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"The book's strength lies in the ability of the contributors to draw conclusions in relation to the reading debate and constructively justify moving away from the reliance on a single phonics approach based on evidence from empirical research...The book offers a timely warning against reading becoming synonymous withsynthetic phonics instruction, of children becoming mere 'functional decoders of print' (p. 53). The argument turns to the very real need for children to develop andunderstand the 'joy, relevance and use for reading' (p. 79); indeed in the current climate of synthetic phonics instruction children are in danger of losing the ability orthe will to look at a book for pleasure." Early Years Debates about the teaching of reading and particularly which phonics method teachers should use have been simmering for many years. This groundbreaking book offers critical perspectives on the teaching of reading and phonics, openly challenging contemporary policy in both England and the US. As well as providing refreshing insights into how children encounter texts in the increasingly complex world of literacy, the book celebrates the complexity, pleasure and passion that are the foundations of becoming a successful reader. Each chapter explores in-depth the processes involved as children engage in reading, from their interactions with texts in the very earliest stages through to the primary phase. Drawing on both research and theory, the book also shows how some contemporary understandings of reading are based on over simplistic and rationalised ideas about the reading process. A unique feature of this book is that it combines academic perspectives with the insights of parents and practitioners. The participation of those most closely involved with children complements the lively debate and contributions from researchers, providing a rich and inclusive range of ideas. Understanding Phonics and the Teaching of Reading is a stimulating read for educational studies students, students of teaching and learning, policy makers, educational researchers and teachers.