This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, August 27, 1992

August 27, 1992 - 500 words

At the library's recent public program on phonics, "Sounding Off," a woman named Mary Floyd promised to provide the library with a list of the 100 most-used words in the English language. In fact, she gave me a list of something called "the High-Utility 500" -- 500 words that various studies have identified as the most used and presumably, most useful words, especially for students in grades 2-12.

For those of you wondering where such things come from, the initial study was called the American Heritage Word Frequency Study (conducted by Carroll, Davies, and Richman), and its findings were cross-checked in studies by Gates, Horn, Rinsland, Green, and Loomer, as well as Harris and Jacobson. Finally, the results were correlated with a 1985 study by Milton Jacobson of 22,000 students in grades 2-12.

Rather than copying the list and posting it at the library, I thought I'd print it here in the newspaper. I find the list interesting, and perhaps you will, too.

Please note that although the following are words your child must know, simply memorizing a list of words is no substitute for either phonics or other "word attack" skills.

With that caveat ...

The First 100 words (in order of frequency): the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, for, was, on, are, as, with, his, they, at, be, this, from, I, have, or, by, one, had, not, but, what, all, were, when, we, there, can, an, your, which, their, said, if, do, will, each, about, how, up, out, them, then, she, many, some, so, these, would, other, into, has, more, her, two, like, him, see, time, could, no, make, than, first, been, its, who, now, people, my, made, over, did, down, only, way, find, use, may, water, long, little, very, after, words, called, just, where, most, know.

The Second 100 words: get, through, back, much, go, good, new, write, our, me, man, too, any, day, same, right, look, think, also, around, another, came, come, work, three, must, because, does, part, even, place, well, such, here, take, why, help, put, different, away, again, off, went, old, number, great, tell, men, say, small, every, found, still, between, name, should, home, big, give, air, line, set, own, under, read, last, never, us, left, end, along, while, might, next, sound, below, saw, something, thought, both, few, those, always, show, large, often, together, asked, house, don't, world, going, want, school, important, until, form, food, keep, children.

The Third 100 words: feet, land, side, without, boy, once, animals, life, enough, took, four, head, above, kind, began, almost, live, page, got, earth, need, far, hand, high, year, mother, light, country, father, let, night, picture, being, study, second, soon, story, since, white, ever, paper, hard, near, sentence, better, best, across, during, today, however, sure, knew, it's, try, told, young, sun, thing, whole, hear, example, heard, several, change, answer, room, sea, against, top, turned, learn, point, city, play, toward, five, himself, usually, money, seen, didn't, car, morning, I'm, body, upon, family, later, turn, move, face, door, cut, done, group, true, half, red, fish, plants.

The Fourth 100 words: living, black, eat, short, United States, run, book, gave, order, open, ground, cold, really, table, remember, tree, course, front, American, space, inside, ago, sad, early, I'll, learned, brought, close, nothing, though, idea, before, lived, became, add, become, grow, draw, yet, less, wind, behind, cannot, letter, among, able, dog, shown, mean, English, rest, perhaps, certain, six, feel, fire, ready, green, yes, built, special, ran, full, town, complete, oh, person, hot, anything, hold, state, list, stood, hundred, ten, fast, felt, kept, notice, can't, strong, voice, probably, area, horse, matter, stand, box, start, that's, class, piece, surface, river, common, stop, am, talk, whether, fine.

The Fifth 100 words: round, dark, past, ball, girl, road, blue, instead, either, held, already, warm, gone, finally, summer, understand, moon, animal, mind, outside, power, problem, longer, winter, deep, heavy, carefully, follow, beautiful, everyone, leave, everything, game, system, bring, watch, shall, dry, within, floor, ice, ship, themselves, begin, fact, third, quite, carry, distance, although, sat, possible, heart, real, simple, snow, rain, suddenly, leaves, easy, lay, size, wild, weather, miss, pattern, sky, walked, main, someone, center, field, stay, itself, boat, question, wide, least, tiny, hour, happened, foot, care, low, else, gold, build, glass, rock, tall, alone, bottom, walk, check, fall, poor, map, friend, language, job.

You might post this list on your refrigerator, and spot check your children from time to time.

A follow-up to the phonics meeting, by-the-bye, is the formation of a new parents' group called the Core Knowledge Committee. The purpose of this group is to urge the adoption by Douglas County schools of the Core Knowledge Curriculum -- a clearly defined and grade-sequenced body of objective knowledge.

The first meeting of the committee will be at the Philip S. Miller Library, at 7 p.m., Tuesday night, September 1. For more information, call Laurel Iakovakis at 660-9723.

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