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Emergent 1 Kit for New Emergent Readers Review by Brandi Tesreau

Jim Barber and Dr. Kay MacPhee
Ooka Island Inc.
3630 Woodbine Rd
Woodbine, MD 21797
1-877-307-3616
http://ookaisland.com/

Kayla, Jayden, and Boo are calling all emergent readers to join them on their everyday Ooka Island adventures! Bright colors, likable characters, and conversational text make these books a great choice for beginning readers.

Designed specifically for children ready to emerge into reading, Emergent Level 1 features 15 books divided into 3 sets of 5 which are arranged by increasing level of difficulty. Kayla and Jayden, Ooka Island's main characters, use natural language for better understanding and comprehension. Unique speech bubbles set these books apart and help children understand the connection between oral language and print.

A spiral bound instructional guide accompanies the emergent reader set. Parents and teachers will learn how to successfully present each story. Activities for each story include discussion and questions, acting out the story, sentence identification, word identification, and games related to word identification.

I like these colorful emergent readers, the detailed instructional guide, and the 94 story game cards, but the price is a little on the high side--$116.25. This price only covers the first set. To continue with the Emergent Level program, one would need to spend almost $300. Personally, as a home school parent, I would not be able to afford this program especially since I wouldn't use it as my primary phonics curriculum.

Ooka Island Books is the language-based component that can be bought in print or can be included in the online adventure e-reader. This curriculum also has phonological development. The 85 books in the e-reader and the phonological development is a $99 purchase yearly for one child. This option can be found by locating the Learn-to-Read Adventure tab and then choosing homeschoolers.

These books are great for showing young children the connection between spoken language and written language, but I wouldn't use them to teach phonics. I like for my children to have a strong foundation in alphabet and phonogram sounds before delving into reading. However, I know my way isn't the only way to produce proficient readers! Since my daughter is already reading fairly well, I had her read these books aloud to reinforce sounds and phonetic rules she's already learned.

While I prefer an early reading program that focuses primarily on phonics, this program may be a great fit for educators who prefer emergent readers that use storylines instead of repetitive language patterns. I recommend that parents and teachers download sample books from the website to see if this type of reading program would be a good fit for you and your children/students.

Product review by Brandi Tesreau, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2011

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