Development of Orthographic Knowledge and the Foundations of Literacy: A Memorial Festschrift for Edmund H. Henderson

By Shane Templeton; Donald R. Bear | Go to book overview

3 Concept of Word: A Pivotal Understanding in the Learning-to-Read Process

Darrell Morris
Appalachian State University

The date was late August 1931. It was a drizzly North-Eastern day in late summer. The grown-ups were away or doing other things; my sister was visiting a friend. I had checked out the fruit bin and the peanut butter jar twice. Now I was perched on a wicker sofa. I was bored, chilly, and I wished that I knew how to read.

There was a grown-up book on the table. I opened it up on my knees and wondered how reading was done. The cover was green cloth, the pages were roughly cut at the edges. The print was gray-black; the paper was creamy. I pushed at the print with my finger and tried talking at it. But it didn't work, and I knew I was being silly. On the page there were letters--here a t, there an h--but nothing cohered, nothing declared itself, nothing afforded the saying of anything. There were numbers at the top of the page, a one, an eight, and a seven. And thereafter some peanut butter tracings remained on the page. The book was Typee by Herman Melville, and I am grateful to be able to report that I did get it read a good many years later. ( Henderson, 1981)


INTRODUCTION

Some 35 years later, the late Edmund Henderson, author of this childhood recollection, was a graduate student studying the psychology and pedagogy of reading at the University of Delaware's reading clinic. His professor, Russell Stauffer, called him over one day to show him a first-grade boy, Billy, struggling to read back a short, two-sentence dictated account.


My Dog

Happy is my dog's name.
He likes to lick people's fingers.

-53-

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