|Back to June Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 149||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JUNE 1998|
With whole language firmly entrenched in public schools, good spelling books have become hard to find. The phonics-based Common Sense Spelling Book provides a welcome exception. This two-volume set will likely prove a valuable tool for home-school teachers and students especially, though site licenses are available from the publisher for use in traditional classrooms. Teachers will need to supplement with teaching instructions however, since the text is lacking in this area.
Originally written in 1913 by educator and administrator Thomas W. Butcher, The Common Sense Spelling Book's two volumes are actually two distinct parts. Part I is written for grades 1- 8, Part II for grades 9-12. Teresa Walker rediscovered the texts in the 1980s when she purchased a box of old books at the estate sale of a recently-deceased, elderly neighbor. She recognized that the volumes were "full of valuable academic information," but notes that "it wasn't until years later, while homeschooling my four children, that I realized their teaching power."
Walker decided to reprint the books. She revised the internal reference errors she discovered in the original version, and added an index and an appendix. The new edition contains author Butcher's preface, plus a preface by Mrs. Walker and a new introduction.
The Common Sense Spelling Book not only teaches the principles of phonics, but also the rules of spelling, and it incorporates vocabulary development through word study exercises in the form of character-building poetry. In her introduction, Mrs. Walker recommends a dictionary with phonetic markings as a "mandatory companion" to the spelling book. She cautions that contemporary dictionaries may use a few different phonetic markings from those found in Common Sense, and recommends that users compare these markings with those in the dictionaries they select.
Write to Republic Policy Institute Press, 44519 Foxton Ave., Suite 102, P.O. Box 789, Lancaster, CA 93584, or call 1-800-244-7196. CA residents add 8.25% sales tax. $4.00 shipping for first book, $1.00 for second book.