________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006


The Spelling Teacher’s Book of Lists: Words to Illustrate Spelling Patterns...And Tips for Teaching Them. 2nd. ed.

Jo Phenix.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Press, 2005.
128 pp. pbk., $21.95.
ISBN 1-55138-167-2.

Subject Heading:
English language - Orthography and spelling - Study and teaching (Elementary).


Review by Tanya Boudreau.

**** /4


Vowels combined with r represent different kinds of sounds. Whether the r is heard clearly is often a matter of dialect. In New England, Australia, and parts of England, the words bar and baa are pronounced exactly alike.

One way to begin building a rhyming pattern is with a starter word. Choose your starter word when a word with an interesting sound pattern comes up in the course of regular classroom activities- perhaps as part of a science lesson, after reading a story, or during a writing conference.

How can you make fewer spelling mistakes? No, it’s not by memorizing lots of words. Who has the time for that! Instead, learn the patterns in words and learn new problem solving skills when encountering words you’re unfamiliar with.


Jo Phenix has written a phenomenal update to The Spelling Teacher’s Book of Lists. This book is for teachers to help children improve their spelling by making better spelling choices. Adults and adults learning English as a second language could benefit from this book as well.

     The author has compiled a book of spelling lists (based on her experience in the classroom and studies with children) on the common mistakes children make when spelling. Students are encouraged to take these spelling lists and build on them, sort them, and revise them, to make them their own. The result being, it will be easier to recognize patterns when they see them again.

     Words are interesting! Inside this book, you will see how words can be picked apart and built. There are sections on prefixes and suffixes. You can learn about the roots of words and where certain words originated. There are side notes on most of the pages; side notes that explain or expand on something in the main text. For example……..when the mn are in the middle of a word, both the m and the n are heard (columnist, solemnity). This is one way of locating silent letters.

     Added to this second edition are photographs (in black and white) of real signs. These signs illustrate spelling errors people have made. For example, one sign reads Do-Nuts; another reads Thruway. Teaching Tips, Spelling Tips, Pronunciation Notes, and Etymological Notes will appeal to all the word-lovers out there!

     A very useful section is entitled Confusable Spellings. It covers plurals, homophones and the dreaded when do you use ible-able, and ance-ence at the end of words.

     The book is well organized. A table of contents, and a How To Use This Book can be found at the beginning of the book. There is an index at the back. The book is full of tidbits in the middle. Near the end of the book, there is even a section on the evolution of language. Overall, helpful information to make us all into better spellers by remembering spelling patterns, helping us built meaningful spelling lists of our own, and recognizing how words are built. No need to memorize all those words now!

Highly Recommended.

Tanya Boudreau is a Youth Services Librarian and Resource Librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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