30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, SPELLING THROUGH PHONICS, by The McCrackens, Foreward by Dr. Shane Templeton, Portage Main Press


The first edition of Spelling Through Phonics was published in 1982. Since then, over 300,000 copies have been sold. This 30th Anniversary Edition, is available in the same compact, easy-to-use format that teachers want. It contains: the McCrackens’ original spelling instruction program an explanation of phonemic awareness and why children need to acquire it detailed instructions on how to teach spelling—easily, quickly, and efficiently methods to organize children’s spelling practice within the school day reproducible spelling checklists for grades 1–3 This 30th Anniversary Edition is dedicated to the memory of The McCrackens’ teaching, and honours their invaluable contributions to language arts across North America.

approx. 192 pages

Out August 2012


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Originally published in 1982 and boasting sales of 300,000 copies or more since then. There’s been a few additional editions since then but overall, not much has changed by way of content. The reason for my asking to review this book is because of the following:

I ran into a friend who teaches early grades in public school. We sat down for a coffee and started discussing each other’s careers when the topic turned to the lack of ability for some of our younger children in society to spell properly.

My position was that the cause was obviously the removal of English grammar and phonics as a class from classrooms. We debated a bit, mostly with her saying I’m living with viewpoints from the stone age and me saying that education doesn’t produce rounded individuals anymore because of computers and technology. We agreed to disagree, hugged and parted ways. However, this topic stayed on my mind and apparently on hers too. She called me and suggested I get a hold of a copy of this book and see what I thought about it.

So, I did just that. Thanks to the publisher, I was able to have a copy sent to me to examine/read. I must say, this is quite the book. But is twenty minutes each day enough? We use the english language more than we think. Sentence structure, grammar and proper word usage and spelling are critical in portraying who we are in society. So when a person can’t write the correct form of they’re, their, and there in a sentence, should we worry? I say absolutely.

The other factor not considered in the program the book outlines, is how to change this program to suit the needs of those with limitations, such as children with special needs. Everything is fundamentally based on the fact that children are expected to develop in a certain way, at a certain pace. The book doesn’t really make room for special needs, or, for those children who excel beyond normal developmental levels. Of course, lessons can be adjusted to fit the need. I just wonder why there’s no clearly defined exercise books for such children. Inclusion gets them into the room, then what?

How can we accept a system that says here’s the typical learning tool, we’ll just adjust it according to need. Each person has different needs. Why not a more specifically targeted book? As a parent of a special needs child, one with Down syndrome, I can honestly say that children with special needs like my child’s can learn, they just do it differently and at a slower pace. So with inclusion, they get into the classroom, but to be successfully contributing members of society, they need educational tools developed to fit their needs available to them once there. Currently, it seems schools are more interested in providing behavior managers to classes so that the school can say at least the child is included. Sure, but what are they learning?

For typical children, this book is perfect, well thought out and an excellent tool for teachers. For special needs children simply tailoring a typical child’s learning tool is not enough to meet the individual specific special need. We need to come up with a more practical tool geared to acquiring success at a speed more realistic to their situation. It has to allow special needs individuals a more selective approach to the skills that enhance those qualities necessary for them to contribute to society–namely: reading, and writing skills.

Putting a proper sentence together isn’t going to help them read a label. Learning to spell according to grade level based on age expectations, isn’t going to help them write a cheque, sign a document or write their name and address.

As a teacher’s tool, I can see how this would benefit a teacher.

I gave this book:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.