Irene Fountas

Irene C. Fountas holds the Marie M. Clay Endowed Chair for Early Literacy and Reading Recovery at Lesley University.

With her Ohio State University colleague Gay Su Pinnell, she created one of the best-known curriculum systems in American education, The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum.

Known simply as "Fountas and Pinnell," the curriculum includes a proprietary system of reading levels from kindergarten to high school correlated to school grade levels.

Fountas is known as supporting "balanced literacy," which some have mis-identified with the "three-cuing" method of Ken Goodman and Frank Smith and with de-emphasizing direct instruction in phonics. See Goodman's polemic book Phonics Phacts, so deeply critical of direct instruction in phonics as harmful to children.

In her pre-kindergarten handbook Literacy Beginnings, she writes...

We do not advocate using drills, difficult examples, or nonsense words to help children learn to read and segment or manipulate the sounds...Too much specific attention to sounds - as if it is a task to be done "correctly" - not only confuses children but also shuts them down to the delight and enjoyment of learning about language.
Literacy Beginnings, p.90

In the Fountas and Pinnell book Phonics Lessons, Grades K, 1, and 2 and word Study Lessons 3 Fountas provides some examples of short, very focused phonics lessons that are appropriate to use with four-year olds in a prekindergarten class.