Recently, my friend C. suggested looking into the Hooked on Phonics books, as colorful, more interesting alternatives to the Bob Books. C suggested buying them on ebay, or else buying then one by one on the Hooked On Phonics website. I can see how this would be a good way to go, because the complete kits are quite expensive.
I had never looked at Hooked on Phonics before, but I respect C’s opinion so I decided to look at the website. I do remember hearing that Hooked on Phonics got its big break during the Whole Language movement in the 1990s, when parents across the country were frustrated with reading instruction in their children’s schools and decided to take matters into their own hands. For more on the Whole Language controversy, please see my post at:
Mainly out of my own curiosity as an educator, I decided to purchase the Pre K kit for Jenna. The kit says it is for 3-4 year olds, and Jenna is only 19 months, but it covers content we have already been working on; phonemic awareness, letter identification, and letter sounds. The total price was about $45 and included two workbooks, two sheets of stickers, two packs of flashcards, six books, and two dvds. It arrived in the mail yesterday.
The official instructions say to have your child alternate between pages in the workbook, flash card games, read aloud books, and corresponding segments of the dvd. It really does spoon-feed parents how to teach… a three year old. But obviously I wouldn’t have my toddler sit down and do a workbook page every day. I’m not even sure if she is right or left handed! We will however, look at a few workbook pages together, read the books, and play some of the flash card games. I’ll follow Jenna’s lead in these pursuits, and let her interest guide our instruction.
What I’m really excited about however, are the movies. They are fun, engaging, and appropriately paced for young children. And let me tell you, I am so sick of watching “Rusty and Rosy’s Letter Sound Songs”! These Hooked on Phonics movies are going to be a nice change. I’m still a believer in “Rusty and Rosy”, but I’m going to alternate days with the Hooked on Phonics videos.
All of these materials are still new to me, so I’m not sure if I would recommend them or not. At first glance, I think they are overpriced but useful. I think C’s idea of buying the K, 1st and 2nd grade reading books piecemeal off of Ebay is a very good idea. If they are anything like the Pre K books, they are probably a lot more engaging than Bob Books. I’m still a big fan of Bob Books though, and they are a lot cheaper and easier to acquire.