Why Teach Dolch Words?
The child who can recognize on sight 8 of the 10 words in a sentence before him can read that sentence and, generally, decode the remaining words by means of context, phonics, or illustrations. Most importantly, he can understand its meaning. In other words, mastery (by sight) of Dolch words is vital for reading comprehension!
The 220 Dolch Words comprise from 60 to 85% of the text in children's early reading materials. Therefore, a child who knows the Dolch Words has much of the base needed to recognize the majority of the words in a typical selection. The Dolch Words in the following excerpt from a popular children's book are shown in red to serve as a graphic example of this point. Dolch Sight Words comprise 81% of the vocabulary and 88% of the total text used in this book ("Ten Apples Up On Top!" by Theo. LeSieg).
One apple up on top.
Two apples up on top.
Look, you. I can do it, too.
Look! See! I can do three!
Three... Three... I see. I see.
You can do three but I can do more.
You have three but I have four.
Look! See, now. I can hop with four apples up on top.
And I can hop up on a tree with four apples up on me.
Look here, you two. See here, you two. I can get five on top. Can you?
I am so good I will not stop. Five! Now six! Now seven on top!
Seven apples up on top! I am so good they will not drop.
Five, six, seven! Fun, fun, fun! Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!
But, see! We are as good as you. Look! Now we have seven, too.
And now, see here. Eight! Eight on top! Eight apples up! Not one will drop.
Eight! Eight! And we can skate. Look now! We can skate with eight.
But I can do nine. And hop! And drink! You can not do this, I think.
We can! We can! We can do it, too. See here. We are as good as you!
We all are very good I think. With nine, we all can hop and drink!
Nine is very good. But then... Come on and we will make it ten!
Look! Ten apples up on top! We are not going to let them drop!
Look out! Look out! I see a mop.
I will make the apples fall. Get out. Get out. You! One and all!
Come on! Come on! Come down this hall. We must not let our apples fall!
Out of our way! We can not stop. We can not let our apples drop.
This is not good. What will we do? They want to get our apples, too.
They will get them if we let them. Come! We can not let them get them.
Look out! The mop! The mop! The mop!
You can not stop our apple fun. Our apples will not drop, not one!
Come on! Come on! Come one! Come all! We have to make the apples fall.
They must not get our apples down. Come on! Come on! Get out of town!
Apples! Apples up on top! All of this must stop, STOP, STOP!
Now all our fun is going to stop! Our apples all are going to drop.
Look! Ten apples on us all! What fun! We will not let them fall.
When kids hooked on phonics programs have just learned to read "A fat cat sat on a mat," or "A big pig did a jig", Picture Me Reading students already are happily and fluently reading such books as Ten Apples Up On Top, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and other Dr. Seuss favorites, often making 6 MONTHS of reading progress in 6 WEEKS or less! Fluent readers only sound out words they do not already know by sight. Phonics decoding is an important skill, but it is much easier to teach when there is a good base of sight words for the child to refer to when learning phonics.
Here Are More Examples
of Beginner Books with a high percentage of Dolch words
These examples clearly illustrate the importance of early mastery of the Dolch sight words. Many Dolch words do not fit the usual rules of phonics (e.g., of, laugh, one, once, eight, could) and are therefore impossible for early readers to "sound out". The Picture Me Reading visual-conceptual method eliminates the need to try to explain the many exceptions to the "rules" which occur when all vocabulary is taught by using phonics. Once this core of basic sight words has been committed to memory, children usually go on to master phonics rules and generalizations more easily and efficiently, as well as reading more fluently and with greater comprehension. If you need a list of the 220 Dolch sight words to download for free,