Book Review: Reading Remedy, by Marion Blank, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Yvonna Graham, M.Ed.
DR. BLANK IS MY HERO
The Reading Remedy: Six Essential Skills That Will Turn Your Child Into a Reader, by Dr. Marion Blank, published in 2006, should be required for all elementary teachers. Dr. Blank obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the University of Cambridge in England. She spent 40 years studying literacy and how brains learn to read — all kinds of brains. She tried her techniques on real children, dyslexic and not. She developed Reading Kingdom to spread her knowledge to other teachers. (www.ReadingKingdom.com). She distributes her method as Phonics+5. This is all quite impressive, but I am not impressed by the resume, since I’ve read an awful lot of awful “research-based” curriculum by “highly qualified” people. Dr. Blank is one of my heroes simply because her methods work. The key for me, as a dyslexia tutor, is in the +5 part of her work. She recognizes that phonics is great, until you have a student for which it doesn’t work. She advocates using six different approaches, focusing in on the ones that fit each child, so that no one is left out.
READING REMEDY IS READABLE RESEARCH
Dr. Blank’s book, Reading Remedy, is 338 pages of detailed instructions in how to present reading in six separate ways so all children can learn. She points out that some children (dyslexics) can memorize all 600 phonics rules of the English language and still not read fluently. She adds that naming the letters has nothing to do with reading the words. She goes so far as to state on page 88 that being able to sound out words does NOT produce word recognition. Aha! Maybe it’s time to quit torturing children who can’t sound out words easily and move on to the +5 part of the curriculum! Then she ties in writing and spelling with practical, usable methods, highly applicable to the classroom, tutoring, or home school environment.
READING REMEDY WAS A SOURCE BOOK FOR DYSLEXIA TOOL KIT
My book, Dyslexia Tool Kit for Tutors and Parents, owes a great debt to Dr. Blank. I studied her work, used it with students, then took the parts most applicable to dyslexia and simplified them for easy application by parents and tutors. The results have been gratifying! Parents and tutors do teach children to read, EVEN if the children exhibit no phonemic awareness whatsoever.
WHO SHOULD BUY READING REMEDY AND WHO SHOULDN’T
If you want to thoroughly understand how reading is established in the brain, get The Reading Remedy. If you want a detailed reading curriculum that explains the research behind the techniques and takes you step by step through each one, get this book. If you want to read profoundly poignant explanations of reading challenges faced by children with learning differences, get this book! You might also want to take a look at Dyslexia Tool Kit for Tutors and Parents: What to do when phonics isn’t enough which presents wonderful work by Dr. Blank and other researchers as quick easy-to-use techniques for tutor and parents.