One of the first things people notice when they open a Carden® reader is the lack of illustrations. Although many texts and workbooks in the Carden curriculum are illustrated, the books used as primers for beginning readers are not. Why not?
Among all books, a reader (or primer) is unique in its purpose. It is designed to teach its user to read.
The Carden Reading Method functions by helping students identify and define facts about the sounds of English and the letters which represent them. Students apply these facts as they read in order to sound out words. The use of pictures in readers can provide clues which may encourage students to guess at a word, rather than apply the tools at their disposal to decode the word and actually read it. In fact, the use of illustrations in readers can hinder a teacher’s ability to recognize reading difficulties quickly. Therefore, the Carden readers Red Book, Blue Book, and Green Book are not illustrated. Students may be encouraged, however, to provide their own illustrations for these texts as a demonstration of their ability to understand what they have read.
Carden does include many beautifully illustrated books as part of the curriculum. When a book does not serve the exclusive purpose of teaching reading, illustrations often provide details that stimulate conversation, clarify ideas, or give important facts. Pictures may provide new details to the mental image a writer wishes to share with the reader.
The first book offered in the Three-Year-Old Program is Ask Mr. Bear, by Marjorie Flack. Discussion of the illustrations together with questions about the text of the story provide for beginning conversation, vocabulary development, and self-expression. The Tale of Peter Rabbit written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter is introduced in Grade One. Again, the illustrations provide for class discussion and vocabulary development. They are also quite beautiful.
So while our readers do not have pictures, most other Carden publications do. The children’s books we recommend and include in our curriculum are also illustrated.
We are currently working with South Carolina artist Dylan Helman to add new illustrations to our Three- and Four-Year-Old Program materials. Look for them on sale in 2017.