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Monday, December 8, 2008

RimeToRead


RimeToRead is a "color coded beginning reading program based on rimes".
So what's a rime?
NOT a misspelling, if that's what you are thinking :-). Rimes are word families. Ironically, they also DO rhyme, but unlike words such as true, dew, and too (which rhyme, but are spelled totally differently), rimes are words that sound alike AND are spelled alike. Words like cat, bat, sat, and rat.
RimeToRead was initially a printed series of books, but they were wildly popular and when they sold out of all their printed books, they decided to embrace technology and turn to a digital format. Currently, there are 20 books available (4 for each short vowel sound) and each one focuses on a particular word family. They do build sequentially though, so words and characters from earlier books appear in later stories. Thirty five common sight words also appear in the books. Each book is about 12 pages long, and the text is augmented with darling illustrations.
The RimeToRead books remind me very much of the popular "Bob" books. They are not meant to be deep, meaningful literature, but rather to give a beginning reader a feeling of success at being able to read an honest-to-goodness book. They offer good repetition of sounds already learned to maintain mastery. And did I mention I really like the illustrations :-)? Very cute! Once you purchase the 20 books on-line, they are yours to use over and over. Your purchase also entitles you to print one copy of each book. As a bonus feature, any of the rimes can be clicked on and the word is then "read" for you, so if a child is struggling, the correct pronunciation is readily available.
But there are a few drawbacks. First, they are virtual books. Virtual. Like there's nothing to curl up on the couch with, unless you enjoy snuggling with your child and your computer. And while you can print them if you prefer tangible books, that adds to the overall cost of the program, which would be my second, and largest, drawback. You can purchase a set of 4 books for one short vowel sound for $9.99. The entire set of 20 is $44.99. I personally think that's steep for something that is not a tangible product and is usable for only a small window in your child's learning. But then again, giving them success at reading may well be priceless. I did find a few places where sentence fragments and not full sentences are used, and that bugged me. My last critique would be that some of the pronunciations aren't, well, correct, in my opinion. "Dan" sounds more like "den", and since correctly identifying the sounds made by these short vowels is key to reading and spelling, I think they need to be dead-on.
To me, the bottom line here is that this is supplemental to a regular reading curriculum, not a curriculum itself. The books are short, sweet, and the drawings are precious. But I personally would have a hard time recommending them fully, especially in light of most people's economic situation, because they are fairly pricey and are not even a complete program (no long vowel sounds available). I hope some day in the future they are able to expand their offerings or drop their price so that more people might be able to take advantage of their well-developed product. You can (and should) try the first book for FREE at their website http://www.rimetoread.com/ to gauge whether these books are something that will work for you.
If you want to read reviews by other Crew members of this same product, please go HERE.
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