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Reading Theories

There have been various approaches proposed over the years on the best way to teach reading and they are hotly disputed. The debate is often referred to as the "Reading Wars"!

The reading wars have raged for around 300 years and the reason they have never been resolved is that neither approach has ever managed to deliver 100% functional literacy in any English-speaking country. The best we have ever achieved is around 80%, which leaves one child in every five struggling.

The two main camps have been "Phonics" and "Whole Word" approaches. Phonics has two main forms: Analytic (or Analytical) Phonics and Synthetic Phonics. There is also a Kinesthetic approach to teaching phonics, which involves physical activity to enhance the learner's sensory connection with the different phonemes.

The Whole Word approach has had multiple names attached to it, such as Real Books and Whole Language.

The latest option, developed in the early 21st Century, is "Guided Phonetic Reading".

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