PHONICS-TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
by Dolores G. Hiskes
Volume 66 - October 2014
YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW: TINKERING TOWARDS CHAOS?
Today I begin a three-part historical series summarizing all of my
teaching reading from the very beginning, throughout
the years, and where its
current status is.
It is autumn solstice already! Where did summer go? For that matter,
where did the years go? And so perhaps it's time to take a moment and
peek nostalgically backwards at my involvement with teaching reading.
When did it begin? Why did it start?
The first part of *YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW: TINKERING
TOWARDS CHAOS?* will begin with YESTERDAY, featuring a reprint of
an article written by Carol Anne Carroll on October 31, 2005, titled
*Educating Your Children with Classic Grammar Textbooks:*
YESTERDAY (How it all began in 1961)
*The adage *Necessity is the mother of invention* was never truer than it is
in the life of Dolores Hiskes. The unwritten part of that adage, however, is
that the *necessity* often involves a rather challenging experience, while the
*invention* develops slowly, often while the inventor isn’t fully aware of his
or her discovery.
*It was the difficulty experienced by one of Hiskes’ two children (now both in
their mid-50*s) that launched her publishing company’s successful phonics,
reading, and spelling books. When my daughter was in the first grade, she
hadn’t learned anything by Easter. She couldn’t read. She would get headaches
and tummy aches, and didn’t want to go to school,* Hiskes explains. After
repeated attempts to get her daughter back on track had failed, she say s,
*I realized something was wrong.*
*In her research, Hiskes came across a book *Reading With Phonics,* and
decided to have her daughter work with the book. *She became the best
reader in her class,* Hiskes notes.
*As she began to share the secrets to her daughter’s success, other parents
came to Hiskes, asking if she would work with their children. *I would get
the students no one else could teach,: she explains, often when the family
had run out of more traditional options., Hiskes was also traveling extensively
with her husband, who made regular business trips throughout the world.
On these trips, the personal struggle was soon put into a broader, global context.
*I don’t know how to explain our processes, but this has just stayed with me,*
*Taking an interest in the phonics and reading texts of other English-speaking
countries, Hiskes soon discovered that many of the texts she found (and admired)
were fading away. *I saw good texts going out of print and bought them* she says.
*In England, in Ireland, in Australia I kept running into good books going away.
I kept thinking, *Someone should really bring this all together.*
*It didn’t take Hiskes long to realize that that *someone* was her. Today her line
of books is used across the country in schools, tutoring centers, and speech
pathology centers, as well as in many private homes. The books have become
successful as many parents, educators, and others turn to the texts as a way
to help children read, changing struggling students into stellar ones.
*While students, parents, and teachers were taking notice, so too was the
publishing industry. “I swore I would never sell out” Hiskes says. And she hasn’t —
although the book is undergoing a change in publisher. Jossey-Bass, a respected
academic publisher, has recently created a Teaching Division and was looking for
quality texts for its new venture. Hiskes’ *Phonics Pathways* books quickly caught
their eye. While she was uncertain at first, she finally agreed to have Jossey-Bass
publish the series, which they will do beginning in April, 2005. *They convinced
me because they can reach more people. But I have total control over the book’s
contents,* she says, noting the importance of the book;s integrity to her, even
under a new publisher.
*After all, within Dolores Hiskes, publisher, remains the poignant memories of
50 years ago, when she was Dolores Hiskes, frustrated parent. And Jossey-Bass
understood. *I told the publisher, *This is my baby. I’ve nurtured it for 20 years,*
*And the publisher replied, *Don’t worry. You’re not giving your baby away,
you’re sending it to Stanford!*
Carol Anne Carroll
Next: *TODAY,* a summary of high points and a few surprises that happened
along the way. Watch for it!
Stay warm, and as my father always said, *Be careful crossing the street!*
With Many Fond Memories, Dolores
Copyright 2014 Dolores G. Hiskes
May be reprinted in entirety with reference to author
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