Peter Greene has older children and a set of young twins. He refers to the twins as the “Board of Directors of the Curmuducation Institute.” He, the father, is the CEO.

In this post, he confesses that his twins can’t read!

They turn the pages, they look at the pictures, but they can’t read!

Of course, they are only 2 1/2, so soon they will read, he is sure.

But this gives him the opportunity to delve into the recent renewal of the perennial Reading Wars!

Phonics or Whole Word? Phonics or Whole Language? Decoding or Comprehension?

I personally find this very tiresome because the Great Debate over reading was settled in 1967 by Jeanne Chall in a book called Learning to Read: The Great Debate. 

I summarized the Reading Wars in my book Left Back in 2000.

Phonics is necessary but not sufficient.

Some children learn to read without direct instruction.Some need direct instruction to learn to read.

Peter summarizes it like this:

Why is this so hard? You can’t have reading without decoding. You can’t have reading with only decoding. Reading involves a whole complex of skills, and none of those skills can be taught or acquired outside of the business of actually reading. Every reading student brings a different web of experience, knowledge, interest and processor power, which means that teachers need a toolbox filled with many tools.

I have a feeling that in about 20 years, some enterprising journalist will write a sensational book about “the reading crisis” and we will hear the same debate again, and again, and again.