The Delightful Reading Kit can be used to teach beginning reading skills to children from the toddler stage up through early elementary years using Charlotte Mason’s methods. The kit explains where to start depending upon which stage a child is at. For toddlers (and even babies) there is a page with suggestions for introducing letters and their sounds in a playful approach using letter tiles that come in the kit. Six pages outline a plan for teaching children how to build words from the letters using a combination of phonics and sight reading, again using word tiles from the kit. The remainder of the book aside from the appendix offers reading lessons based on four reading selections: the poem “Rain” by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Dogs and the Fox by Aesop, Proverbs 23: 4-5, and “Letter to My Friends” by “a delighted author.” These readings along with “More Sentences You Can Read” are in A Delightful Reader.
The Delightful Reading Kit includes the teachers manual, A Delightful Reader, My Word Book journal, a set of letter and word tiles, a set of small plastic bags for storing word and letter tiles, and a CD-ROM with a word list and printable pages with the word tiles in case you need to remake them.
Many homeschoolers are surprised when they discover that Charlotte Mason’s approach to reading relies heavily on teaching sight words although it does also teach basic phonics. Mason’s rationale is that there are so many exceptions that phonics cannot be consistently applied. In addition, she points out that fluent readers do not continue to sound out words once they recognize them but read “by sight.” She does not rely exclusively on sight reading. She also teaches through “word families.” For example, children learn the word it then learn how to create more words by adding various consonants at the beginning. Children learn long vowel words by a similar process, starting by adding e at the end of the words they have already created and learned with the consonant-vowel-consonant combinations.
For older students, each lesson begins with students learning words that will appear in the readings in an interactive, hands-on fashion using word tiles to learn to recognize words and to construct sentences. Once they’ve mastered the new words, they read the original sentence or sentences from which the words were taken from A Delightful Reader. Then the lesson shifts to word building as students work with “base” phonograms or words to form additional words. Students conclude by creating new sentences from their words they have learned. Either the student or the parent records each new word that has been learned in My Word Book.
Because lesson words are derived from the reading material, the vocabulary is more advanced than we often see in beginning programs. Children learn words such as meager, quay, and squinted. “More Sentences You Can Read” often include unusual words or poetic phrasing such as, “Was it a jet or a drone in the no-fly zone?” and “Have you met many fiends who were not in fetters?” The content is really secular since even the quote from Proverbs relates to wisdom and wealth rather than mentioning God.
As you might expect if you are familiar with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, this is an interactive approach to reading that often seems like play. It incorporates literary vocabulary that stretches the child’s mind and imagination. I expect it will work especially well with children who enjoy “playing” with words.