The Phonics Reading Book
Federal Tax ID #: 74-3074916 State Tax ID #: 45-8015778973-8
My personal testimony involves three generations (and a college roommate to boot): (1) my mother, Rita D. Newman contributing author and early childhood educator whose preschool my daughter attended; (2) my (NJD, author) personal story of struggling to learn to read in elementary school; and (3) my daughter mentioned above whose desire to learn to read in kindergarten led to the development of this program.
For my part, I remember a teacher looking over my shoulder - in early elementary school, with the unspoken thought, "Can't you just get this?" [reading thing]. I remember feeling like, "Can't you just break this down for me, please?" You see phonics [the building blocks of reading] is really just two steps: (1) knowing the sounds the letters make, & (2) putting those sounds together. And, boy, did I struggle back then - even going to summer school.
Honestly, I never even heard of phonics until I got to college. My college roommate and I were both mildly dyslexic. I remember looking at him, with the thought "how did you become a valedictorian?" He caught my skepticism and replied, "phonics" - giving me a clue into his successes. I had no idea what phonics was - at that juncture.
So, why wasn't I taught phonics in New Jersey? Decades later I ran into a retired certified reading specialist from New Jersey, who explained. I happened to be showing my newly minted reading program around. She was a friend of a family member on my wife's side. She looked at my book and said, "The pictures are gorgeous. This is great..." Her comment confused me. So I asked, "Wendy, why of all things are you commenting about the pictures?" She told me that when phonics first came out the publishers didn't put pictures in the books so it didn't keep the children's interest. At that point, the schools dropped it.
The third and final piece of this generational story is mentioned above and detailed a bit on the copyright page. My daughter - having attended my mom's preschool got a taste for reading, but wasn't learning it in kindergarten. About a month into kindergarten she came to me and said "Dad I want to learn to read". So I bought two books from Amazon to remain nameless. One was making it too difficult and the other wasn't doing enough.
So, I asked a friend of mine from the preschool whose son was reading on a second grade level the year before in their preschool class. (He happened to be a close friend of my daughters.) When I asked how she taught Jason she said, "With three letter words". My daughter and I also happened to have a letter sound tape in the car. Well, at that point it dawned on me - that if they knew three letter-sounds they could read a three letter word. So I started putting pages together: letter sound page, letter sound page, reading page. Note: it wasn't without a bump or two. For instance, in going from short vowel /a/ words: "bat", "cat", "hat", "sat", "mat", to short vowel /i/, my daughter wasn't quite ready. I needed to put in a review page. And, I still remember the look on her face when she saw it. A smile crept over her face, and you could see the wheels turning. It worked: by the end of the semester she was reading.
Note: my mom, Rita, was a very successful preschool director. She always had a waiting list and got rave reviews from parents and students alike. On one of our required parental volunteer days (~one per month), I observed my mom in the front of the four-year class pointing to the alphabet letters and singing the alphabet song, herself. While this may be considered "old-school", this can be an important pre-learning step, introducing letters - while keeping a certain high-tone of fun (in both singing the alphabet song, and seeing that it represents something)! It really is fun to see non-readers become readers.
Den Publishing Company was founded in 2002 by Nicholas J DeCandia, CPA. He was working his way up the corporate accounting ladder, and into a widely-advertised position entitled, Full Charge Bookkeeper (FCB). He'd seen it advertised in both Orlando, Florida and Albuquerque, New Mexico. And, he had also recently attained that position having worked for a startup Waste Disposal Company in the late 90s. With so much going on in that position, A/P, A/R, payroll, payroll taxes, financial statements etc, he wanted to put that book on his shelf. But it didn't exist. So with writing ability intact, he decided to take a stab at it, and self-publish - to boot! It's been quite successful (reference: FCB testimonials).
Fast forward a few years to 2004: Nick's five-year-old daughter just entered kindergarten. As mentioned on the Home Page / Origin story - she wanted to learn to read, which became the birth of Den's reading program. A host of titles has followed, also doing well (ref.: Evolution of Content & Titles, below). It started with my daughter's Kindergarten teacher wanted four copies for her classroom, and has progressed to adoptions by both the great state's of New Mexico and Utah.
As mentioned in the origin story on the home page, the original title was "My Child's First Reading Book" (MCFRB) - because it really was my child's first reading book. However, my mom - contributing author Rita - saw that it worked for more than just her granddaughter, when she started selling it at her preschool. So, she suggested a title change. That's when "First Reading Book"** (FRB) aka "Student's First Reading Book" took hold. After some time, we realized we could give students more help on the reading pages, by hyphenating the 3-letter words in addition to the whole word. That's when "The Phonics Reading Book"** (TPRB) was born. Note: we still maintain MCFRB and FRB as "whole language" reading pages. When Nick started working with his church's pre-Kindergarten program, he decided to develop instruction to include the alphabet, which is a pre-requisite of MCFRB, FRB & TPRB. Hence, the "Alphabet Book, with Pre-phonics For Preschoolers" was born! Note: pre-phonics is phonemic or sound awareness (and found to be an important* bridge between the alphabet and phonics). Finally, Den put together a compilation series, "Alphabet to Phonics"! *Reference: the National Reading Panel's research. **Reference: Product differentiation vs. program consistency