Meet Lynn Maslen, Author And Managing Partner At Bob Books Publications!INTERVIEWS | Nirasha Jaganath | October 20, 2010 at 5:59 pm
I love educational books. I do. It must be the geek in me. Needless to say the fact that my daughters are early readers and love books too thrills me to bits. We use early reading material in my home – but as fun. I don’t believe you can, or should, force a child to learn. Children learn at their own pace and I think making them not hate learning is very important. Having said that, children learn from what surrounds them – if you love music and play it often, kids pick it up. If you leave around early readers, chances are pretty high they will reach for the book too.
So when I was approached to review the Bob Books Sight Words series, I asked to speak to the people behind it. After many (unsuccessful) attempts to do a Skype interview (note to self – never buy a software without due research) and with the help of the kind folks at Big Honcho Media, we salvaged some transcripts from the audio. I know this may seem long but trust me, worth the read. Have I ever lied to you?
I got to chat with Lynn Maslen.
Lynn has been involved with the Bob Books right from the beginning, starting with paste up and lettering of the first edition in the 1970’s. She later spent several years in other ventures. She returned to the family business as her own daughter was beginning to read. That was when she gained true appreciation for the simplicity, fun, humor and easy success of Bob Books. Her daughter now joins the millions of kids that happily exclaim, “I read the whole book!”® Lynn lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband.
I haven’t gone through your full range of products. I’ve just seen your pre-school and your kindergarten Sight Words packs. Is there something that you work on outside of these, like phonics?
Well, I have two little Bob Books in the Bob Book set, but there are seven older Bob Books. The whole complete series works on sight words and phonics and some pre-reading alphabet. The first book is actually the Blue Book Bob Books: Set One.
As you go through the Blue Books, each book introduces about three letters, all of them phonetically. This way, you’re getting the foundation and learning experience together using words. And then, when you go up to Bob Books Sight Words Kindergarten or First Grade, they continue using that phonetic background or foundation, but then you’re introducing sight words, as well. Kids have the background of knowing how to sound out words. That’s a great foundation! They can sound-out when they sit down, they can stop and use their logic to work out C-A-T, cat.
Do you suggest parents start with phonics first or begin sight words first? Or should there be a mixture of both? I ask because it can be a little overwhelming as to whether you’re working on the phonics part or whether you’re learning a whole word?
That’s a great question that goes back decades. People have been talking about this for a very long time. And the research that I personally believe is it is correct to start with phonics, because it’s giving children a logical foundation. They can understand that they have to sound out the words.
After they have gotten a logical foundation, there are certain words in English that you cannot sound out. And there are some words that are just complicated and you can sound them out, but there are rules. There are a million rules! Such as I-G-H-T. Some kids have a very active memory and they’re very good at memorizing sight words. Good for them. They learn a little of the phonics, it makes sense and they start seeing words. They just remember them right off the bat. And they are typically fluent, fast readers.
However, for some kids, memory just doesn’t function as quickly. Therefore, phonics is their savior. It allows them to read when it’s a root word. When they come upon a new sight word, they can sound it out. If they’ve only learned sight words (and it’s very rare, but some parents love that), the challenge is when they start getting into complex words that they don’t know, they don’t have the skills to sound them out.
There are a lot of people that are very anti-flash words. I personally love it! However, a lot of people feel it pushes children too fast academically. How do you tackle this situation? For example, some parents feel that their children should learn naturally, meaning they should be picking things up at their own pace. Is what they learn in school good enough?
That’s a great question. I have to say that the background of the Bob Books is very progressive. You go at your own pace. The way Bob Books were written encourages a very slow and gradual environment. It would be an environment full of resources, full of blocks and the basic letters. Kids are playing, but they’re playing with educational toys and they’re getting information into their minds through playing.
When you sit down with “mat” and “sat,” they already have that information about the letters and sounds. When you explain this concept to them, it kind of makes sense. Then they’re excited to learn and want to move forward! The flash cards & instructions in each box have been pretty clear to use it as a game and a fun way to play with kids rather than as a test. And I don’t think it’s necessary to test kids. I think, intrinsically, they want to learn and they have knowledge.
Some kids are going to find it harder than others and it’ll be more work. My own daughter has some reading challenges, so it’s a lot of work for her. But, the important thing is to make it a fun way to play together rather than a confrontational way.
Stay tuned for a giveaway of this wonderful kit right here on MommyNiri.com