A little-known aspect of Leonard Bloomfield’s linguistics
The story of Let’s Read (1961)
Leonard Bloomfield’s (1887–1949) contribution to the literature and theory of teaching reading is not widely known. This paper recounts the history of that contribution, published as Let’s Read: A linguistic approach in 1961, well after his death. Clarence L. Barnhart (1900–1993), the lexicographer, had encouraged Bloomfield to write a complete, finished manuscript of his phonemic approach to teaching reading and expended considerable time searching for a publisher. Bloomfield and Barnhart also sought classroom experimentation of Bloomfield’s materials before publication, which by and large verified his ideas, as did later experiments. Critical reception of Let’s Read, which rejected familiar reading pedagogy, was not warmly welcoming, especially among reading professionals, while linguists like the Romanist Yakov Malkiel (1914–1998) and the structuralist Henry Lee Smith (1913–1972) offered more positive assessments.
Published online: 03 September 2013
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