by Barbara Murray

These delightful stories, printed in large clear type and illustrated with drawings by Mary Ward Thompson, are written using simple words. The words are more than simple: they are phonic. That is, they are carefully chosen to be those whose spelling keeps to the rules that children have encountered at their stage of reading. The few words in each story that advance beyond these limits are placed in a short vocabulary before it (“Words to Try” with the parent or teacher).

Educators have long debated the merits of the phonic versus the “look-and-say” or whole-word approach; the consensus seems to be that phonic principles best help children toward mastery over the tangle of English spelling.There is now also a realization that those suffering from dyslexia are best helped by phonics.

The stories are divided into four groups, for the first four Montessori reading levels, introduced by pages with the colors assoiated with these stages in the MNontessori system.

From simplicity arises beauty. These stories are gently moving, and children love them.

6 x 9 in.; 66 pages. 2002 (as 4 separate booklets, published by Alpiine Press with assistance of Univeral Workshop); reprinted 2006; one-volume edition 2013..

First Fables
Retold from Aesop: “The Boy and the Nuts,” “The Ant and the Dove,” “The Wind and the Sun.”
(Level 1, red.)

The Queen of Spain and Other Stories
“The Queen of Spain,” “King Midas and the Wish,” “Androcles and the Lion.”
(Level 2, green.)

The Old Woman and her Pig
A cumulative story—will the old woman get home tonight?
(Level 3, pink.)

Tales from India
“The Withered Tree” and “The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal.”
(Level 4, yellow.)

Phonic Books excerpt