Why Create a DataBase of Children’s Literature?

Having endured years of various reading schemes as our own children went through school, and experienced the tedium of controlled-level texts, we wondered: would it be possible to teach reading through high quality real books? Undoubtedly this would be a more engaging and rewarding starting point for children, teachers and parents. However, the conventional wisdom is that since English is a highly irregular language and that beginning readers need to be taught through books with a limited and controlled vocabulary of phonically regular text.

Optima addressed this dilemma from a novel starting point. Instead of asking how children learn, we asked which skills occur so often in written English that they can most usefully be taught to beginning readers. The aim was to devise a curriculum that teaches the most frequently occurring and useful skills. Equally our research identified many popularly taught skills (phonic and sight word reading) that occur with low frequency in written English and so are of little practical value to the beginning reader.