BOB Books and Food Words

by Rebecca J on 2012-11-11

I recently ordered a set of BOB Books, thinking that they would be helpful in starting to teach Emily how to read. Some of the parenting blogs Iʼve read have great things to say about them as an emerging literacy tool. They come in a box set, which is very appealing to kids who like to take stuff out of containers (e.g. my children), and each book has about 10 pages in it. They are perfect for little hands.

It turns out that the books are also great for my listening practice! Each book emphasizes only a few sounds, and words are repeated. Sentences are short. The plot, if it can be called that, does not require much mental effort to follow, allowing me to concentrate on listening to the words. “Mat.” “Sam.” “Mat sat.” “Sam sat.” “Mat sat on Sam.” (This is where things finally get interesting.) “Sad Sam.” “Sad Mat.” “The End.” Thatʼs the first book. The second and third books introduce Dog, Cat, and Dot, and the perils of putting a hat on a dog.

Weʼve been going through those for the last two nights of practice. Here are a few things that Iʼve noticed as Iʼve listened to William reading. “Cat” is always intelligible, but “hat” sounds like “hot” or “hut.” William joked that my dream of living with an English-accented man has finally come true. But it is such an interesting phenomenon. “Cat” and “hat” have the same vowel sound, but for whatever reason, Iʼm not recognizing the “a” in “hat.”

Something similar is happening with “dog,” which often sounds like “dug.” And “rag” sounds like “red.” Any linguists out there who can explain why?

And if you remember the vocabulary card that I once threw across the room in frustration, youʼll be pleased to know that tonightʼs practice with that list ended happily. We reviewed the list of food words. William read through the list several times so that I could hear each word. Then I closed my eyes to listen, without any external cues. “Oatmeal.” “Cheese.” “Banana.” “Lunch meat.” And a bunch of other food words. My comprehension wasnʼt perfect, and there were several words that I had to repeat. But by the time we had gone through the list several times, there was only one word out of 16 that I still wasnʼt able to pick up: “apple.” The day that I can actually understand “apple” will be a major milestone because it continues to trip me up. Another problem for my linguist friends to consider!

The sound that has started to be an auditory guidepost for me is “s”. Iʼve never been able to hear the “s” sound in words. Now when I do my listening practice, I can hear it so clearly in words, even when the other consonants are not as clear. Who would”ve ever guessed it?