Running head: A TIMELINE OF READING
A Timeline of Reading Instruction
Grand Canyon University
November 9, 2009
Reading instruction has undergone many changes since the first colonists settled in America. Hornbooks and battledores morphed into primers and basal readers. Religion played an important part throughout the first half of the history of reading instruction in America. Books grew into stories that were enjoyable instead of remedial. The alphabet played a significant role, as did pictures, when teaching reading. The debates of whole language and phonics has spanned the centuries, leaving no distinct decision. The researcher examined the trends from the 1600s to the present and identified the type of reading
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Readers were usually for children who could already read and used the whole-word method with varied levels of difficulty and stories that appealed to children. In the 1800s there also began the debate between phonics and whole-word instruction. Spelling and phonics were taught by dividing words into syllables; conversely, whole-word instruction was taught by reading stories, memorizing words, and associating words with pictures. By the early twentieth century, schools were focusing on reading for enjoyment. The alphabet was not as widely used, and there was more emphasis on phonics as "the approach to learning how to read" (Robinson, 1997, p. 49). The mid 1900s brought on the silent reading trend, a resurrection of the original way reading was taught. As schools embraced silent reading, "there were increasing demands placed on reading for meaning, instead of on oral exercise" (Robinson, 1997, p. 50). Following the resurrection of silent reading, supplemental materials for the teacher were developed, and the teachers now had manuals to correspond with the basal readers. More focus was put on comprehension, and phonics was now used as a supplemental tool. As the years passed, reading series expanded to include stories that were more realistic, with fewer words per page, and more repetition of words. By the 1960s, reading instruction "incorporated all of the reading skills discovered or developed over the years" (Robinson, 1997, p.