I am so, so fortunate that this book was on the shelf the first time I went to the public library to research literacy education. Rudolf Flesch's observations on the dangers of whole word / look-say / sight word intensive instruction are every bit as valid today as when he wrote the book in 1955. While this book is pretty old and his focus is very one-sided, he introduces a lot of very valid points.
Excerpts from the book:
"The truth is, of course, that any normal six-year-old child loves to learn letters and sounds. He is fascinated by them. They are the greatest thing he's come up against in his life. He loves making noises; he loves taking things apart and seeing what they are made of. So here is a wonderful new game where you take words apart to learn what they are made of. And you learn how to make signs on paper that stand for certain sounds and noises. The child thinks this is the greatest invention ever made . . . A normal child is ready and eager to learn to read because it's mankind's most fascinating game." (p. 74)
"Phonics is simply the knowledge of the way spoken English is put on paper. Among other things, this means that there is an end to phonics. Phonics is something a child can master completely, once and for all, with the assurance that he has covered everything there is."