long e sound is clear. 6 words have ie within a root in an unstressed syllable, where the vowel sound is often muffled." Then, it lists exceptions: friend (short e) and sieve (short i).

The Reading Teacher's Book of Lists by Edward Fry, Jacqueline Kress, and Dona Fountoukidis
While they do include some whole language ideas, this is still an excellent reference book overall with a good phonics section.

Dyslexia Resources

Students with dyslexia may need an Orton-Gillingham (OG) based method. Most OG programs cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Here are some inexpensive resources that 40L volunteers have found helpful for students diagnosed with dyslexia.

Phonics Concentration Game.

Webster's Speller.

Recipe for Reading by Traub and Bloom
This inexpensive manual contains everything you need to make your own OG program. You just need a whiteboard and a marker to write out the words from their word lists. If you want, you can order their workbooks to save time, but they are not necessary.

Toe-by-Toe by Keda Cowling and Harry Cowling


Why Johnny Can't Read and What You Can Do About It by Rudolf Flesch
Rudolf Flesch first wrote Why Johnny Can't Read in 1955. This book criticized whole word methods and advocated a return to phonics. In 1985, he updated the book with the original info plus a section of phonics lessons. This is his updated book. If you want to know a little more about how we got into the reading difficulties we're currently in, this is the book to read.

One warning about Flesch's book: it is quite negative and sarcastic. While this is understandable due to his 30+ years of trying to get phonics into schools with only limited success, William Wilberforce showed that it is possible to persevere in a positive manner. Wilberforce fought against slavery for 18 years in Parliament. We at 40L believe that we should be, like Wilberforce, positive voices for truth.

The web has an amazing amount of phonics information, here are a few that we have found most useful:

The National Right to Read Foundation
This site is especially helpful. They have an online reading grade level test and tons of other useful phonics info. The NRRF also has a list of good books and videos you can use to learn phonics.

Free online animated phonics lessons with sound. Very fun for children.

Don Potter's Education Page
A wealth of information about phonics and spelling. Also includes several free phonics lessons in written and audio format. Too many great, free phonics resources to list!