Interested in spelling? It’s a while since Maureen Hague and I wrote a book called Spellingworks for Heinemann Australia – so long that it’s gone out of print. Hooray for the publisher (now Pearson), however – and for the artist, Shane Nagle – and for the publishers who have tiny extracts of their books somewhere on a page – they have all given their permission for me to put the book online as a free downloadable pdf. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and was prompted by an enquiry from a teacher. (Thank you, Manjit!)
Where to find it
You can find the complete book as a download at spellingworks.com – along with some useful links and ‘in hindsight’ thoughts: if I was writing it again today, I would stress the importance of phonological awareness and basic phonics in more of a ‘do this first’ way.
Why we wrote it
SpellingWorks was the book we couldn’t find, that looked at the ‘extra’ stuff around spelling: yes, phonic awareness is vital, yes, a knowledge of patterns is wonderful – but you also need to work on your own memory strategies because there are no clues to tell you whether it’s meet or meat. That’s something that can be bewildering to students from a more ‘transparent’ language – just as it can horrify them to realise that a teacher might have to check the spelling of a word. (And now I’m learning Spanish, I understand how lovely it is to be able to spell without thinking – though don’t ask me about the verbs…)
Writing that book was a great experience: a compromise of sorts in the need to write for a young adult rather than a solely adult audience (to make it viable), but very satisfying in the way that Heinemann created something that really matched our vision. We were so lucky with Shane’s artwork, and I still love the look of the book, so many years later. So, hoping it may be of use to someone…