About writing stories that are easy to read

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P. Davis, SIL International

After students have learned to read all the letters of the alphabet, they are not yet ready to read everything. They need to build reading fluency, enlarge their vocabulary and gain experience with different types of literature before they are ready to manage difficult material like newspaper editorials. An effective literacy program will build slowly, as the graphs below show. By the last half of Grade 2 students will have reached the stage of Easy Reading and will need stories that progress slowly from very easy, controlled reading to the more advanced reading of Grade 4.

Principles to observe when writing easy stories

1. Begin with the common, every day language used at home and school.

2. Begin with familiar topics and concepts. Match the interests of your students.

2. Continue to use the strategies of good story writing.

3. Use any letters you need, but keep words and sentences fairly short.

4. Plan a progression of stories for Grades 2, Semester 2 through Grade 4. For example:

- My father's farm (how the family works together at different seasons)

- Animals / birds / interesting places of our kabella

- Wild animals of Africa

- Health books (about the prevention of common diseases)

- Grandmother's stories (simplified folk tales, songs, or history)

- Let's travel (a trip to see how different peoples of the world live)

- Vehicles (transportation around the world from donkey carts to space ships)

- Our heroes (important people in our region and what they did)

- Stories of our people (full, unedited folk tales, proverbs, poems, history, exhortations)

Notice how such a progression slowly requires increased vocabulary and adds new concepts. Unedited folk stories and exhortations are usually the most difficult reading of all the original literature of a people.

5. Gradually increase word length, sentence length, and formality of expression.
6. Expand genres to include speeches, newspaper articles, scripts for dramas.
7. Do not use translated material from another culture until students have reached the Advanced Reading stage in Grade 5. Translated material is the most difficult text of all because it not only has new vocabulary; it also contains cultural material unknown to the readers.
8. Recognize that for word recognition to become automatic and for new readers to become fluent, they will need many hours of practice. Dr. John Cairns, former director of the Experimental World Literacy Program, estimates that approximately 600 hours of reading practice is required for a student to have secured the skill of reading, if he/she has had no previous reading readiness experiences.
To maintain a student's interest for 600 hours, one book is not enough. We must develop a series of interesting stories and books appropriate to students' age and interests and arranged in progressive order.

About writing stories that are easy to read

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