What fuels your passion to help children learn to read?
My passion in life is to take as many people with me into heaven as I can. I want heaven to be crowded! It’s going to be the best party in the entire universe and I want everyone to be there, too.
As a children’s author, this means that I look constantly for ways to get kids to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to help children learn to read.
Once they learn to read, they can read the Bible. As they read the Bible, the Holy Spirit can work inside their hearts to convict them of their need for Jesus and bring them to a place where they will trust Jesus for their salvation. After that, their faith can grow stronger as they continue reading God’s Word.
It’s a domino reaction. If I help teach kids to read, it’s the first domino that will tip over and cause a chain of events that eventually equips them to read the Word of God and hopefully choose to know Jesus as their personal Savior.
You have two sons who are now grown. What tips can you share with other parents based on your experience during the formative years when your own children learned to read?
My husband Jeff (an elementary school teacher) and I love to make learning fun. So when our sons were learning to read, one thing we did was to play games! For one type, I drew a blank board game on a piece of paper with spaces to move from beginning to end. (I could photocopy this to use for a variety of different games.) On each different space of the board game, I wrote a different word I wanted my sons to learn to read. Our sons had fun decorating the games and choosing little toys to use as playing pieces.
As we played the game and moved our markers from space to space to space, we read each word together on the spaces. Not only were they motivated to read each word as they moved forward along the board, but each time we played the simple game again, they became more proficient at reading those words.
How did you get the idea to write One Sentence Storybooks?
Years ago I wrote a book that is still in print for teachers and homeschooling families to use with their students, 25 Read and Write Mini-Books That Teach Word Families. It’s a bestseller for Scholastic Teaching Resources and has sold over a quarter million copies to date. This book has 25 reproducible little books that help teach children to learn to read stories that are just one sentence long. I’ve had teachers all over the nation tell me that they have their students use these books along their road to success with reading. I’ve even had older kids tell me that they loved using these books to learn how to read when they were in kindergarten or first grade.
As a Christian, I longed to bring this same successful learning concept and reading strategy into the hands of little ones in a way they could learn to read the Bible. Thus the One Sentence Storybooks was born.
One Sentence Storybooks is a unique set of ten little books that help children learn to read. What’s the secret of their success?
Studies have shown that children learn to read successfully using phonics (learning to sound out new words) and sight words (learning to recognize some words when they see them). In fact, Dr. Seuss based his book Cat in the Hat and his other beginning readers on this learning foundation. In One Sentence Storybooks, the repetitive text uses very simple words children can sound out such as “sad” and “came” and adds in words children can identify by looking at pictures such as “star” and “kings”—all while reading Bible stories! It’s a win-win combination that helps young children build confidence and experience success along their reading journey as well as their journey of faith.