The Reading Edge: Using Phonics Strategically to Teach Reading.


126 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55138-186-9
DDC 372.46'5





Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings is a public-school teacher and librarian in Ajax,


This entertaining, inspiring, and highly readable guide is a must-have resource for primary teachers. Packed with strategies and exercises designed to teach reading “effectively, efficiently and happily” to kindergarten and grade 1 children, it has been proven to be equally as valuable when used with non-readers in grades 2 and 3.


Each chapter begins with a classroom anecdote and ends with teacher assessment black line masters. Interspersed throughout are photographs of students and teachers at work, quotes from reading experts, and comments and “asides” from authors Kaz and Cathy Miyata. “Tips for Implementing …” the various strategies are boxed for easy reference.


Chapter 2 provides an overview of the skills children need in order to learn to read independently and includes exercises to review basic phonics along with strategies for developing a vocabulary of high-frequency words.


Chapter 3 deals with assessment, not just of letter, sound, and number recognition but also of social maturity, language, communication and observation skills, ability to sort and classify, and general knowledge. In their discussion of instructional groups the authors quickly dispel the notion that reading groups are demeaning to children. However, they do suggest that groups be limited to just five or six students to allow for individual attention. Readers are also reminded that instructional groups are not static; they require adjustment from time to time based on student needs.


Subsequent chapters focus on the skills which, when mastered, will give kids “The Reading Edge.”


“The Art of Blending” uses storytelling, dance, drama, music, and visual arts to demonstrate how letters combine to make words.


“Patterned Decoding” focuses attention on families of words through devices such as mini worksheets, flip books, and word searches.


“Words in Context” introduces “Silly Sentences” which require children to rely on blending and decoding rather than visual clues. When able to read these sentences confidently, children are ready to start reading books.


“Extending Patterned Decoding” outlines approaches for introducing initial digraphs, initial consonant blends, ending digraphs, initial blends with three sounds, “ing” endings, silent e, and vowel digraphs.


While the strategies, exercises, and games contained in each chapter of The Reading Edge may be used in isolation, the authors have found that optimum results occur when used sequentially. In Chapter 8 they outline that sequence.


The final chapter suggests ways of connecting with and involving parents in the child’s reading development.


The Reading Edge with its wealth of practical ideas and suggestions amassed during Kaz and Cathy Miyata’s more than fifty years of teaching would be invaluable for beginning and experienced teachers alike. Highly recommended.


Miyata, Kaz., “The Reading Edge: Using Phonics Strategically to Teach Reading.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,