Predictable books can be bought through the internet and cost a dollar each.  Understand that predictable books have levels.  If your child is just starting out, start with beginning level books.  As kids get better at reading move to more complex books.  Look through the titles with you child and choose themes that appeal to them.  Put the books in a basket with your child's name on it, so that your child can read their book when they want.
You seem very passionate about reading and I think that’s great. However, you seem very defensive about the method. Quite frankly my only goal is to help children learn to read and I have found that starting with sight reading is the easiest and best method. You, of course are entitled to your opinion as is Mrs Freeman. My son is now turning 10 and he is reading and memorizing Shakespeare (having learned to read from – YES – “call words”!). You are welcome to go to my website and see him doing it if you doubt it. And BTW, my son is 100% homeschooled and he too remains above grade level.
I love this! I am a preschool teacher who has been stressing a little! My 4.5 year old son has been challenging me… he is clearly showing signs that he is ready to read and I have no idea where to start! You have no idea how happy I am to have come across your blog about reading… the fact that its not memorize ABC’s, memorize sounds, etc but rather comes from a more natural learning has made me so happy! I have come across so many teachers that are no longer worried about letting children learn through their interests and it has turned into a very formal rote learning which makes me cringe. So YAY!!! Thank you thank you thank you! Tomorrow my son and I have a game planned where he is going to think of a word, which we will sound and and decide what letters are in it… and I will write out words that he will try and sound out to read! We are both very excited!
Sightwords.com is a comprehensive sequence of teaching activities, techniques, and materials for one of the building blocks of early child literacy. This collection of resources is designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers teach a child how to read. We combine the latest literacy research with decades of teaching experience to bring you the best methods of instruction to make teaching easier, more effective, and more fun.
Beatrice wrote, of her daughter who learned to read at age 8: "I too am guilty of trying to ‘make her' read, when she turned 6, worried that the kids at school would be learning this skill and not wanting her to be left behind. After a couple of weeks of insisting she read and keep a journal with me spelling everything and she copying it all out, she told me flatly to ‘leave me alone,' that she would have no part in my scheme and would learn to read when she was ‘good and ready.'"
Set small goals. This is the one time you shouldn’t focus so much on the bigger picture. It can be daunting and discouraging. It also might encourage you to breeze past foundational principles and push them past reasonable expectations. So, forget the “bigger picture” and focus on small victories instead. Remember we should be more concerned with improvement than achievement.

This article is phenomenal!!!! Thank you for emphasizing the importance for creating a love for reading and not a ‘system’ for learning to read. I’m a 1st grade teacher and mother of 2 preschoolers. Even with all my background knowledge on teaching children to be successful readers, I still find myself stressing out when it comes to my own children by comparing them to others (mainly family members around the same age). I’ve always said there’s so much more to reading than just sounds/words on a page. I look forward to reading more on your blog.
Phonological awareness in young children is the foundation for early reading. It involves the ability to hear and manipulate sounds, syllables, and words. It includes skills such as recognizing when words rhyme, clapping the number of syllables in a word, and identifying words with the same beginning sounds such as "cat" and "cow." When children develop phonological awareness, they see the patterns among words and use that knowledge to read.
Once your child starts school, they will be taught not only the basic letter sounds (each one usually with its own rather snigger-worthy accompanying action) but also the more complicated ones, such as “sh” and “ch” and “ai” and “oi”. They'll bring (sometimes crashingly boring) reading books home, along with, at some point, a set of “key words” to learn by heart.
My other children have all learned between ages 5 and a 1/2 and 7. It's never been a painful process. When they get frustrated or tired, I back off. It's not my accomplishment, it's theirs. The emphasis the schools place on early reading can easily discourage kids who aren't ready. By the time they would have naturally picked up the skill, they already hate it. They've come to regard it as a slog and a bore and to regard themselves as stupid/slow. It's a shame we can't just let the kids be.

I'm thrilled to find your blog Peter. I wish I'd found it before submitting the manuscript for my recent book, Free Range Learning. Your articles would have made my research much easier! As I read back through some of your recent posts I see we're on the same page regarding natural, interest-led learning and paying attention to what has benefited humankind over the long run.

I checked through his school books again and found yet again that the school had not progressed his reading book in the 3 months prior (they hadn't changed it at all or made any comments on the messages I had left in the book), so I double checked what age he actually was in reading ability. The school still had him on Year 1 books which he couldn't read. So I stopped trying to 'teach' him to read. 9 months later he read out a leaflet that had been put on the windscreen of the car, with no coaxing from me at all.


Español: enseñar a un niño a leer, Português: Ensinar Seu Filho a Ler, Italiano: Insegnare a Leggere a Tuo Figlio, Deutsch: Deinem Kind das Lesen beibringen, Français: apprendre à lire à votre enfant, Nederlands: Je kind leren lezen, Русский: научить ребенка читать, Čeština: Jak naučit dítě číst, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengajari Anak Anda Membaca, العربية: تعليم طفلك القراءة
In other words, reading Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is an incredibly complex task that requires significant understanding beyond just being able to sound out words. It's based as much on a knowledge of how the world works as it is on how language works. So even though a toddler or a preschooler may not be ready to translate letters into phonemes into words, she is able to start gaining the contextual grounding that will allow her to give those words meaning. "From birth forward, children are becoming readers and writers," says Cox. "Their listening, drawing, early wordplay, pretend reading, storytelling, and scribbling all set the stage for reading excellence and a love of books and writing later on."
Great news Mama Kim! You just have to be patient, it will not happen overnight but it will happen sooner than you think. It takes consistent effort over time. Children are remarkable and learn without you even knowing they are doing it. Just keep at it on a daily basis but always avoid overloading him. Also don’t worry too much about testing what he knows, just keep showing him the words and move on. By 30 days he will be showing you his great reading skills!
Why should it not be done? Unless it is stressing the child out or forcing him I do not see why it “SHOULDN’T” be done. That is a nice analogy but I don’t see how it is a valid one. Just because a child I advanced or allowed to be ahead of the game does not mean they are not being allowed to be a child. Maybe he is gifted maybe not perhaps he is interested in learning. Children love to learn so yes I agree Let him be a child.

Wonderful article!! It's making the rounds on facebook. Lots of folks are supportive of the idea of kids learning to read on their own (though it's not really on their own, there's lots of support, resources and connection involved) when their kids are early readers, but begin to lose faith in the process when the kids are 8, 10, or 13. I've seen it again and again though in unschooling families: kids *will* learn to read when they're ready, whether that means ready at 3 or ready at 11.


The strategy for learning sight words is, "See the word, say the word". Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to learn a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school. You can teach sight words by playing with flashcards and using reading programs like ABC Reading Eggs.
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.

p.s. I hated to read when I was little (I really didn’t enjoy the public school reading curriculums) but now I love reading. My husband loves to read even more than I do and so do the men at our church, young and old. In fact, one of our friends grew up in a home where his father literally had thousands of history books and had read most of them. Now his son is also an avid reader.

At first, I thought she was just reciting the books we owned from memory because she knew them so well. However, I realized that wasn't the case when I started giving her easy reader books to read that she'd never seen before. That's when I realized...my baby can read! She can actually read! And I'm not talking just those beginner reading books that contain sentences like, "Pat sat on her mat" and "See the fox run."I guess all my hard work is paying off. I am raising readers! Of course, she's still very much in the beginning stages of reading, but she's off to a great start!
Start with the letter A, literally and figuratively. I know that seems simple, but a lot of people don’t really get this part as well as they think they do. I simply mean start at the beginning and don’t skip important foundational principles. I am realizing that many people don’t always recognize foundational principles because they are so ingrained in the way adults process information. For example, the difference in the way we say “bit” and “bite.” It really takes around 27 separate pieces of information to be able to correctly distinguish between those words — and we don’t even think about it. I did my best to write out every piece in a logical progression for you guys.
I totally agree that reading to your baby is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. However, I do think that it is an amazing blessing if your child can read before the standard age of 6. If they know how to read, they can get lost in the magical pages of books – developing a love for reading very early on. Did you ever use any DVDs with young children to help them learn to read? I have used several programs with my children – although my favorite is MonkiSee – and have gleaned many wonderful results. Do you support educational DVDs for teaching babies to read? Have you ever used any?

May I ask if you would be willing to review our reading program. It is called The Reading Lesson. I will be happy to send you a copy. It the best there is. I should know. My mom who is the author taught me to read with it many years ago. And now thousands of people use it. In fact it is number 1 best selling reading book in England, and number two in the US.


Read Well is for K–3 students. The program teaches word-sound awareness. It also works on vocabulary and comprehension. Teachers begin by modeling what to do. They then gradually decrease their support until eventually students are asked to do the reading task by themselves. The program includes activities for the whole class as well as small-group lessons. Read Well is often used in the general education classroom.

Hi! I have a 5 and 4 month old daughter who is really interested in learning to read. She won’t start kindergarten until the fall as we are in CA. I love these steps and they help A LOT. I’m wondering if anyone can chime in with how much to put into this now and over the summer before she starts kinder. She seems ready. Would I look into a program like Pathways to Reading? Or just keep it simple and focus on basics? What about ABC mouse? She knows all her letters and most of the sounds (though she sometimes forgets) and seems to enjoy sounding out words together, but maybe only 2 or 3 before she gets bored. I’m in no rush, but she seems ready.

You don't need to stick to the text (such as it is) when you're reading books with your baby (which is just as well or you'd both die of boredom). Feel free to go 'off piste' and warble on about the pictures you're looking at (“Look at that cat! Big, black cat! Just like Granny's cat. Big, furry, cuddly cat.”) At this stage, it's all about the sing-song sound of your voice and the connection between books and pictures and sounds and fun.


By the time your child is four, she will have an extensive vocabulary and be able to speak in sentences of about 5 – 8 words. She will have become a communicative being! If you have begun teaching her to read, she will be able to read independently from simple phonetic readers. She will be accustomed to visiting the library and know where the children's section is located. She may have a small collection of her own favourite books at home. By the time your child joins junior or senior kindergarten, she may have read over a hundred small books. She may also have written, illustrated, and decorated her own little books.
I love this! I am a preschool teacher who has been stressing a little! My 4.5 year old son has been challenging me… he is clearly showing signs that he is ready to read and I have no idea where to start! You have no idea how happy I am to have come across your blog about reading… the fact that its not memorize ABC’s, memorize sounds, etc but rather comes from a more natural learning has made me so happy! I have come across so many teachers that are no longer worried about letting children learn through their interests and it has turned into a very formal rote learning which makes me cringe. So YAY!!! Thank you thank you thank you! Tomorrow my son and I have a game planned where he is going to think of a word, which we will sound and and decide what letters are in it… and I will write out words that he will try and sound out to read! We are both very excited!
Although it has been quite a few years since I used this curriculum, I keep the book for my grandkids. When I wasn’t homeschooling my children, I was using other programs to add to their education. When my son was in “pre-1st”, the public school told me he wasn’t learning to read. I taught my son to read in this book within two months time of working on it daily. It is thorough and complete in my estimation of teaching the sounds of each letter and starting where a child can make sense of their reading right away. It reminds me of how I was taught phonics in the 60s. This truly is a phonics program and works easily and well.
My daughter got her first book from the hospital at birth ;). I love that hospitals are even promoting reading at birth. Can I just say I hate hate hate sight words. My middle daughter is 9 and sight words were the death of her. Now that she is being taught all of the rules and exceptions through the Wilson program she is doing much better. I get that most kids learn to memorize sight words, but not all of them do. And I truly wish so much stock wasn’t put on memorization in reading. Especially since the amount of sight words or high frequency words they expect children to memorize seems like an awful lot of words that don’t follow the general rules of reading. They can be taught to break down every word. My oldest did fine with sight words though so I know my middle daughter is probably the minority here. However, I have also noticed that my oldest doesn’t have the skills to break down a word she doesn’t know the same way my middle daughter can.
In a perfect world, parenting would come down to one sentence: Show only love, be only love. But in the world we all cope with, children grow up to face much non-loving behavior, primarily outside the home but sometimes within it as well. Rather than worry about whether you embody enough love to qualify as a spiritual teacher, look upon spirituality as a skill in living, since that is what it is. I believe in imparting these skills as early as possible by whatever means a child can understand.

We are a homeschooling, mostly unschooling family. My children are 5 and 9. Reading is an extremely fun activity in our lives and the children have access to books, library trips, computer activities, and art projects that involve creative writing. My assumption was that they would learn to read early and through osmosis because reading is just what we do. But that didn't seem to happen. My 9 year old daughter began "reading" books at three by memorizing the story and then reading it back, she also wrote in pretend writing at that age. It seemed she was on her way. However, I had been a teacher in public school so when she was 6 I had this need to introduce "reading" because I felt self-progress had been slow. What a mistake! Within three weeks my daughter was totally off reading and I had unknowingly discouraging her honest attempts to learn in her beautiful self-directed manner. She a visual learner and extremely creative. We had encouraged cooking, music, dance and the visual arts as conduits for learning because she loved them so. Of course, I saw the error in the reading approach I had introduced and backed off. It took nearly a year for her to even approach reading on her own again.
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.
This program might not work for everyone but it was perfect for our last child. When he was ready (and I tried it when he was 5 and no go) we whipped through the lessons. LOVED the scripted format with him sitting on the couch beside me. It really does teach them to read and in the beginning you don’t see how it will work, even for the reluctant learner. But it DID.
I’ve read to her since she was a newborn and she loves books. She likes me to read the same books to her over and over. I ask her questions about the story, she looks at the pictures and, without my provocation, she loves to study the pictures and talk at length about the story. I realize now, thanks to your suggestions, that while she is not sounding out and decoding, she is comprehending the actual story, which is more meaningful and productive.
Thank you for the information and to everyone else with their questions/replies. I am a single parent who has just recently started reading heavily with my 5 year old. He is aware of the sounds and has a few of the basic words down, but struggles with reading. This really makes me frustrated, but after reading this post/comments I am glad to know that what I am forcing him to do is way ahead of his time. Pushing him to read every night and being angry when he doesn’t remember might hinder him from future learning and I definitely do not want to do that. He truly enjoys the last part of the night where we open the books together and I want that feeling to last forever. I greatly appreciate the advice and will completely back off of my son as he still has time to grow into reading whole stories. Due to a late birthday he is currently in Pre-K so I think the pressure of wanting him to do well in school, being a single parent, and my own childhood misfortunes are having a negative impact on me. I plan to regroup for tomorrow nights reading and take things a lot slower with him and make sure that he knows that he is doing a great job. Thank you so much for you have saved me from me in a way.
Idzie, a 19-year-old unschooled but beautifully educated blogger, sent me a link to an essay, on her blog, about her own memories of learning to read. She wrote, in part: "When I was something like age 8 or 9, my mother was reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to my sister and me. But, well, she had things to do other than read, and if she read too long, her voice would get hoarse. So, being quite frustrated at how slow a process this was, and really wanting to know what happened next, I picked it up and began to read."
Take any alphabet toy, blocks, magnets, or whatever you have and make up silly words. Once they know most of the phonic sounds, it’s super easy and silly to make up your own words practicing the sound each letter makes. I’m sure you’re wondering about vowels and rules… we just don’t go there at this point. For now, all the vowels make one sound A – Ah , E – Eh, that kind of thing.

But even as our expectations continue to increase, the latest brain-development research shows that, on average, kids are simply not ready to start learning until around age 5. And those who do start sounding out words at younger ages aren't necessarily brighter, says Beverly Cox, an associate professor of literacy and language at Purdue University: "An early walker isn't destined to be a great athlete, and an early reader isn't destined to be more intelligent."


We are a homeschooling, mostly unschooling family. My children are 5 and 9. Reading is an extremely fun activity in our lives and the children have access to books, library trips, computer activities, and art projects that involve creative writing. My assumption was that they would learn to read early and through osmosis because reading is just what we do. But that didn't seem to happen. My 9 year old daughter began "reading" books at three by memorizing the story and then reading it back, she also wrote in pretend writing at that age. It seemed she was on her way. However, I had been a teacher in public school so when she was 6 I had this need to introduce "reading" because I felt self-progress had been slow. What a mistake! Within three weeks my daughter was totally off reading and I had unknowingly discouraging her honest attempts to learn in her beautiful self-directed manner. She a visual learner and extremely creative. We had encouraged cooking, music, dance and the visual arts as conduits for learning because she loved them so. Of course, I saw the error in the reading approach I had introduced and backed off. It took nearly a year for her to even approach reading on her own again.
When reading a book to your child, you can do more than just read the story. Use rich vocabulary to describe the pictures. Ask your child questions about what she thinks will happen on the next page. These techniques will improve her storytelling skills. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Show your child how to respect a book by turning the pages gently and carefully. Ask her to place the book back carefully in its place, instead of leaving it on the bed or on the floor.
If you’re nervous about teaching your child to read and the task is daunting, then 100 Lessons is an excellent resource. The book is scripted, which takes away the stress of wondering if you’re doing it right. And, although it can get boring for the kids as there is no color or flashy pages, I actually found this to work in our favor as my daughter got used to simple formats and responds well to my own homemade worksheets. It was also good for her to see that sometimes we have to work hard and press through to gain the benefits. There was great satisfaction from both of us when she finished the book and was reading far better than other kids her age and older.
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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