Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer

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A review of Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer.

I received Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer free in exchange for a review. These are my honest opinions and I was not required to post a positive review.

While searching for ways to improve my teaching of phonics and spelling, I ran across Kathy Jo DeVore’s Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer and decided to give it a try.

The result? My son and I are loving this program!

Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer begins by teaching the first 26 phonograms, essentially – the alphabet.

Once the first 26 phonograms, or alphabet, are learned then it jumps right into teaching kids how to read.

In our case, we jumped at the chance to use the new Reading and Spelling Through Literature Workbook 1. I wanted my son to run through the workbook to review the phonograms before we moved into new material for the school year. And it was perfect!

Reading and Spelling Through Literature Workbook

The Reading and Spelling Through Literature Workbook 1 teaches the alphabet through a variety of fun workbook pages. We started with my son working through 8-12 pages a day before slowing down to 4-6 pages a day.

We moved quickly since he was reviewing the material.

The first half of the workbook was spent just learning the phonograms. However, once a base was learned, three-letter words were introduced while more phonograms, or letters, were still being introduced. I especially appreciated the fact that the words were mixed together.

Sometimes the words were almost the same, except for the middle vowel.

  • dog, dig, dug

Other times the words belonged to the same word family.

  • rug, hug, mug

The writing was perfect. There was enough to practice the letters, but not enough to overwhelm my son.

And at the end of the workbook, words with the silent-e rule are introduced, words such as kite and cake. Words such as try, my, and cry are also taught.

My son loved working through the workbook!

Once we were almost finished with the workbook, we started working through the spelling lists in RSTL Primer.

Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer

Reading and Spelling Through Literature (RSTL) is the new edition of Reading Lessons Through Literature (RLTL).

RSTL Primer covers the same material as RLTL 1. By this, I mean the same words are taught, the words needed to read The Elson Reader Primer. However, RSTL has much more handholding involved. Handholding I needed!


Reading and Spelling Through Literature begins with the introduction. It gives you a quick start guide, the materials you need to begin the course, and other information to teach your children effectively. You’re also given tips for teaching non-writers.

Unlike the original Reading Lessons Through Literature, the phonograms are listed on two pages for each reference. The first page covers all of the basic phonograms and the second page covers the advanced phonograms. RLTL had each phonogram on its own page. Quite frankly, I love having the phonograms on two pages. It’s easy to reference and find the phonogram we’re currently learning.

Spelling Lists

The spelling lists are the heart of Reading and Spelling Through Literature. I haven’t counted the spelling lists, but there are between 46 and 52 spelling lists in RSTL Primer. And each spelling list includes 10 words.

At first glance, the lists are numbered oddly, 1A – 1H, 2A-2D, 3A-3B, etc. The reason is to correlate the lists with a specific story in the Elson Reader.

  • For example, the lists 1A – 1H are the words needed to read the first story in the Elson Reader.
  • 2A – 2D are the new words needed for the second story.
  • And so on and so forth.

This way you know when your child has covered the words needed for each story. No guessing involved!

Plus the lists are grouped in a way that makes sense to me. The list 1A covers CVC words and rhyming words. The list 1B covers CVC and type 1 silent E words. This meant that my son spelled not and then note. Mad and then made. It helped him understand the purpose behind the silent E.

New Phonograms Are Taught As you Learn to Spell

Other lists include new phonograms such as th, aw, and ir for you to teach your child. This lets you jump straight into teaching spelling and reading while slowly teaching the rest of the phonograms as you go. And the title of each list lets you know what each new list is teaching!

I love how much handholding the lists include. The lists begin with an overview of what’s being learned and written in a way for you to read to your child. And then you begin to spell the words.

Again, there’s plenty of handholding for you. The first few lists include step-by-step directions for how to walk your child through spelling the words. I love, love, love the step-by-step directions. They’ve helped me learn how to dictate the words correctly.

The detailed instructions continue even after the initial instructions for dictating words are dropped. You’re carefully guided in how to teach your child to spell each word!

Elson Readers

Reading and Spelling Through Literature includes the Elson Readers. The readers begin with simple and beautiful stories for your child to read before moving up to more difficult stories in later books.

What’s different about the stories in RSTL is that the phonograms are underlined. This means that TH and ER are underlined on the first few pages so kids know the two letters are part of the same phonogram.

The stories also begin with a pre-lesson that covers any information kids need to know, but may not have covered before they begin to read. For instance, some names are not taught in the spelling lists but are covered in the pre-lesson.

Reading and Spelling Through Literature Primer includes all 29 stories in The Elson Primer for you and your child to read together.

Reading Lessons Through Literature

Since I’ve chatted quite a bit about Reading Lessons Through Literature, let me tell you more about it.

Reading and Spelling Through Literature is the older edition of the program. The curriculum has been renamed and reorganized into Reading and Spelling Through Literature. The new name is also a more accurate description of the program as it teaches both reading and spelling!

After looking at both programs, I liked Reading Lessons Through Literature. But I love, love, love Reading and Spelling Through Literature!

For those who’ve seen Reading Lessons Through Literature, here are a few of the differences:

The numbers of the editions do not correlate.

  • RLTL 1 covers the same material as the RSTL Primer.
  • RLTL 2 covers the same material as RSTL 1.
  • So on and so forth

The reason for the change in the numbering system is to match the book with the Elson Reader that correlates with it. This way, you know that RSTL Primer will teach kids to read and spell the words in Elson Primer.

Second, the word lists have been rearranged.

Quite frankly, the word lists make much more sense to me now. The lists seemed random in the first edition, but now similar words have been combined into the same word list.

For instance, the first list included only CVC words making it an easy way to start spelling lessons. And another word list taught the silent e rule – and had my son reading and writing words such as mad and made, kit and kite.

Third, you’re walked through the correct manner to dictate the words to your kids.

And by correct manner, I mean you’re guided by a detailed script for the first few lists. Even the later lists include all extra information to ensure you know how to correctly dictate the word.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the handholding!

Fourth, all the basic phonograms are on one page and the advanced phonograms are on a second page.

In RLTL the phonograms each had their own page. It was a nuisance to print out and a nightmare to find the correct sounds for any new phonogram you needed to teach.

The current system of having the phonograms on one page doesn’t hinder the learning at all and makes it simple to find the phonogram you’re studying and its corresponding sounds.

In short, my son and I are loving Reading and Spelling Through Literature. He loves learning how to spell. We’re working through the 5-10 words a day, depending upon how difficult the words are.

Now we’re not using a notebook instead, he’s writing the words on a slate each day. He adores writing and erasing words. I love having a happy kid. And that’s one of the beauties of RSTL. You can make it work for you!

So if you’re looking for simple reading and spelling lessons, you need Reading and Spelling Through Literature. It’s an amazing program my son and I adore!

More Information:

Reading and Spelling Through Literature

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  1. My grandchildren are in 3rd grade, almost 10. I am going to supplement with classical education approach. What resources do you recommend for reading?

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