Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mother Talk Review: BOB Books

When I started researching homeschooling a few years ago, I heard great things about BOB books. I admit, though, that when I first looked at them I was completely unimpressed.

The books had no color, were extremely short, and there were only a few words on each page.

Even though I wasn't impressed, it seemed that everyone else thought they were wonderful, so I bought the first set last summer for my oldest. I quickly found out why everyone thought they were wonderful -- quite simply, they ARE wonderful. The lack of color, few pages and few words are exactly what an early reader needs to focus on the words and build confidence in reading. I had been used to the elaborate picture books of the first 5 years of his life, without really thinking about whether they were good for children learning to read.

When my oldest sat on the couch and I handed him the first book, he quickly devoured it and wanted more. He had to call his dad, his aunt and his grandma that night to tell them he could READ! He devoured the first boxed set in the first week and we eagerly went to the store to buy the next set. Once he mastered these books, they sat on our shelves. They are not exciting, or even interesting, so they are not books to read over & over again. But, they did help him sound out words, learn some sight words, and most importantly -- build his confidence. That early, simple practice helped him progress to reading just about anything.

I have another son learning to read this year, so I was excited at the chance to review the revision recently published. Even though my oldest is reading chapter books these days, he wasn't sure about lending his brother the books he first read.

I noticed some differences in the new set right away. There's a bit more color in these books -- but still not much. The books are better labeled on the front, which is nice for me when trying to keep them in order. And, I think the box is sturdier than the one we had last year -- unfortunately that box is long gone so I can't do a side-by-side comparison.

The real wonder of these books, though, is the effect on children. My 2 sons have VERY different learning styles and I was envisioning more struggle this year. In the weeks leading up to sharing these books with him, we worked on recognizing lower case letters and increased practicing the sounds letters make. I honestly wasn't sure he would be ready by the time the books arrived, but thought I could easily share C's success last year in this review.

When the set was delivered, I showed it to N and said "Hey! Your own set of BOB books arrived today!" His eyes lit up and he replied "I'm going to READ today!" We sat on the couch and I handed him the first book. We went over the beginning sounds in the front of the book and he was off! Before I knew it, he had sounded out each word of the book and read it from front to back. The next thing to do was call his dad; and then he needed to play pirates.

I was shocked, I admit. I didn't expect him to catch on so quickly, and I was once again amazed at the simplicity of these books. It was the perfect amount of learning for my very wiggly and easily distracted little boy. The next day, he pulled out the 2nd book and sat down with his dad to sound out the words and read it through. And, again on the 3rd day. On the 4th day we reviewed the first 3 books and he did great. We continue to work on a book every other day or so and I know they will help him build his reading skills.

He is very proud of himself, and looks forward to the day he'll read chapter books on his own. He knows that his brother started out with BOB books and is confident that they'll help him learn as well. I am glad that I didn't let my initial impression keep me from bringing these books into our home!

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