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When Whole Word modulated into Whole Language (both being variations on look-say as a matter of fact), there was a great rush to add bells and whistles, lipstick and accessories.
One of these bells and whistles was called literacy-rich environment. And the theory was that if you surrounded children with thousands of books, they would learn to read more quickly.
This simply is not true. We could all sit in a library in China for a year, staring at all the wonderful books in Chinese, and we would never learn to read Chinese unless somebody teaches us.
Whole Language was basically based on the lazy theory that if you did enough voodoo, you wouldn’t have to work at teaching children to read. They would get it by osmosis.
On the other hand, according to this article, there is a legitimate meaning for the phrase “literacy-rich environment,” namely, that parents and teachers should aggressively use stories, jokes, songs, comedy routines, poetry, slogans, plays, bits of movies, anything that would tend to make a child appreciate the linguistic or literary aspects of life.
The theory is that whatever phonics program you're using, the whole process will proceed more quickly if you sensitize children to all things literary and phonetic.
Who doesn't love "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?"
Literacy-rich environment -– the wrong way and the right way