It's the silly season and there's precious little to report. There was a posting on the Reading Reform Foundation from Jim Curran, who flagged up a piece by one of Australia's leading proponents of phonics, Kerry Hempenstall. In his article 'The Whole Language-Phonics Controversy: A Historical Perspective', he outlines, as the title suggests, the history of the 'debate'.
If you've never read anything on the subject before, some of it is very interesting and he quotes from work by some of the major names in the field, my favourite being M.J.Adams's Beginning To Read.
However,there are some untidy errors: he describes writing systems as 'evolving', a notion that would surprise Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, authors of the highly authoritative The World's Writing Systems. In addition, Hempenstall tells us on one page that 'English has 1,120 ways of writing 40 sounds', and on the next, quoting Pollack and Pickartz (1963), that there are 'about 45 phonemes that can be spelled in at least 350 ways'!
Aside from that, he's right: teaching reading and spelling is right at the top of the agenda and there is, since Flesch published Why Johnny can't read in 1955, a degree of public accountability that didn't exist previously.
For all that, if you've got the time and the inclination, you can't beat Diane McGuiness's Early Reading Instruction: What Science Really Tells Us about How to Teach Reading. It's a cracker!