O is NOT for “owl”

I almost bought a book called Webster’s First Phonics compiled by Stuart Dent.

At first glance it seemed to offer a beginning word book that acknowledges the special spellings of English, those letter combinations like sh, which represents a sound that has no letter in the alphabet, and igh, which is an alternate spelling for the long i sound.

On my way to the checkout counter, however, I glanced at the end papers on which the letters of the alphabet were displayed with illustrations. Alas, next to the letter O stood the picture of an owl.

While I have bought ABC books with less than perfect letter/picture correspondences, the picture of an owl for O was enough to shatter my faith in a book that is supposed to be teaching a phonics approach to spelling.I did buy two other little books, both of them board books published by DK Publishing, Inc.—my first abc board book and my first word board book.

Books for the home library

my first abc board book also fails the O test, not just by illustrating O with the picture of an owl, but also by putting the picture of an orange on the O page.

Owl begins with the sound /ow/. Orange begins with the sound /or/.

This ABC book also fails my W test, but speakers who pronounce wh the same way they pronounce w won’t be bothered by this. In my speech, I do distinguish between the sounds of /wh/ in wheel and /w/ in wet. The W page has pictures of a wheel, a wheelbarrow and a whistle.

Overall, my first abc board book possesses more qualities than deficiencies. I recommend it highly for the toddler’s home library.

my first word board book, like all the books in the DK line, has beautiful bright photographs against a white background.

The book not only illustrates a vocabulary of more than 200 words, it groups words and objects in such a way as to teach children how to classify: body parts, clothing, furniture, food, and so on.

Finally, when the child has reached the reading stage, the book offers reading practice, as each picture is labeled with the word in easy-to-read lower case type. This is another book for the home library.

Letter/sound review

To review the sounds and symbols of English, click on ALPHABET

As time goes on I’ll add my first abc board book to the list, providing comments on the letter/sound/picture correspondences in it. For example, Q and X always present problems for the makers of ABC books.