How to Teach Your Child to Read: Resources

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{Updated and Expanded}

How to Teach Your Child to Read

Well, friends, I’m rather sad to say that 22 years into parenting, I do believe that my years of teaching my children to read have come to an end. As sad as that is, the good news is, I have a whole lot of experiences and have developed some tried and true methods (after all, not only can all of my children read, but they all love to read).

So here are my best resources to teach your child to read gleaned over 17 years of homeschooling, my own children.

A list of amazing resources to teach your child to read.

Teaching a Child to Read: Are they ready?

The most important part of teaching a child to read is making sure they are ready and by “ready” I don’t mean a certain age. I have had kids solidly reading at four (Judah and Hezekiah) and others who didn’t read until eight (Enoch, who went from reading three letter words to Jurassic Park in less than a year). Most fell somewhere in the middle.

How do you know if your child is ready to learn to read? Ask yourself this. Are they interested? Are they asking to learn? Do they love books? Teaching kids to read is an art, not a science. If your child is interested, sit down and go through a few lessons in Teach Your Child to Read. If it’s a struggle, and they aren’t having fun, wait a few days, or weeks, or even months, then try again.

Resources to help teach your child to read

Teaching Apollo to Read

I have recently started teaching Apollo to read. He is rapidly working his way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I have successfully used this book to teach nine kids to read so far. He is sounding out a few words on his own now…It always seems like something of a miracle when a child learns to read.

And yet another advantage of being raised with older siblings…Apollo can count to 100 with minimal help. I distinctly remember trying to get Adalia and Judah over the hurdle of counting from 11-20 independently and then trying to help them “see” the pattern in the 20’s and up. It took a while and it took work. Apollo? Just a few reminders and lots of counting in the van to keep him from crying (it distracts him somehow). So much of this academic stuff seems so much easier with Apollo…

{It want to update this, in 2018, to say, Apollo couldn’t actually read independently until the end of first grade, and now in second grade is reading chapter books. His progress was much slower than I anticipated given how rapidly he went through the first to lessons. The truth is, his brain just wasn’t ready at age five, and that is just fine with me.}

Bob Books can be a great supplement when teaching your child to read.

Books to Teach Your Child to Read

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

I am obviously a huge fan of this book! It worked fabulously for my kids. I want to add a note here, however. I never had my kids to the writing that when along with this. We worked through the “say it fast”, “say it slow”, and sounding out the letters and words. That’s it. We would do one lesson or ten lessons, depending on the child’s interest and ability. There was no pressure. Hezekiah was reading independently (at age four years, one month) after his very first lesson. Some of my other kids took six months.

The Reading Lesson Book

This is similar to Teach Your Child to Read but is a bit simplified. It has bigger letters and more pictures. I prefer Teach Your Child to Read, but when Avi was struggling I picked up this book and used it instead.

Montessori Moveable alphabet and LeapFrog.

Montessori Activities to Teach Your Child to Read

We used both Sandpaper Letters and Movable Alphabet during our children’s preschool years. Here is a great video with ideas on how to use the Moveable Alphabet with your child. While I love the ideas, I would not use the alphabet she is using. The colors and patterns can be distracting and overstimulating to some children.

Here is a cool video of a two-year-old using sandpaper letters. Fun activities like this are training the brain and setting her up to be a solid reader.

Computer Resources to Teach Your Child to Read

Reading buddy is a computer-based program to help reluctant readers.

Reading Buddy has a large selection of engaging books for the children to choose from.

Reading Buddy

I wrote a full review of Reading Buddy here. I used this program with Avi and she loved it. The program is great for kids who struggle with anxiety. The kids are reading real books but for some, reading to a computer rather than human takes some of the pressure off. This was the case for Avi and she used the program for several months. Now, at age 12, she loves to read as much as my other kids.

Online Resources to Teach Your Child to Read

Starfall has great games and activities. My kids used this at school in first and second grade. It is a great resource if you let your kids on the computer and is free!

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is a web-based literacy learning program for  4 to 11-year-olds. The online program is built on the 5 essential elements of reading instruction: Phonemic awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. We use over 500 highly interactive games and fun animations to deliver these elements of reading.

ABC Mouse

ABC Mouse is hugely popular. This is a paid site but you can try it out for 30 days for free and see if it is a good fit for you and your children. It is geared for children ages 2-8 and has over 9,000 activities!

Videos to Teach Your Child to Read

LeapFrog, of course, is one of my favorite resources. They have books, games, videos, and apps. The list is endless and I have written about them numerous times. Mordecai rapidly learned the alphabet and letter sounds by watching the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD. If you let your kids watch videos, I would highly suggest investing the $8 in this.

Timberdoodle for the Best Learning Resources

Timberdoodle is hands down my favorite resource for homeschooling and educational products. They are a small, family-run business. We have been loyal customers since Adalia was 3 years old (that’s 19 years now)! I swear we have half their catalog in our house. I love their Mathematical Reasoning books and hope to get one for Apollo soon. Timberdoodle is where I purchased the cool circuit kits I wrote about here. I really need to write a post just one my Timberdoodle-Love!

Now let’s share with each other…What are your favorite educational resources?

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30 Responses

  1. CANDY SMITH

    My favorite reading resource is, hands down, Reading Reflex-the Phono-graphix method. I’ve used it successfully with 8 children. Very simple, straightforward and intuitive. All of my kids were reading fairly well within weeks.

  2. My last child is making me gray as we get this reading thing. We have tried all kinds of things and I have decided to take her where she is at. Very hard at times when she sees her best friend reads so much better than her. I know it will click one of these days and she is reading so much better than last year.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I didn’t end up teaching Avi. Tucker was reading chapter books by the time they started first grade, but she just wasn’t ready.

  3. I love Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons! I used that for my first son, and he learned to read when he was 5. I used it for my second son, and he learned to read when he was 4. I’m using it for my third son, and he is now 7. And I’ve begun some lessons with my fourth son, and I anticipate that he will be reading confidently when he is 6. 🙂 I so appreciate the flexibility of homeschooling, so that I don’t have to freak out when one of my children is “delayed” in reading…and so that child isn’t given a label that could potentially follow him through all the years of his schooling. 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      My readers have ranged in age from 4-8. I, too, and glad we have had that flexibility.

  4. We love Timberdoodle. I started using a modified version of their preschool kit when my son was 3 (based on recommendations I read here!). My son loves most everything we get. He is 4 and 1/2 and we have finished Mathematical Reasoning 1 and are over 1/2 way through the 2nd one! I love how easy they make learning math. We tried Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but we only got about 1/2 way through. He started begging not to have to do it and although it was working I have backed way off and we are trying some other options. I picked up Usborne’s Start to Read Pack and he is working his way through those books now. He likes that much more than the 100 Lessons books. I think I will try Phonics Pathways with him in 6 months or so.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Sarah, we never followed the “lessons” in Teach Your Child, nor did we do the writing. We simply learned the sounds and worked on the reading. Having said that, I too have backed off when a child no longer enjoyed it or it was becoming a burden. Great job!

  5. Crystal in Lynden

    My 3rd son has despised so many of the reading programs I’ve tried. I think he hated Hooked on Phonics the most when he was 6 (now 9). I have had a good response to the short lessons in Explode the Code which I’ve used for 4 years now. I’ve paired it with a below grade level of 6 Traits of Reading this year (so he could read the paragraphs.) And a good teacher friend of mine told us about Words Their Way which is used in the Lynden schools. The company came out with a homeschool pack and I’ve had really good results with that as well. It’s been a long tough road.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Oh, I’ve never heard of Words Their Way, but have heard great things about Explode the Code.

  6. I love the “We both read” books. They have an easy passage on one page for the beginning reader and a harder passage on the other page for the parent or older sibling to read. My kids always got bored with beginning readers before they were ready to move on. These books helped keep their interest.

  7. This is very low tech–but my oldest learned to read with, believe it or not, Dick and Jane. We had the most basic of those readers–the one with “Oh, see Dick!” Full-color illustrations and about three words per page. One day when he was about four he picked it up–I said, “Try it if you like,” and he just barreled through–read it all. Nearly stopped him; looked as though his little head would explode and he nearly fell asleep after but he Had Just Learned To Read. He’d learned letters with the Calvert program–our favorite was connecting pictures starting with the same letter on a page in order to get one big letter. But good ole Dick and Jane–who’d a thunk it. My mother two seem to have learned with Dr. Seuss

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I learned to read with those too! We had some when Adalia, Judah and Tilly were in the learning to read stage.

  8. We use a montessori curriculum. So that starts with sound objects, which she knows now. We will begin using the moveable alphabet next year. We’ve been using confessionsof a homeschoolers letter of the week program lately. Which actually has engaged more gross motor and math at the moment. She is not showing an active desire to read herself, but the book you mentioned looks interesting.

    Taking that challenge would feel like cheating lol. We read so much during the day. I think just books are my favorite resource :). But I may have an amazon.com addiction to kids books.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I have used the Montessori method with all of my kids and taught letter sounds before names. I think it makes so much more sense! We read a TON as well. 20 minutes would be a joke over here 🙂

  9. Great resources. I’ve heard other people talk about that book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It’s wonderful to hear your thoughts on it.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I am hoping to do a thorough review as I teach Apollo to read.

  10. jacquelinemasek

    Apollo reminds me of my youngest child. By the time he was 5 he had worked his way through the kindergarten and half of the 1st grade state standards. After all, he was listening to me tutor his older brother! He taught himself how to read using Starfall and playing with Leapfrog toys, too. At the age of 14 he’s becoming a pretty accomplished IT geek. Isn’t it amazing what kids learn at their own pace surrounded by learning in their own home?

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      That is so cool! Apollo hasn’t done Starfall (though Avi and Tucker have at school). Apollo does have a LeapPad and tons of apps on our iPad.

  11. Thank you, very good information. I am a new homeschooling Mom this year. My current schoolings are 12th, 9th, 7th & 3rd grade, but I have two that will be starting school in a few years. Teaching them to read is one of the areas where I feel a bit timid.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Most of my kids have learned to read with very little trouble. I hope this list of resources helps you.

  12. We started using Reading Eggs last year. It reminds me a lot of Starfall, but I lime their organization of materials better. I can tell my kids to do their lesson, or part of it, then give them the reward of ‘playing’. My oldest has trouble with reading. Halfway through kindergarten he was ready to give up. Over the summer I let him ‘play’ on reading eggs as much as he wanted. He had caught up on his own. My younger son is reading, thanks to Reading Eggs and hearing us work with his brother. We also play the “guess the letter this word starts/ends with” game often
    Or the “Find all the ___ letters in the bulletin and circle them” game. I have tried some others to involve their sense of movement and touch, transferring worksheet work or games to concrete with chalk. They love these games, not realizing they are learning. We are just beginning our journey, though, so I very much reading all the replies.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I have heard great things about Reading Eggs…in fact, they approached me about a sponsored post, but I didn’t have time to give it a proper review. I am glad to hear so many things about it.

  13. I’ve never heard of Timberdoodle! We’ve used the free trial of Reading Eggs online. But my favorite has been Phonics Pathways. It helped me teach my daughter to read when she was 3 and now I’m using it with my 4 year old, though it’s taking a little more work with him.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Then you NEED to head over to Timberdoodle. You’re in for a treat. I have never been disappointed by a product from them.

  14. Reading
    Reading Eggs
    Bug Club
    And lots of home made stuff because I teach deaf kids and phonics based things not helpful!

    Maths – 3 awesome sites with great games that really develop the ideas, not rote learning:
    http://nzmaths.co.nz/teaching-material For great maths stuff. Also http://nrich.maths.org/frontpage
    http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/countmein/children.html

  15. My daughter will be three soon and we are planning to home-school, so I’m beginning to look into our options. Thanks for sharing these! I was home-schooled my entire life until college, and we used to love Timberdoodle and other home-school friendly companies 🙂

  16. My husband taught my oldest daughter to read by using: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. He said it was fabulous and I will be using it with my youngest daughter.

    I appreciate you sharing these other resources too Renee!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

  17. I use the letter factory from Leap Frog to teach my three year-old her letters. It’s working like a charm!

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