First Aid for Reading


226 pages
ISBN 1-55138-113-3
DDC 372.46'5




Illustrations by Caanan Grall
Reviewed by Susan Thomas

Susan Thomas is a middle-school guidance counselor, teacher, and social
worker in Milton, Ontario.


Parents, teachers of children with special needs, and tutors are always
searching for high-interest, low-level materials to help them teach
children to read. It is especially important to have a tool that can
reach a range of children with a diverse range of needs. Pictures,
large-sized type, and accessible step-by-step plans that can be
photocopied are essential elements of a good “learning to read”

These needs are met by First Aid for Reading, a systematic,
phonics-based program. It offers a simple but valuable pretest to help
pinpoint sounds that are causing difficulty for students. This leads to
68 specially directed lessons that are sequential and build carefully
toward a mastery of approximately 2500 words featured in context so that
students will have reviewed virtually all of the sounds and letter
combinations in the English language. Students are encouraged to develop
strategies such as checking for meaning, rereading to find context cues,
and looking for smaller, known words inside longer ones. Each lesson
offers the opportunity for evaluation and positive feedback; there is
even a certificate for those who complete the whole course.

One lesson per session is recommended to avoid overloading students.
Users are encouraged to photocopy the pages and laminate cards for
durability. At strategic locations throughout the book, there are
revision lessons in the form of the Fish Game, which provides further
opportunities to reward hard work.

We have used this text with 13-year-olds to assess their reading
problems; the pretest alone has provided valuable information in a fast
and easy way. The lessons are proving most helpful with 10- and
11-year-olds who are finding first-time success and fun with this
approach. If you have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a
struggling reader, this book is a tool you should have. Highly


Stoneman, Sonya., “First Aid for Reading,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,