Friday, November 5, 2010

Learning to Read

Lesen in Silben: ABC der Tiere 1. (Reading in Syllables: ABC of the Animals) Romarie Handt and Klaus Kuhn, 88 pp
Publisher: Mildenberger
ISBN: 978-3-619-14290-3 (Hardcover)
See the publisher's website for price and orders:
German Level: Beginning
For a long time we flipped back and forth on how to teach reading. Do we start with German? Do we start with English? Do we try both at the same time? After talking with some other German/English families, we decided to begin with German. There are the umlauted letters to learn, but the language is much more phonetically regular than English. Our three-year-old has started this program, and so far it has been a great success. This does not necessarily speak to the genius of our daughter, but I think her success with the book at such a young age speaks to the simplicity and easy-to-follow approach of this book.
The first lesson is "Mu". What does the cow say? Mu, mu, mu. Gradually, the other vowels are added to m, and the stories grow. Then, there is only to introduce new consonants in following lessons. In later lessons, the syllables are separated by alternating colors, offering a big help to the little learner. There is a fantastic workbook that goes with the reader that would work well for older learners.
Unfortunately, this book is not available from Amazon just now. You must order from the publisher by clicking the link above.


  1. Although I don't teach reading until the child has lost his or her first teeth (normally around age 6 or 7), I do think that teaching German first makes more sense also. It is easier to learn at the beginning. English comes quickly later.

  2. For our first graders we have used the Tobi-Fibel with great success.

  3. I have found Lesen mit Silben so easy to use with our three year old and would recommend it to others. She loves books and wants nothing more than to read even if by herself, so we thought, why not teach her how to read? We are able to do just one lesson a week, sometimes more when she is excited, sometimes less when she is grumpy. I am sure it is meant to go more quickly than that, but she has certainly not lost her first tooth yet. She moves along when she is ready. Can you tell me more about Tobi-Fibel? Does it teach phonetically?

  4. I have never heard anybody talking about teaching German phonectically or not phonetically. In Germany you learn the letters and from there you build your words. So the first words in the "Tobi-Fibel" are names with a few letters, like "Alo" or "Ela." You than move on to longer words and short sentences. The most common letters are introduced first. Words with letters like x or y are introduced last. There is a workbook that goes with the "Fibel." It introduces the spelling rules and some simple grammar that go with the lessons in the "Fibel." You can also get a manuscript and cursive workbook that accompany the lessons. I don't have the teacher's manual because you need to be a German teacher to get it, but I don't think it's necessary. I love the pretty pictures in the "Tobi-Fibel." What is also unique about it is the story format. Each new letter/word gets introduced in a story that continues through the book, a story about the "Tobis."

    Just a brief explanation why I don't teach reading to the really young ones. I follow the child development theory as taught in the Waldorf schools (they are from Germany). The first seven years of a child are reserved primarily for the physical development, enriched by the arts, music, movement, and storytelling. All academic subjects don't start until first grade.

  5. Very good. It sounds like Tobi-Fibel is very similar to Lesen in Silben, except that the stories are about a family. I think I like that concept very much! Lesen in Silben builds up to stories as well that are mostly based on fairy tales, which I also find appealing.
    A note about education of the wee-ones: Another good book you might enjoy about early child development is "Better Late than Early". In general, I like that we moms can notice when our children are ready to learn something, and that often does not follow the standard order. Each child develops similarly, yet each child has different talents. My daughter has a proclivity to read early, my son #1 probably does not, but son #3 seems to have the same proclivity as daughter #1. Son #2 has a fantastic musical ear, however, and seems ready soon to start with instruments.
    For clarification, most of our daily time is spent doing just what you have described: physical dev., arts, music, rhythm, and storytelling, but 5 minutes per day are spent with mama and daughter cuddled up on the couch "reading" a new story that only she can read. She loves this time with me, and she loves that she can recognize words in other places now! So, although reading is often called an "academic" subject, I think it should be thought of as a wonderful tool for humanity and a great aid for our children as persons when they are ready for it. It might be at 3 years old or 12 years old. Either way, fun and developmentally enriching! :)