Time-tested large-print stories
©1999 Ann Turner
The pages above are from the fourth and ninth of the retold tales. These tales are useful for children who need large type (26 point) and plenty of white space between the lines but who also need the kind of interesting, age-neutral stories that are too often found in books with small print and long words. The nine stories are in separate folders (235 pages in all) and range from roughly second-grade to roughly third-grade level. They serve as either supplement or detour for children in grades two through five who have progressed beyond the primer level.

For tutors and home-schooling parents, these books can supplement the books that a child is already reading, giving your pupil a breather from a reading vocabulary that expands too rapidly or print that is too small; or they can make a detour around books that are too hard or too boring to hold a child's attention. Meanwhile they are coordinated with games that systematically build reading vocabulary.

Poor comprehension can result from lack of fluency. Lack of fluency, in turn, can come from reading a book with too many unfamiliar words, from snow-plowing through words that should have been sounded out ahead of time. Since you can prepare all the words before starting each of these stories, your pupil can read it fluently enough to understand it and enjoy it.

Because of the color games, good story-telling words like window and heart and island can be introduced earlier than usual in the learning sequence without violating a pupil's systematic approach to decoding. This way children can use the color games for training wheels, then kick away the wheels by switching the word-cards to the black side. Once they have kicked away the wheels, they are ready to concentrate on the story.

These old stories are interesting and eventful. They have stood the test of time because they hang together and because the events flow out of each other in a way that helps children remember what happened and predict what will happen next.

Some--not all--children do well with phonetic books, but there is a body of basic nonphonetic words that are essential for reading anything beyond the simplest phonetic books. If these nonphonetic words are buried in a rapidly multiplying vocabulary of phonetic words, they don't get the careful treatment they deserve. These tales have a natural story-telling vocabulary that grows gradually enough to allow a child to become fluent with those basic words that form the skeleton of everything we read.

I have found that having a non-look-alike vocabulary that grows gradually and avoiding an overdose of consonant-blend words can foster fluency and the comprehension that comes from fluent reading--provided that the words are carefully prepared ahead of time.

Children who have problems with the visual side of reading, who are confused by small print and tightly packed text, can find that reading isn't so hard after all when their stories are printed in 26 point type, with space between the lines. If they are second graders or older, they need real stories, not babyish, large-print beginner books.

Children who have trouble with visual tracking often do well if you point to the words as they read orally. The pointing keeps their eyes moving smoothly, and the oral reading allows eye, ear, and speech to work simultaneously for mutual feedback.

For fluency with basic vocabulary (ages 6 to 10)
The king was still having

his dinner. When he saw the

river coming at him, he had

to hop out of his chair and

out of the room.

The river still came after

him, so the king had to jump

out the window to get away.
"There is a lake far, far

from here," said the giant. "In

the middle of the lake is an

island. On the island is a church.

Next to the church is a well. In

the well is a duck. In the duck

is an egg. And my heart is safe

inside the egg."
Click here to see the COLOR CODE
Click here to see SPELLING WITH CLUES
Click LESSON PLAN to see how to use the Nine Tales in a program for tutoring an at-risk beginner or second grader.

To prepare the words for these books, go to the Color Code page, which describes the games for learning the non-phonetic and two-syllable words in these books.