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Henry’s Literacy Development

Henry’s Literacy Development

August 29, 2023

Hello WinkWorld Readers,

If you are a regular reader of WinkWorld, you know that one of the messages I hope to send is that there is no one way to learn to read. For example, Dawn and Bo learned to read in a totally different way from the way I did. I learned through phonics in 1st grade.  They both read before kindergarten, and I have no idea of how they learned…could it have been all of those books we read during their pre-K years?  Another example of someone learning in a totally different way from how I did was Jonathan, who  puzzled me for years.

I Learned to Read Through Phonics and the Jonathan Story


Wyatt, our oldest grandson, is a third example of not learning  to read through phonics; he was a  sight word  reader with a photographic mind. In the third grade, Wyatt’s mom pulled him out of school for several months because his teacher accepted only one way to learn to read, phonics, which certainly was not his way. As I recall, he laid on the coach and read books for several months before his mom (Dawn) took him back to the little local school.  I remember that no one in the school questioned where he had been.

Click here to read about Wyatt.


Now, it is a ranch kid, Henry, whose literacy development fascinates me. I have written  about him previously, which is posted below.  Henry lives on a near-by ranch, 45 minutes away, and he is now 9-years-old.

Henry is the only child I know who learned to read through The Profit?

What is The Profit?

The Profit is a newsprint circular of several pages filled with information on cattle sales, new and used tractor and machinery and/or parts, various forms of cattle and  other animal feed sales,  and long charts of specific cattle sales from sale barns. Since Henry was 2- and 3-years old, he has loved it when the mail truck delivered The Profit to their ranch mail box. Through the years, I have been fascinated as Henry’s little pointer finger tried to follow the words and make meaning.  I remember the day when he proudly figured out what “weigh-up” cattle sold for at the Phillip Livestock sales barn. Many don’t know what a “weigh-up” cow is, but for Henry, it is compelling reading.

Henry is the only kid I know, who learned to read from The Profit.  He continues to read it now, but I note that he is  expanding his genre to include chapter books. Hank, the Cow Dog is his personal favorite.

Of course, Henry is now a “Just-one-more-chapter-please-kid.”

Below is a previous post I did on Henry and “junk reading.”


One size does not fit all.  There is NO one way to learn to read.

There are many ways to learn to read.

Even though I learned to read through phonics, that does not mean it is the only way.

And for the Academics Who Follow WinkWorld

Many think that phonics is the ONLY way to learn to read, but there are many ways.  Professor Emeritus, Stephen D. Krashen reminds us (in personal communication, May 20, 2023)

There are too many rules and many are very complicated with numerous exceptions. Children acquire many and probably most phonics rules by reading.

Krashen, S. and McQuillan, J. 202o. The case for acquired phonics. Language Magazine.


  • Sharon Whitehead- van Loben Sels

    I love these stories about learning to read. It is interesting to think about how one learns to read. Just what moment “turns that light bulb on”?

    • Joan Wink

      Thanks, Sharon. The story you told me about your learning to read is heart-wrenching.

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