An innovative new Australian publishing company, The Reading Mountain, is tackling worrying literacy statistics by providing an exciting series of books designed to help children read with confidence and foster a life-long love of reading.
The 2014 NAPLAN data shows that 15.1 per cent of Year 3 students were either at or below the required reading standard. By Year 5 this figure jumps to 18.5 per cent and a staggering 24.5 per cent of Year 9 students are falling below the necessary reading standards.
According to The Reading Mountain founder Susan Spelic, an experienced reading advocate, writer and intervention teacher, “we can help children and their families create a positive difference by providing support and engagement in beautiful, simple, well-designed books.”
“A lack of confidence in reading can permeate a child’s school life, affecting other subjects if they do not have the necessary reading skills,” Ms Spelic explains. “Poor literacy can have devastating consequences on a child’s confidence and self-belief which can lead to a disengagement which can persist into adulthood.”
With over 30 years of experience, Ms Spelic created the series of The Reading Mountain books to fill the void in what is currently available to parents and teachers, giving specialised learning support to new readers.
The books are designed using the five key components of reading; Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension.
“Learning to read using phonics is an evidence-based teaching methodology. English has 26 letters, but 44 sounds, so to teach with a focus on sounds, or phonics, makes sense for most children,” Ms Spelic says.
‘Vowels, for example, can make different sounds, so The Reading Mountain series focuses on the long and short sounds for each vowel, to teach children how words are constructed.’
In an innovative approach, the books in The Reading Mountain series have a number of design features, which all contribute to support a child’s learning;
Highlighted Lettering: Draws attention to the focus for each book, while the child reads, for example long ‘e’ sounds will have ee/ea/ie/ey parts of words highlighted
Systematic Approach: Each story builds on a child’s phonemic awareness or their ability to manipulate or focus on individual sounds
Dyslexia-friendly font: the DyslexieTM font is used throughout all the books in the series
Chapter Books: All children love chapter books as they think they are cool, which helps engagement, but the format also works well for sequencing main ideas and events in the stories.
Exquisite Original Illustrations: Each book has beautiful illustrations to support the story and to build engagement for children and carers.
Graphic Novel Format: the books all make it clear where there is direct speech or phrasing, encouraging children to use expression, character voices and sounds.
Each title has two versions to encourage a ‘Growth Mindset’, the first book contains simple words and phrasing to tell the story, while the ‘Growth’ version builds on a child’s confidence using the same story with richer vocabulary and a more complex sentence structure.
Reading Mountain titles are available as printed books or e-books which can be viewed on electronic devices.
The first five Reading Mountain books; Duck in a Cup, Tim and his Sisters, Clever Meg, The Problem and Anna the Panda can be purchased at The Reading Mountain online bookstore at www.thereadingmountain.org from 18 June 2017. E-books retail at $6.95 with the printed versions retailing at $15.95.