Choose diverse books. All children need to see themselves reflected in the picture books around them. If your child is a member of a racial or ethnic minority, seek out books that feature children who look similar to yours — they are getting much easier to find. White children also benefit from books that show children with different skin tones and ethnicities. All children need to encounter books that present the variety of cultural traditions and family structures that coexist in our communities. Exposing children to diversity in books will prepare them for life in a diverse world.
Great list, and wonderful summary. I particularly love the emphasis on making it fun and creative and incorporated into different aspects of life. I used a very similar list when documenting my experiences teaching my kids to read at howitaughtmykidstoread.wordpress.com. I’ll definitely be using your post in a future post of my own, and hope you will take a look at my site and let me know what you think. Thanks!
Forever friends, complex plot. Remember Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins, Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, Fern, Charlotte and Stuart Little? Chapter books are where your child meets characters who will be important friends — they will play big, ongoing roles in a reader’s life as he or she grows into a more independent, self-sufficient person. In these books, children also begin to follow longer, twistier stories, to enter into enchanting and breathtaking literary fantasy worlds with their own rules and logic, and to discover stories that will help them work through the many changes they are experiencing in their world and in themselves.
Hi. As you will see once reading my post, I’m feeling awfully desperate & unable to sleep over issues my kindergartner is having in school. He’s an “older” kindergartner (6.5 y.o.). I have done all the things in your list. He loves me to read to him, and I do often up to an hour 1 day (books of HIS choice). Once he joined kindergarten, I started hearing that the work is too hard, that he hates reading, he can’t read, won’t be able to for a long time, he’s a terrible reader, etc. Early on…probably 3 weeks into the year, they had a 20 sight words screening/test & then placed all the students in reading groups. He seemed upset by the requirements. We were told for homework, to have him scan his finger across the sentences of these black & white scholastic books…example, “I like pizza, I like corn, I like apples, What do you like?” He would get so upset and clearly extremely frustrated by being asked to do this process. The teacher was willing to remove him from the reading groups which seemed to reduce his anxiety some. The class, together, recites out loud the 20+/month sight words they are expected to learn via smartboard. He knows none of them. From my vantage point, this seems to be difficult for him. The teacher says he’s doing “great”. He still occasionally says negative things about his reading ability / confidence. This concerns me greatly & shared this w/ teacher. When the other kids rotate b/w free play time & their reading groups, he’s allowed to do free play but he spends alot of that time @ the computer car games (school considers apart of the free play curriculum). It’s now January & now they will begin journal writing & small sentence writing. I’m certain this will be something he finds frustrating. On one hand, I’m trying to determine whether it’s healthy for him to continue being in this environment or not. Have you ever seen kids move from 1 environment to another mid-year & do well? I’m considering just pulling him out to homeschool w/ more tactile, multisensory methods of learning for the remainder of the year but just not sure what is best. There is more pencil/paper/worksheets as compared tactile, multi-sensory methods of instruction and that is not how he learns best. He often says the paperwork is “too hard”. Last week he said he was scared to go bc of this. I’m very concerned about his confidence; wondering what the environmental impact is of him not being there is )ex:(a number of them are reading accelerated readers). The teacher feels he does not notice this but I don’t get this sense about how he sees himself. He’s very intuitive. I’m not sure what to do but just want to do what is best for my child. For many months now, since October, I have been observing other schools classrooms, visiting them. Most expect these kids to read by spring. And most seem to be. Mine does not though I have done all the things you have posted. Given all that I have said, do you have any recommendations? I believe in respecting where kids are developmentally & it seems to me he simply is not in a place to perform at this level though the teacher seems to think he is doing great.
Ask questions about the stories. Similar to when you were reading stories to your child, every time your child reads ask them questions about what they’ve just read. At first it will be difficult for them to think critically about meanings of words and the buildup of character development and plot (or the semblance of those things in the most basic of stories), but over time they will develop the necessary skills to answer questions.
Studies show that children with weak phonological awareness become weak readers. Parents can almost guarantee their youngsters will become proficient readers by starting early with phonological awareness. They should forget flashcards, workbooks, and pricey kits such as “Hooked on Phonics” and just keep it fun, light, and simple. Phonological awareness is about being silly with words, making it a game, and celebrating the magic of language. There's no need for parents to sit their children down and give formal lessons. Instead, parents should teach it throughout the day in a fun and organic way by remembering the mantra: When you're out and about, sound it out:
Most children learn to read by 6 or 7 years of age. Some children learn at 4 or 5 years of age. Even if a child has a head start, she may not stay ahead once school starts. The other students most likely will catch up during the second or third grade. Pushing your child to read before she is ready can get in the way of your child's interest in learning. Children who really enjoy learning are more likely to do well in school. This love of learning cannot be forced.
One great way to introduce kids to literacy is to take their dictation. Have them recount an experience or make up a story. We’re not talking “Moby Dick” here. A typical first story may be something like, “I like fish. I like my sister. I like grandpa.” Write it as it is being told, and then read it aloud. Point at the words when you read them, or point at them when your child is trying to read the story. Over time, with lots of rereading, don’t be surprised if your child starts to recognize words such as “I” or “like.” (As children learn some of the words, you can write them on cards and keep them in a “word bank” for your child, using them to review later.)
The Reading Head Start Program is offering their new customers a trial period, where they can get full access to their program for three days for just $1.00. Customers who love this program should do nothing, and at the end of three days they will automatically be charged $37.00 for continued use of this program. This $37.00 charge will continue each and every month until they day you cancel.     
Format doesn’t matter. Many chapter books with a highly visual, comics-influenced format (“Captain Underpants,” for example) were written specifically to help “reluctant readers” and children with challenges like dyslexia. The stories and characters can be rich and well developed, and children still learn reading skills with these more visually driven books. Graphic novels for young readers, meanwhile, have been steadily improving in literary quality, often winning prestigious awards and appearing on best-of-the-year book lists.
I am fully confident she will learn to read when she learns to read, but as a parent, I sometimes wonder if I should be trying to speed up the process. I’ve followed the advice of friends and purchased BOB Books for beginning readers, and I often prompt her to sound words out. I can tell that she almost gets it, but I can also tell that I’m not much help. So when Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the author of Raising Kids Who Read, told me that parents don’t need to worry about teaching young kids the mechanics of reading—and in fact, he warns against doing so—I felt free.

On one point I disagree with you, and that is your implication that once a child can read on hir own, then henceforth it is clear sailing on the sea of learning all that the public and school libraries hold in their collections. Actually, learning how to read in the beginner sense is just a step on the way to learning how to read in the scholar sense. One guide for that is HOW TO READ A BOOK by Mortimer Adler. Doubtless you can find it at your public library, and Google finds free pdf copies online as well as bound copies for sale in both the original and revised editions and articles about the book, plus an online video of a TV series Adler did on the book long ago.
The lessons are all basically the same, but as the child progresses, they start to teach newer techniques such as "READING THE FAST WAY". Admittedly, we stumbled at first. It's a tricky thing to teach a young child to sound it out IN THEIR HEADS, and when the know the word, just say it fast. It took one or two days of frustration before he caught on....and now it's no problem! If you think about it, that's reading. We say the words in our head. This book just adds the step of having them say it out loud, too!
First of all, I would recommend concentrating on making reading fun and enjoyable for both of you. He has plenty of time to get the mechanics, but will be turned off to reading altogether if reading becomes something he is forced to do and doesn’t have any confidence. Spend more time reading with him than having him read to you…model proper inflection and fluency. Read engaging stories together. I would also start to work on sight words and word families. Don’t stress. He will get it! :)
In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, along with the U.S. Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence. The National Reading Panel developed recommendations based on the findings in reading research on the best way to teach children to read. They found that specific instruction in the major parts of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) was the best approach to teaching most children to read. They also noted that instruction should be systematic (well planned and consistent) and explicit. Although the National Reading Panel is more than a decade old, the findings on reading instruction are still relevant today.
Once you invest in this program, you and your children will gain instant access to the Reading Head Start online platform. This means that you can access the material via a computer, tablet, or even your smartphone. This flexibility makes reading more accessible and more fun! Whether you’re at grandma’s house or a friend’s, your child can complete their lesson.
My daughter just finished lesson 25, and the transformation is amazing. She's gone from mixing up letters to reading simple sentences such as, "The cat is in the sack. The sack is near the man." On top of that, because she has experienced success herself, she is proud of herself and far more willing to engage in the activities! I won't lie; at first it was like pulling teeth, and mommy needed a big glass of mommy juice after a lesson. But she now picks the book up on her own in the morning and practices all by herself.
Table 1 includes the prerequisites, activities, resources, and evaluation for each credit-hour option of this module on dialogic reading. Use the table to select the links and follow the instructions for completing the option(s) you select. You must do the options in order, beginning with Option A, but you can stop at any time and are not required to complete the remaining options.
Every child learns at his or her own pace, so always remember the single most important thing you can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you'll instil an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.

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Sarah Shephard, an English teacher of 14 years, began to develop the Reading Head Start system after her own first-grade son was failing to meet average expectations in English. After realizing that the current English curriculum in schools is outdated and ineffective, Shephard set out to develop a new system that taught children to read using the principle of listening to sounds rather than seeing individual words. With the success her first-grade son and two-year-old daughter found with her new system, Shephard was determined to share it with others to help their children find the same success with reading.
The category of Young Adult, or Y.A., books is a relatively recent invention, meant to specify books written both about and (primarily) for teenagers. These books range from the lyrical and literary to the racy and commercial, but they are all concerned with coming-of-age themes like navigating conflicts with authority or a first serious romantic relationship. These days, dark subjects like suicide and abuse are common.
The federal program Even Start is also a wonderful availability to families where children receive early childhood education while their parents participate in parenting, adult education (GED), parent and child interactive time, and PAT. Even Start is usually much more readily accessible to families than Head Start. Program information is available at famlit.org. I would encourage you to provide information on your website for Even Start as well.
Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.

Teach sight words. Sight words are any short, common words that a child will see often. Some examples of common sight words include plant, father, their and here. Many of these words are difficult to sound out. The best way for a child to learn these words is through repeatedly seeing the word in the context of a sentence and alongside the object it represents.[7]
Nancy Bailey was a teacher in the area of special education for many years, and has a PhD in educational leadership from Florida State University. She has authored two books, Misguided Education Reform: Debating the Impact on Students (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) and Losing America’s Schools: The Fight to Reclaim Public Education (Rowman & Littlefield,...
Award-winning and certified, Reading Head Start will eliminate the need for expensive tutors or developmental delays. And that in itself is worth the investment. Your child can become a leader in their classroom — and you can teach them how. Become more hands-on with your child’s willingness to learn, utilizing the guidance of Reading Head Start. The results will shock you.

Nobody is better equipped to teach a child how to read than her own mom and dad. That's because reading involves more than sounding out words on a page. At its most powerful, reading is an emotional undertaking as well as an intellectual one—an interlacing of the written text with one's own life experiences. If a youngster is lucky, she gets to experience it as a warm, loving time when she sits on Mom's lap and turns the pages, walks to the library with Dad for afternoon story time, and cuddles in bed with her parents on Saturday morning as they read her favorite stories.
Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child's life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk.
Once you invest in this program, you and your children will gain instant access to the Reading Head Start online platform. This means that you can access the material via a computer, tablet, or even your smartphone. This flexibility makes reading more accessible and more fun! Whether you’re at grandma’s house or a friend’s, your child can complete their lesson.
I bought the product back in September right before two of my children went to school. Everyday they came from school they wanted to hop on the computer to learn more because it felt like a game to them. At the same time it helped them learn to read and write. I got their report card and met with their teachers, they we're both above average in their class.

According to Shane Michaels, “The entire premise of Reading Head Start really just makes sense—like how babies learn to speak by listening, Sarah Shephard uses the same principles of teaching kids how to read by having them listen to the sounds the individual letters make, rather than them just memorizing the association between words and certain images, the method most kids learn to read by in school. But perhaps what is most impressive about this system is that it is designed in a way to get parents involved with their child’s learning process in reading, so their child gets much more of a benefit than simply learning how to read words. They get a complete learning experience that is positive, encouraging, and gratifying.”
What’s my place in this big, crazy world? Children of this age are interested both in defining their own identities and in investigating questions about the larger world. A good middle-grade book can be surprisingly philosophical, taking on notions like fairness, justice, freedom and compassion. Some of the best are historical fiction set in challenging time periods like the Civil War, the Holocaust or the Civil Rights Era. They often deftly address, in an age-appropriate way, real-world problems your child is just becoming aware of: ideas like racism, refugees, the foster care system and mental illness. Tip: Whatever personal challenge your child is navigating — bullying, the end of a friendship, social anxiety, a cross-country move, or death or illness in the family — there is a good middle-grade novel that can help him or her get through it. Ask a librarian or experienced bookseller for a recommendation.
My son, Tristan, is 4 1/2 and just started to read. I wasn’t trying to teach him to read at all. I’ve been reading to him forever (I was an English major, I love books). He’s known his ABCs since he was at least 2. The only other thing that we did was let him listen to books on CD/tape/MP3. We tried to have the books so he could follow along, but he didn’t always. Usborne books has a great selection of books with CDs – Ted & Friends and Farmyard Tales are his favorite. That helped him identify the words himself (I think). :)
Thanks for these tips. Your suggestions really put things in perspective for me. My 5 year old daughter’s friends seem to be so much better than her at decoding and sounding words out. I realize now that my first mistake was comparing her to other children and, in a panic that she was “behind,” I kept trying to make her sound words out and now I fear I’ve intimidated her when it comes to sounding words out. :(
They use animals to create a “safe space” for children to work out problems. The ranks of great picture books have always been heavy with animal protagonists, as in “Little Bear,” “Frog and Toad” and “Pete the Cat.” It’s not just that children love animals — the critters in their books help them reflect on problems from a safe emotional distance. Animals are also often gender neutral and appeal to both sexes.
Hi, I have a friend who lets her 6-month old son watch “baby can read” videos every day. She did the same with her older child, who, at 1 year old, is able to “read” words. Her daughter can decode common words such as house, but when the letters are jumbled so as to form another word, she couldn’t read it any more. I now have a one year old daughter. She’s recommending that I expose my baby to it too. What is your opinion on this? on the exposure of children to screen media?
Thank you so much for your article. I was one of those parents who wanted their child to be reading by age 2 and other unrealistic expectations like that. I bought certain programs promising my baby would be able to read, and she didn’t! I do not push her anymore and just spend a lot of time reading with her. Thank you for your article and I will definitely use some of your suggestions just to keep up with her love of reading.
Robyn – At four, I would say that the important thing is not to specifically get her to colour or write, but to have general fine motor skills. Do open-ended crafty and arty things which are about having fun and experimenting, not producing a specific outcome like a coloured-in drawing or something that looks like a word. Look at pictures of different styles of art and talk about them with her, encouraging her to observe the detail, and have feelings and impressions about what she likes and doesn’t like. Encourage any fine motor activities that she likes, and don’t stress if writing or colouring is occasional. Writing probably feels very laborious to her if her other language skills are so good. Have you tried offering to help her write a story and just get her to help you with the occasional letter or word, so she feels like she is getting a story out that has the complexity she’s interested in without getting stuck on the work of manually getting down the first few words? I’d perhaps look at incorporating little moments of writing or drawing into daily life, rather than being a task in and of itself. So perhaps you could make labels for things together, or you could play a game of snakes and ladders but introduce a new rule that if she lands on a snake she can go down the snake or draw a snake or write an s (the choice is hers – I’d avoid making it something she has to do as well as going down the snake cause then it will seem like a punishment rather than an opportunity to escape a punishment). Look at ways to make games of it that make it a bit more exciting: eg. (“Let’s see how small we can write your name? Can we get it smaller?” Then take chalk or water and a paintbrush out to the footpath and say, “Now let’s see how BIG we can write your name?”) Decorate soaps, glasses, and t-shirts. Write in the sand at the beach or playground.

The category of Young Adult, or Y.A., books is a relatively recent invention, meant to specify books written both about and (primarily) for teenagers. These books range from the lyrical and literary to the racy and commercial, but they are all concerned with coming-of-age themes like navigating conflicts with authority or a first serious romantic relationship. These days, dark subjects like suicide and abuse are common.


Yes! Parents are such powerful teachers. They can teach things to their children so quickly working one-on-one. Classroom teachers have so many students with a wide-range of abilities and interests and so often must "dumb down" the curriculum to reach everyone. Parents can let their children soar -- choosing books that interest them and challenging them with both fiction and non-fiction. Voted up.
He says that parents can help kids read by taking advantage of situations where reading has some utility. “In our house, for a brief period of time, my youngest just thought it was hilarious fun when we’d ask her to clean her room but would do so by writing down on a slip of paper each task. ‘Put away all your toys.’ She would read the slip of paper, then go off and do it, and then come back for another slip of paper.” (UM, brilliant.)
Great article! It is SO important to keep our kids focused! I started this business 5 years ago and it has been so amazing impacting so many families. My favorite client was a 3 year old boy, Mikey, who had trouble BEGINNING to read. 5 years later, he STILL loves to read! He can’t put the books down! His confidence was the most amazing impact on his family. I gotta say, I love my job!
READ 180 is for struggling readers in grades 3–12. It involves teacher instruction, working on a computer and reading alone. Kids also listen to someone read aloud and then read the same text. The program includes workbooks, books for reading alone, audiobooks and software that tracks student progress. It’s most often used by reading specialists to give extra support.
Create daily opportunities to build your child's reading skills by creating a print‑rich environment at home. Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols. When you're out and about, point out letters on posters, billboards and signs. In time you can model sounding out the letters to make words. Focus on the first letter in words. Ask your child “What sound is that letter?” “What other word starts with that sound?” “What word rhymes with that word?”
I tried this program and was very disappointed. It was advertised as having videos and games but what I got access to was a website with written lessons only, no videos no games. The way the lessons were written also seem geared more toward a classroom/ group setting. If I had fallowed the program as I received it I think it would have helped but I wasn’t going to spend $297 for it. I thought what I received may have been a mistake or I was missing something so I tried to message the company through there website but was unable to do so as I would always get an error message when I hit send. So I contacted click bank (the company you pay through) and they are going to refund me the money.
It's often a good idea to talk about a story you are reading, but you need not feel compelled to talk about every story. Good stories will encourage a love for reading, with or without conversation. And sometimes children need time to think about stories they have read. A day or so later, don't be surprised if your child mentions something from a story you've read together.
​If you’re a parent then you probably already know that it’s absolutely essential to get a head start on kids’ reading at an early age. Not only does early reading success lead to reading success as your child continues to grow, but it serves as an accurate predictor of academic success across the board, at every level and in every subject. In short, it becomes nearly impossible for students to catch up if reading skills are not mastered early.
This is an amazing hub! I have a son whose just about to turn 3 and he's known all his letters since before he was 2 and he now knows all the sounds as well. I have been thinking it was time to try to teach him to read, but I wasn't sure how to get him to sound out words. With your approach he doesn't have to. Now I'll be making flash cards of those 100 words! He already reads books... but I'm almost positive its from memory not from recognizing the words.
Beyond the “reading log” mentality. Many students have to keep “reading logs” from elementary school through middle school, a well-meaning, but somewhat controversial practice that risks turning reading into a chore. If your child must keep one, consider the fine irony in bugging your student to crack a book every night, if you rarely do it yourself. Seeing you choose to read can help with your child’s approach to mandated reading time.
My daughter is three and a half. I have decided to home school her, because that’s what i think is best for her, and because she is already interested in learning. She picked up the alphabet almost instantly,(Alphabet song, if I remember right.) and she has already learned the sounds of every letter. (Except q and x, she knows what they are just has trouble pronouncing them.) She is improving significantly since I started (three days ago)) on sounding out 3-4 letter words. My question would have to be, where do I guide her next? I don’t want to skip something to fast and her not completely master it, or go over something so repeatedly she gets tired of it. Like you said, learning should be made fun whenever possible, which is the approach I try to use. What is your opinion?
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.
(SI Newswire) Reading Head Start, a revolutionary reading system developed by experienced English teacher and mother Sarah Shephard is helping tens of thousands of children across the United States learn to read regardless of age or current reading abilities. Reading Head Start is a simple, proven, and effective method that uses updated methods and strategies and claims to help kids learn to read within a matter of days.
Try the Bob books starting with the blue box 1. it will get her reading. my boys taught themselves to read with the bob books. They learned the letters from leap frog and sight words from learn the sight words DVDs then they just taught themselves to read using bob books. After the blue box we went to the sight words purple box. Then level 2 yellow box then level 3 red box. They cost about $10.00 each. Now they read level 1 books from the library and other series books. They get 1 piece of candy for each book they read so they come to me to read a book. Sometimes they will read 3 or 5 books in a day so they can have a piece of small candy for each.
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