Reading Lessons Quotes

Selected Quotes from Charlotte Mason on Reading Lessons.
Annotations in [  ] by Real Living Life.

Read the complete chapters where Charlotte describes reading lessons in Volume 1 page 199-222.

“Learning to read is hard work for most children, but it must be done, and we as parents should try to make the lessons as easy and pleasant as possible” – Home Education Volume 1 p.214

“If words were always made on a given pattern in English, if the same letter always
represented the same sounds, learning to read would be an easy matter; for the child
would soon acquire the few elements of which all words would, in that case, be
composed. But many of our English words are, each, a law unto itself: there is nothing
for it, but the child must learn to know them at sight…This process should go on side by
side with the other the learning of the powers of the letters; for the more variety you can throw into his reading lessons, the more will the child enjoy them. Lessons in word making help him to take intelligent interest in words; but his progress in the art of reading depends chiefly on the ‘reading at sight’ lessons.” – Volume 1 p.203-204

“Definitely, what is it we propose in teaching a child to read?
(a) that he shall know at sight, say, some thousand words;
(b) That he shall be able to build up new words with the elements of these.” – Volume 1 p.215 

It is time we faced the fact that the letters which compose an English word are full of
philological [pertaining to the study of literature, fe-la-le-jee] interest, and that their study will be valuable part of education by and by; but meantime, sound and letter sign are so loosely wedded in English, that to base the teaching of reading on the sounds of the letters only, is to lay up for the child much analytic labour, much mental confusion, due to the irregularities of the language… – Volume 1 p.215
[Charlotte is not saying here that we should not learn the sounds of letters- she is speaking of phonics rules, letter combos, phonogram system as she states below.]

“No meaningless combinations of letters, no cla, cle, cli, clo, clu, no ath, eth, ith, oth, uth, should be presented to him. The child should be taught from the first to regard the printed word as he already regards the spoken word, as the symbol of fact or idea full of interest.” -Volume 1 p.216

“Mrs Wesley’s Plan.—“None of them was taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years in learning than any of the rest had been in months. The way of teaching was this: the day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, every one’s work appointed them, and a charge given that no one should come into the room from nine to twelve, or from two to five, which were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly, for which I thought them then very dull; but the reason why I thought them so was because the rest learned them so readily; and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old the tenth of February; the next day he began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over until he could read it off-hand without hesitation; so on, to the second verse, etc., till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year, and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually, and had such a prodigious memory, that I cannot remember to have told him the same word twice. What was yet stranger, any word he had learnt in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book, by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.” – Volume 1 p.200

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