Mona Voelkel with Students

I’m Mona Voelkel. I’m a reading specialist who has worked in and out of the classroom helping students learn to read and write.

I also write for children (and sometimes adults). In my new picture book, Stanley and the Wild Words, I introduce an approach that helps Stanley—and will help you—understand that spelling makes sense.

I can’t wait for you to read this book!

I also believe in sharing stories of joy and resilience while encouraging others to share their story. 

Stanley and The Wild Words

New Book!

Do you have a child who asks, “Why doesn’t spelling make sense?” A student whose bad spelling cuts short their creative expression?

That was Stanley.

He crumples up his favorite dragon story and throws it into the trash. But a mysterious book hits him on the head and leads him into the Forest of Wild Words. There, Stanley learns that spelling is not all that hard. 

In this playful book, award-winning reading specialist Mona Voelkel shares the approach to spelling that has helped so many students gain confidence. Acclaimed artist Nancy Kincade’s fanciful illustrations bring the Forest of Wild Words and its inhabitants vividly to life.

Once you travel with Stanley on his adventure, spelling will never be the same.

Look Inside the Book!

Artwork by Nancy Kincade


Linnea Ehri, Ph.D.
Linnea Ehri, Ph.D.Distinguished Professor Emerita, Educational Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center
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In Stanley and the Wild Words, Mona Voelkel has embedded morphology in a most engaging story with charming illustrations. Enormous turns out to be a very interesting word. Lots of words could benefit from semantic-spelling analyses of their relatives.
David Crystal
David CrystalLinguist and Author of several books, including Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling
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Stories like this are certainly the way to go. It's the sort of thing kids are likely to remember. The problem, of course, is that there isn't an easy source to find these stories, and show the word families that match the reading level. We need more Stanleys.
Mary Beth Steven
Mary Beth StevenMrs. Steven's Classroom Blog
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The way you talk about the Latin was masterful. Not too much - just enough. The prefixes and suffixes hanging from the tree was a nice touch too. Key to SWI is the word sum and you have highlighted it beautifully in this story. Then you continued on to include this base's bigger family. This book is great.
Kathy Adams
Kathy AdamsFifth-Grade Teacher
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What a fun, whimsical way to introduce a valuable understanding of where words come from. It opens up a conversation about how words are formed, which would help a child understand the meaning of the word in a deeper sense. The illustrations make the whole story and concepts come alive.
Gail Venable
Gail VenableAuthor of Backpocket Words: Sharing the Essence of English Spelling
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Stanley and the Wild Words shows us that what we learn about the spelling system changes us. It's the learning itself that's transformative. This book doesn't offer the usual fare of making kids feel better about being dyslexic or struggling with spelling. Instead, they're given an inkling that they can actually understand spelling.
Rebecca Loveless
Rebecca LovelessStructured Word Inquiry Coach and Co-Author, The High Frequency Word Project
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Stanley and the Wild Words offers a simple introduction to investigating English spelling beyond a word's letters and sounds. It will surely inspire students to follow their own quests and dig deeper into the reasons words are spelled the way they are.
Patti Bottino Bravo, MS, CCC-SLP
Patti Bottino Bravo, MS, CCC-SLPSpeech Language Pathologist Sounds Good Communication
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Stanley and the Wild Words presents a clever and engaging introduction to word inquiry. Following gentle teacher Pete's advice, readers are introduced to asking questions to make their own "aha" discoveries just as Stanley did. A great way to ease our students into word study.

Continue on your own Word Quests!

Stanley learns how to spell by asking four questions about a word: Meaning, Relatives, Structure, and Pronunciation. You, too, can go on a Word Quest! I’ve created Word Quests for five words from my book. That should get you started.