Reading and the

Learning the alphabet seems to have little to do directly with learning to read. It's helpful for talking about reading, but here are some ideas about its relationship (or lack of relationship) to successful reading:

Angela wrote:

My older daughter loved letters and number from a very young age. By two and a half she knew all the shapes and sounds of the letters and could match up the capital letters to the lower case. She learned to read just before she was five and it seemed like she learned it by osmosis. I was amazed.

Her sister, on the other hand, had no interest in letters and number at all when she was two or three and most of four. (I still knew how incredible smart she was though. -grin-) She asked to learn to read just before she was five so she could read the letters from her pen pals and write back (before that I read them to her and helped her write back by pointing at a letter on a mat she could copy- it was a long process but she loved her pen pals (one was my pre-teen niece and the other was her friend) and it was important to her to write to them. Although the process took a little longer because we had to start with the basic letter sounds, she also basically could read in a couple weeks (maybe second grade level). It was no less amazing.

My whole point to this story is that my second daughter could actually read and she still couldn't recite the alphabet. She was never interested in it.

After that initial help with reading, her reading continued to improve over time without her ever sitting down to read a book or having me show her anything in any way that ever looked schoolish. She did begin using email about a year ago or two ago and she's played lots of board games etc. She just recently began reading books for pleasure and is halfway through King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, and loving it. (She'll be nine next week)

My older dd who seemed to learn to read very well and very quickly by osmosis, still isn't interested in reading fiction. I am not sure if she is still holding the week I made her read to me for 10 minutes a day when she was five years old against me or if she just hasn't found the need yet. But I'll never push her again. She is very sensitive to any pressure and I learned that when she was quite young. She made me the unschooler than I am.


Sesame Street's beautiful
Fairy Alphabet

Hand-animated in 1973 by Holly Zapp (more info)

Jane Clossick posted in 2016, in a discussion of how kids can be helped to learn the alphabet:

Sing it to the tune of Jack and Jill, and it works with 'zed'.

ABCD        (Jack and Jill went)
EFGHIJKL – EM        (up the hill to fetch a pail of water)
NOPQ        (Jack fell down and)
RSTU        (broke his crown and)
VWXY – ZED        (and Jill came tumbling after)

I wrote to Jane on the side to ask whether the tune she intended was the same I know. She sent a recording. It's different, but the same sets of letters would fit to the tune I learned in the U.S. I like this tune:

In a discussion (here) on Radical Unschooling Info, lots of videos and ideas were brought, and a recommendation of an app that's $3.99 for iPhone or iPad in the U.S. called Metamorphabet. Here it is for other platforms (maybe a dollar more):

You can read that discussion without being a member of the group. You might need to click on "see more" or "replies" to get all the details.

Although I started off encouraging families to play with the alphabet until children know it, and I brought several videos, in a slightly-related topic I posted:

It's funny that the alphabet is still so worshipped these days. I was the one saying kids should know it, I know. It helps, but it's not as crucial as it was when the use of phone books and library catalog cards (for looking books up) required the knowledge of alphabetical order.

Memorizing multiplication tables, too—SO useful in the 19th century! ☺

Now, ask your phone. If you can talk to your phone or iPad or computer, you can say "What is 35 times 7?" and the device will speak the answer. For years, for those with keyboards who can type, you could ask google in English (and other languages, I assume) for the answers to division and percentages. You can ask in words for exchange rates and for all kinds of things school once prided itself on making sure children memorized. The capitals of states. Ask google, if it matters (and it VERY rarely ever matters).

Two good Sesame Street songs with words in alphabetical order, both sung by Kermit (Jim Henson). The first one also has Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Excite the
Glade, in my
Heart how
I do
Jump like the
Listen to the
Music so
Nice the
Rests the
Under the
Vine tree at the
Waterside and
X marks the place 'neath the
Yellow moon where the
Zulu chief and I did hide.
Music: Paul Jacobs
Lyrics: Sarah Durkee

Error in the subtitles—D is for "dew" (not "dune")

A is for alligator
B is for bayou
C is for cyprus trees,
D is the dew.
E is for everything like
F, ferns, or
G, grass that's
H, home to you.
I is for insects
J for juniper
K, kelp
L, log
M is the moon.
N is noontime
O is for otter
P for possum, he'll be sleeping soon.
Q is quicksand, that's very tricky.
R, rushes,
S, snakes,
T, tar that gets you sticky.
U is the universe that's
V vast and
W wide, and
X marks the spot where I love to hide.
Y is for the yellow bird that sings so sweet, which brings me back to
Z and now my alphabet's complete, in the swamp.
Joe Raposo, composer

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