Bruce Murray, College of Education The Reading Genie


Synopsis: Making Sight Words


Making Sight Words focuses on the key task for beginners: learning to read words. Most texts on teaching children to read lean heavily on philosophical speculation rather than on reading research, and they recycle failed practices from the past along with many empty fads of contemporary practice.

This book tells the exciting story emerging from reading research of how beginners can learn to read words effortlessly and automatically, not by memorization, but by understanding their alphabetic mappings. Teachers learn to guide beginners in their journey from phoneme awareness to accurate, reliable decoding, and from there to the effortless word recognition of fluent reading, which supports reading comprehension. Making Sight Words translates research into practical strategies to help children recognize new words thoroughly, efficiently, and permanently.

Making Sight Words features an unusual organization into expository chapters and practical chapters. The twelve expository chapters deal with broad questions about what to teach and why. The book introduces the unique discovery, promise, and problems of alphabetic writing and explains a powerful theory for understanding how children develop the ability to read words. After describing the expertise of adult readers, it follows the course of reading development to develop familiarity with the milestones of phoneme awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension strategies.

The nine practical chapters show students how to carry out the work of effective reading teachers. They show how to motivate reading and support word learning as children read aloud. Readers learn to teach phonics through an engaging, hands-on technique developed at Auburn, the letterbox lesson. They learn how to guide the development of reading fluency and how to teach spelling as wordmapping, another homegrown Auburn technique. In addition, these chapters include simple assessments to monitor children’s progress in learning to read.

Murray, B. A. (2020). Making Sight Words: Teaching Word Recognition from Phoneme Awareness to Fluency (2nd edition). Ronkonkoma NYY: Linus.

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Last modified: January 8, 2020