What Have we Found Out?
The results have been truly surprising. Written English is actually far more predictable than is usually thought. There are a core number of common words and phonic skills that do occur with very high frequency. We now know not only which words occur most frequently in children’s literature, but also the most frequently occurring graphemes and the phonemes that they represent. We have also identified the words that appear less often and are therefore not as useful to beginning readers. So in contrast to the conventional wisdom, the Real Books DataBase has shown that children’s real books actually provide more opportunities for children to practise their phonic and sight word reading skills than reading schemes – and in a more enjoyable way.