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April 8, 2012 / magickittenblogs

Cadbury teaches us to read


Imagine my delight this morning on receiving a lovely Cadbury Buttons Easter egg from my boyfriend – incidentally, the same as received by none other than Gary Barlow and also my un-cousin Laura too (she’s taken hers to Brighton).

Now, imagine if you can, my *additional* joy to find a lovely rebus story on the side of the box.
“A what?!” I hear you say.
A rebus. That’s a piece of writing where some words are replaced by pictures or pictograms, in order to help young children join in with reading aloud. This could be because they can recognise the things pictured but can’t read the words yet, or because the words replaced by the images are complex so a picture is easier to ‘read’.

This made me think of the current debate in education politics about primary literacy. Gove is proposing testing five-year-olds, in order to classify their literacy levels, while also still trumpeting the merits of phonics. However, Michael Rosen (@MichaelRosenYes) has ably demonstrated that phonics only has limited application unless the English language undergoes some kind of radical simplification and streamlining of the type suggested by George Bernard Shaw. He actually thought we could trim a few extraneous alphabet letters without being any worse off. I think Gove would have liked him, unless that counts as dumbing down.

In any case, children have different learning preferences. The rebus is a much underused tool for encouraging young children to find the fun in reading. Time for a rebus renaissance?


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