I remember the first time I introduced my students to a story from Stories for Young Readers, Book 1. It was a private class of 6 fourth graders that I had been teaching once a week for about three years. I had followed the Phonics & Spelling series from ABC & Phonics, Book 1, and they were now starting Phonics & Spelling, Book 4. I decided to introduce the story, Valentine, from Stories for Young Readers, to see how they would respond.
I handed out the first page, which includes a picture of Valentine and her sister, and the passage about them. Before I said anything, I just let the students look at the page. For a few moments they talked amongst themselves about the picture, smiling and wondering what it was all about. And then naturally, knowing that the words above would tell them about the image below, they moved to the passage and started reading!
It was slow for them, yes, but they were doing it, saying with confidence the words they knew (which were most of them), and working out those that were new. I simply walked around helping as necessary.
I asked for volunteers and six hands shot into the air!
After they had worked on the passage for a while, I told them to follow the words on the page as I read it. I read it twice, the second time a little faster than the first. I then asked for volunteers to read, and six hands shot into the air! They all took turns reading the passage, and I could see that they were all so proud of themselves!
I then handed out the second page, with the questions and puzzle. Each student got a chance to read one of the questions, and everyone would work out the answer together, and then write it on the line provided. Once this was finished the students dived into the puzzle, racing to see who could finish it first, and yet helping each other as they went.
From that introduction I knew I had the perfect supportive material for what the students were learning in the Phonics & Spelling series. Every story sparked interest, and engaged the students with exercises that were useful and fun!