The Bolton Boys' balloon adventure and other stories: Sound Stories by Barbara Murray

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An Introduction to Consonant Sounds: Part 1. Ill. by Sarah Hardy. Little Steps Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925545074
(Ages: 4-6) Themes: Phonemic Awareness, Synthetic Phonics. This has been written by the co-author of the Sound Waves resources, which teach spelling and reading skills using a phonemic approach, and is one of four books introducing the 43 consonant and vowel sounds used in the English language. Their aim is to help children hear and identify individual sounds within speech. This first book contains 12 short stories, each one focussing on a different consonant sound represented by the letters b, k, d, f, g, h, j, l, m, n, ng, and p. There are some slight differences between these 43 sounds and the popular Jolly Phonics programme sounds. Apparently, the Sound Waves sounds are those specifically heard by Australian children. The programme, being Australian, is also based on the Australian Curriculum. The stories are short and simple with a clear narrative structure, allowing for varied tone and pace when reading aloud. The book contains an explanation of phonemic awareness and synthetic phonics and clear guidelines for getting the most out of the stories. The lists of words using the target sound, in both the illustrations and the text, are useful, however it would be better if there were more things within the picture that begin with the target sound. While most of the pictures are quite detailed and contain many things beginning with the initial sound, there are a few that only have two or three. This is understandable for a sound like ng, but even the j illustration only has a jellyfish. It should also be noted that the text is small and is not suitable for helping children to recognise the visual manifestation of the sounds (a point of difference between the Jolly Phonics introductory books and this series). This is a great addition for schools using Sound Waves, but is a useful resource even for those using other synthetic phonics programmes such as Jolly Phonics.
Nicole Nelson