Showing posts from 2019

Reading Backwards

Despite what the title may suggest, I am not going to talk about the myth that Dyslexics read backward. Instead, I am going to point out how purposely reading backward (word by word, not sound by sound) can help break a guessing habit. In David Kilpatrick's book, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties , he provides a good overview of how we read, including using decoding, context, and contextual guessing. He states, "For weak readers, contextual guessing allows them to bypass the orthographic mapping process, which secures a particular written word in memory for later, instant recall." (page 39) Hmm, skipping the process that secures a written word in memory for later, instant recall. That doesn't sound good. So, what do you do when your student, who may have been taught specifically to guess the word from the context, keeps guessing instead of slowing down to decode the word? Several strategies can be used, including using high

A Sunday Afternoon

While the audio isn't the best in this video from The Reading League, it had me captivated for a Sunday afternoon. The couch, a fuzzy blanket, a snuggly dog and learning more about decodable text's place in reading development made it a good afternoon. It is important to practice what you are learning. Decodable text, which matches the level of instruction, helps students with their reading. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Barton Reading and Spelling System scope and sequence as it addresses reading and spelling. It has made finding decodable texts at my student's instructional level a little more difficult though. Thankfully there are several stories in each Barton Reading & Spelling System lesson and some stand-alone texts from Bright Solutions. ( )  As a mother of a struggling reader, I still was jealous of the multitude of inaccessible "beginning" reader books at the library. I spent a lot of time lookin

So Excited! The Black Silk Path Cover

Here is the front cover for The Black Silk Path.   I'm so thankful Michael Pyle took the job to design it!  


I can describe myself as a perfectionist.  Well, I used to describe myself that way.  I have had many lessons over the years to help change that. I came to realize I couldn't do all things perfectly.  As life became fuller and richer, it was also harder to manage "perfectly."  I had to learn to add words like "balance" and "good enough."  While excellence is still a goal, I now consider more than just the specific task at hand.  I also weigh what needs to be excellent and what doesn't have to be. I am continuing to learn to let go of perfectionism, or maybe it is insecurity.  Either way, I realize my job as a tutor is to ask students to be imperfect in front of me on a daily basis.  As struggling readers, they often make mistakes. That can be tough, especially if you are a perfectionist. I have avoided things that would be too hard for me. I have also tried new things despite them being too hard.  I have had a lot of fun and found new skills

A Little Inspiration

Today, I was able to listen to a short discussion with William Dodson: 5 Ways to Engage a Student with ADHD on the Smart but Struggling Student Series by Bright &Quirky. Dr. Dodson mentioned a technique of interjecting interest into a low-interest or boring activity. That interjected interest may light a fire to turn a "can't get started" into a "can't be stopped." I am reminded that growing up I had to vacuum the avocado green shag carpet.  Imagining that I was harvesting fields of crops with farming equipment instead of vacuuming a green carpet made the chore so much more bearable.  Imagination often helped me with a chore. I hope that Ed and Mel's predicament in The Black Silk Path and following books may be borrowed by some students.  They can relate some already to the characters' difficulty with words.  Maybe they can imagine themselves on a quest to rescue the lost and learning the short vowel sounds will help. Maybe the fight agai


Let me introduce myself.  My name is Heather Doolittle.  I have always loved books and the stories they hold.  Growing up, I listed "reading" as one of my hobbies.  Even with my love of books, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be writing a book, much less a book series.  Yet here I am starting a blog for the book I will soon publish. How did I get here?  Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a part of my family's life. Now my interest in reading has expanded beyond consuming the words.  I am interested in how we read. I am interested in the complexities of what reading is. (Would you call a student who listens to book after book but can't yet read the text a reader?) And I am interested in helping others learn to read. One thing I have learned is the importance of decodable text to a beginning reader especially when they are struggling.  I also learned that when you are committed to break the cycle of guessing and frustration by sticking to books that are highly d