I don’t remember much about learning to read. Maybe it is like childbirth, painful, but forgotten because the change that it brings to our lives is so much greater than the pain. The difficulty of learning to read was brought to my attention when my oldest child started expressing interest in learning her ABCs. We began with the basics…the name and then the sound that each letter makes. Blending those sounds together to create words was the next step. This is great when you have a word like CAT…each letter makes its appropriate sound, but then you get words like RAKE and you have to teach another rule…
Most children’s books contain a mix of words, not easy for the very early reader who is still working on words like CAT and DOG. Trying to use your current library of books for your early reader will just result in frustration for the reader and lots of explaining for the teacher (ie…Yes, I know it looks like it should say that, but this time it says….). I have come across a few wonderful sources for early readers, a couple of which are completely free and available online!
A wonderful resource for early reading is Hooked on Phonics. I know, everyone made fun of the commercials for years, but this truly is a great reading system. My favorite part of the program is the library of books that it includes. The first book is easy enough for the most beginning reader to decode (no site words or long vowel sounds, just basic phonics). And each book builds upon the vocabulary of the last until more site words and rules have been introduced. Your child gains the confidence that comes from reading an entire book by themselves much earlier than if you waited until they could read traditional children’s books. This can be an expensive investment, but if you have several children all of whom would make use of the program, I highly recommend finding at least the first level. You can purchase these at Costco, online and I have even seen them sold at Target (I picked up the Learn to read 2 nd Grade set at Target on clearance several years ago).
The internet is also a treasure trove of reading resources. My all-time favorite learn to read site is Starfall.com. Starfall has online reading games and books for many levels from just learning the letters and sounds to 1 st and 2 nd grade level stories and non fiction. They also have printable versions of their Level 1 readers (Each book focuses on a specific vowel sound). These have been a favorite in our house. Both of my older children LOVE Zac the Rat (the first book in the series). My oldest, who is nine and has been reading for years, still enjoys sitting with her younger brother and helping him explore Starfall.
When you want to introduce writing, learningpage.com is a wonderful resource. They require that you register with their site in order to access all of the wonderful printable worksheets, but registration is free. Members can access professional quality worksheets for the Alphabet, Numbers, Money, Time and more. As a bonus, if you receive their monthly newsletter they will provide a link to monthly themed worksheets and dowloadable books. In order to download and print the worksheets you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader as all worksheets and books are in PDF format.
I would love to hear any resources that you may have found useful in teaching your children to read (as I still have 3 to teach and can always use tips from other moms!). Please leave a comment and share what works for you. Teaching your child to read can be much easier when you make use of the great resources available to you, and the rewards for your efforts are great! I still remember the joy I felt the first time my daughter read the word CAT; so simple to you and I but an amazing accomplishment for a child!