More than just books

Magic Belt Series


“So, the books are more than just books!”

Miriam Fein

I’d like to share my experience of using Phonic Books resources and my wholehearted recommendation! Just the other day I was telling another tutor (who will be working with a former student of mine) about Phonic Books. She was not familiar and I’m so excited for her to discover this amazing resource for her practice.

Catch-up Readers That Dog Series Inner PageThere are increasingly more options now for decodable or phonically controlled texts and many good ones on the market to explore. I find myself using Phonic Books as my core. The scope and sequence matches very well with my teaching, but there are so many other features that distinguish these books and make them so useful. They are cumulative, so each book is loaded with words containing the focus pattern, but also contain words with all the patterns I’ve previously taught, so my students can get lots of review and practice.

There are so many series to choose from so they can read several series that cover the same patterns—again providing that much needed review and repetition in an engaging way, with new stories and new characters. The stories are creative, humorous and diverse. Where else can you find books about girls and their animal sidekicks recovering lost dragon eggs, teenage rock and roll bands, wizards, magic, mythical creatures, and the adventures and misadventures of a boy and his new dog? There’s something for everyone.

I love how there are so many books in each series and short ‘chapters’ in each book. This gives struggling readers a real sense of accomplishment as they progress through each chapter and book. A distinctive feature of the books is the rich vocabulary and vocabulary previews. The word lists with the target pattern at the beginning of each book make it easy to do a quick reading drill, word sort, or dictation either before or after reading the book. Some books even contain built in games at the end to practice the target pattern. So the books are more than just books!

Talisman Series Workbook USAI also make heavy use of the aligned workbooks both before and after reading. I send pages home for practice and also use them in our sessions. My students especially love the “What isn’t true?” activity in some of the workbooks. It’s a super-clever way of working on accuracy, fluency and comprehension, but my students just think it’s fun! I’d have to say that my favorite series is not just one, but the whole Magic Belt-Totem-Talisman-Titan’s Gauntlets set. As my students’ reading skills grow with each new series, the characters themselves grow older too. My students make connections with the characters and love following them throughout their dangerous and exciting adventures. 


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This testimonial was written by speech-language pathologist and licensed reading specialist, Miriam Fein. Miriam lives near Boston, Massachusetts, and supports students from early elementary through high school with reading, spelling, writing, and language skills. She believes in the power of evidence-informed, systematic, and compassionate teaching for all learners. 

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