I post about writing often enough, it seems right that I occasionally say something about reading (well, more accurately spelling), wouldn’t you say?

A very old friend of mine (by which I mean she’s been a friend for a long time, not that she’s particularly aged, though knowing me has probably put the appearance of years on her), Rachel, is an experienced teacher, and she and an artist friend have recently put together an item designed to help children learn to spell. It’s called Picture Spell.

I’m not an expert on spelling and/or teaching, but the basic idea behind Picture Spell strikes me as a solid one; it uses pictures to teach children about the way the same sound can be formed by different combinations of letters.

Granted, as a reader of comics, I’m bound to be biased when it comes to items which combine words and pictures, but it seems a pretty sensible way to work on both hemispheres of the brain, and combining images and letters has a long and well-established history when it comes to helping people remember things; as well as the fact that the US Army has long used text and illustrations to teach soldiers how to carry out their duties, there was a little pics’n’words combo called the Bayeux Tapestry.

Anyway, this seems like a good idea, and so if you’ve got children who are about 5 or 6, you might want to think about this as a supplement to their school reading scheme. There are also packs for schools, of course, so if any of you are, or know, teachers, you might want to see if Picture Spell’s suitable for your classroom.

Learning to spell is I think, a very important thing, and anything that makes it easier has to be supported – after all, if you hadn’t learnt about the way words are spelled, the words you’re looking at right now would probably be nothing but meaningless black squiggles on a white background. A scary prospect, I know (though I’m sure some of you might aver I shouldn’t assume that my words have any real meaning, regardless of the reader’s ability to interpret them).