Basal Reading Books: Programs & Activities

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  • 0:01 Learning to Read
  • 1:20 Using Basal Readers
  • 2:09 Advantages of Basal Readers
  • 3:00 Activities for Use…
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Chances are you may have learned to read in no small part due to basal reading techniques, but do you know what they are? In this lesson, we explore basal reading and how to incorporate it into the classroom.

Learning to Read

Teaching students to read is one of the most important academic aspects of the elementary school teacher's job. After all, from reading for knowledge to reading for pleasure, the ability to read is quite important in our society. Needless to say, the science of learning to read has come a long way in the period of written history, especially in the past 60 years. This is largely due to the rise of basal reading programs. Basal reading programs are texts written for the express purpose of teaching someone how to read. They are often heavily illustrated and feature plenty of repetition of keywords.

Now before you get the wrong idea about basal readers, thinking that they may be boring, you may be interested to know that Dr. Seuss wrote many of his works to be easily incorporated into existing basal lists. In fact, his motivation for writing some of his most famous works was to make it easier for young students to master reading. It's not just English in which basal techniques have been applied. In fact, basal techniques are now increasingly commonplace in foreign language instruction. As a result, any teacher worth their salt should be knowledgeable about how basal readers work and how to make the most out of them.

Using Basal Readers

The underlying principle of basal readers is simple - not all words are created equal. Sure, there are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, but we only really use a few of them in a given day. In fact, the vast majority of written English is comprised of only three thousand or so. As a result, the faster we learn those three thousand words, the faster we are able to really start to read.

However, it's not just a matter of memorizing words from a list. Instead, basal readers use repetition to constantly drill the words in question. This means that young readers grow more and more comfortable with each new exposure to the words. As the student progresses throughout the year and throughout the reader, new words are introduced, meaning that the child's active reading vocabulary is constantly growing.

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