IP-11-1994 (January 1994)
Author: Educational Policy Center
How Were You Taught to Read?
If you regularly read articles like this, you are probably a member of one of several generations Americans taught to read by an approach known as the basal reader approach. If you can think back and hear any of your teachers saying, :Take out your readers,” or “Take out your workbooks.” or if you can remember flash cards, taking turns reading a story orally, working on worksheets, or following the adventures of one family, whether they were Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Spot; or Jack, Janet, Penny, Tip, and Mitten, you were undoubtedly taught to read by the basal reader approach. And if you regularly read the daily newspaper, or popular or specialized periodicals, you are a literate citizen who can function effectively in American society. Yet, the basal reader approach, and many approaches contemporaneous with it, have increasingly been under attack by advocates of what has variously been called “The Whole Language Philosophy”, “The Literature-Based Approach”. or “holistic teaching of reading.: Indeed, in many schools teachers who would prefer to use basal readers in teaching beginning or intermediate reading are afraid to publicly say so, for fear that they will be disdained by their colleagues by being labeled as “old-fashioned”, or “out-of-touch”. or by being otherwise regarded as somehow not quite competent in the teaching of reading. This despite the fact that millions of literate Americans learned to read with basal readers.