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COMPUTER SOFTWARE HELPS CHILDREN LEARN HOW TO READ

Dear Do-It Man: Can you help us find a suitable reading program through video or such to help our 11-year-old grandson learn to read? We feel you possibly could have an avenue we cannot turn to.

- M.L.G., Price.

Dear M.L.G.: We tried unsuccessfully to phone you to discuss the matter further. For someone to take a stab at answering your question, he needs more details. For instance, does your grandson need help in sounding out words (phonics)? Or does he have trouble comprehending what he reads? Or does he have a learning disability that contributes to his reading problem?

The best thing for you or your grandson's parents to do is consult with his school teacher. Ask specifically why he is having trouble with reading and what you can do at home to supplement the school's reading curriculum.

"Parents need to work with the school to find out what the problem is," said Shawna Stewart, instructional materials specialist with the State Board of Education. "They need to get involved at the local level."

Three shows on PBS try to motivate children to read: "The Magic Library," "Reading Rainbow" and "Long Ago and Far Away."

As far as we know, there are no video tapes that teach phonics. "I haven't run across a video tape on phonics for 16 years," said Stewart.

But there are computer programs that help kids learn to read. "Reader Rabbit I," for children 3-6, teaches letter recognition and simple phonics. "Reader Rabbit II," for children 5-8, teaches phonics and simple reading. "Reader Rabbit III," for children 6-9, teaches reading comprehension and writing skills.

"Reader Rabbit I" retails for $32.95.

There are other computer programs designed to teach reading. Check with your local computer software store.