I've also mentioned that I taught myself to read when I was only 3 years old. What happened was that one of my father's customers gave him an old blackboard for his children.The blackboard had a roller gizmo on the top with pictures of words and their spelling under them. Whenever, you turned the knob, a new set of pictures and words appeared. By matching the whole words to the pictures, I figured out how to read. My mother didn't even suspect that I could read until she caught me reading the newspaper she had spread on the table to wrap the garbage in. In those days, in Providence, all garbage had to be wrapped in newspapers to be picked up by the garbage men.
Since my parents had a modest library, which included Heidi, Little Women, Eight Cousins, The Good Earth and Gone with the Wind, before I was old enough to get a library card, I had devoured every book in my house, including the encyclopedia The Book of Knowledge dating from 1924. My parents never tried to teach me to read at all. They were more concerned that I should learn to embroider, knit, sew and crochet. What good was a girl who was a bookworm? I never even came close to learning those female skills. In fact, I flunked kindergarten which, in those days, made us fold papers, color within the lines and other, to me, undoable hand skills.
Even though my parents never thought of even valuing my reading skills, they unwittingly did set the stage that allowed me to learn on my own.
An aside: I have ties to the Filipinos in the USA. They have appealed to me to buy books in English for native speakers of Tagalog in rural areas of the Philippines. As part of my upbringing as an Orthodox Jew, giving to charity has always been important to me. Still, I refused these requests because it is a waste of money. I explained to the Filipinas that their concern was wonderful, but that trying to teach children to read standard English, when it wasn't their native tongue was futile. But, I had a better idea--which they negated.
The better idea? As I said, in order to learn to read, you have to let the children read. How can this be done? While buying my granddaughter a Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, I discovered that B&N makes a special Kid's Tablet, which they virtually give away. It costs $100, but they give you more than that in free coupons to populate the tablet with books and games. I couldn't resist trying it out. I already knew that B&N had an incredible library of children's book in the 2,000,000 volumes for their eReaders. That's why I chose the Nook for my granddaughter so she could read all the classics intact with the original engraved pictures on her tablet.
What has this to do with the Philippines? The kid's Tablet has a slew of brilliantly illustrated children's books which can be "read" by a narrator who reads the words on the printed page as the child is "reading." Easily, many 3 year olders could teach themselves to read this way, matching each word to the narrator's pronunciation.
It works. My Assistant remarked to me that her 3 year old wanted to read, but she didn't know how to teach her. A visit to the Nook Center in the Barnes and Noble store resulted in a Kid's Nook for Christmas. In 3 months, her child was reading on her own. Today, my Assistant took her little girl to the Providence Public Library to get her first library card. (You can also download library books onto your Nook.)
I asked my friend how much time she'd spent teaching her daughter to read on the Nook, and she said that all she did was give it to her daughter, and her daughter (who was already acquainted with an iPhone) just played games, watched movies and listened to books on her own. The child even recorded herself reading--another neat feature. In any event, the child was allowed to learn on her own. It works.
Everything I know about the process of reading, and I know a lot, predicts that schools should leave their books on their shelves and, in early education, purchase Kid's Nook Tablets. B&N would probably sell them to schools for a song. Teachers could select what books they want the kids to read. There are even spelling games. And math games. Just watching the little kids playing with the demos at the local B&N store shows how into tablets kids are. Even before the age of 3. As for the problem of theft, the Tablets would have to be bolted with chains on their tables.
Considering the millions of dollars trying to teach kids to read, and failing, outfitting early education classes withe these Kid's Tablets would be cheaper and more effective than what is being done now. Nonstandard speakers would also learn standard English as they learn to read by noting how the narrator pronounces each word.