Overview: It doesn’t have to be difficult to teach reading to your child. This article tells about our favorite resource and how we utilized it in our own homeschool.
I may not have done much in my life, but I did teach five people to read.
I am personally responsible for the eldest loving Agatha Christie, and #2 laughing out loud at Shakespeare — and #3, #4, and #5 (the only ones left at home, now) maxing out their library cards every two weeks, so that a quiet settles over our house after every trip.
My kids know what it means to say, “The book is better than the movie.” They are well-practiced in the plea, “Just let me finish this chapter,” when being tucked into bed at night. My kids embrace the joys of reading — of walking in someone else’s moccasins, of traveling far while never leaving the sofa, of considering literary characters to be friends.
I list this as a big achievement on my resumé, y’all; and if I never do anything else significant, at least I’ve done that.
What I can’t take credit for is working very hard at it. Because teaching reading can be very easy with the right resource. The book we used to teach reading actually has the word “easy” in the title — and it fulfills that promise.
The fact is that teaching a child to read is one of our first exposures to homeschooling. It needs to be done with a resource that tells us exactly what to do and when to do it. We know reading is important, and we don’t want to mess it up. So vague instructions are not going to do it. We need things spelled out from A to Z. (Ha, see what I did there? 🙂 )
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is not an imposing-looking book. It is actually rather inexpensive — cheap, compared to the value of what’s inside — and isn’t extremely thick. Inside, the font is nice and big. ANYBODY can teach ANYBODY to read using this book, I promise. Especially a parent, who is naturally emotionally invested in the idea of helping their child succeed in life.
Why I like using this book to teach reading:
There is a 20-page parents’ guide at the beginning of the book that explains in detail how the lessons are constructed, why they are constructed that way, and what the parent is going to do about it. So if you’re the type who likes to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll have the answers right here.
For every lesson you are given the exact words to say to your child. You are also given exact instructions on what to do. There is no guessing, no having to make things up on the fly, no relying on your own knowledge for this first experience at homeschooling. There is no worry that you may be forgetting or omitting something important; it’s all printed out plainly for you to say — in red ink, so you can’t miss it. 🙂
You are also told the exact response to expect from your child for each instruction from you. And perhaps more importantly, you are told what to say to correct your child for an incorrect response. No worry that you are teaching wrongly or over- or under-correcting.
The book is based on teaching reading using the sounds the letters make, i.e., phonics. This means that your child will be learning the building blocks of spelling, as well, as he learns to sound out words. My husband still struggles with spelling, because he was taught reading during the era of memorizing how a word “looked” and hoping you could come up with the right one when it was flashed at you. (I realize I am dating ourselves, here… please ignore that part of it.)
The lessons do not teach the letter names at first; instead the child is taught only the sound the letter makes. I know, I know, you’re so proud of Johnny who can recite the alphabet at age 2, and that’s great. But telling the kid to say “em” when the sound is really “mmmm” can be confusing when trying to learn to read. So this book ignores the letter names until much further on. It doesn’t mean Johnny will be confused; just don’t bring up the names and he won’t even notice.
Along those same lines, the book starts out using symbols added to letters to show the child which sound to make. After all, the letter “e” can have at least two different sounds and can also be silent. The book uses different symbols for the different sounds of “e”, and the letter is written in a smaller font to show when it is silent. Later on these symbols and font changes are taken away, but the transition is painless because by then the child is comfortable with when those different sounds appear.
Because of this type of formatting and the big print and the simplicity of the lessons, you can begin to teach your child reading as early as age 3. I did wait until later than that for a couple of my kids, but that was mostly based on my convenience rather than their maturity level. This was our “preschool.” We did away with all the “give me five words that start with the ‘z’ sound” and “circle all the pictures that contain the ‘p’ sound” stuff. We went straight to the meat; and because of this book, we were successful.
The child reads his first word in lesson three and his first story in lesson 13. Granted, the story is only three words long — but it is accompanied by a picture, so that means something, lol! Progress is fast, so the child feels rewarded for his efforts. The lessons themselves move quickly from one activity to the next, and they are only about 20 minutes each, so boredom is not an issue, either.
By the end of the book, the child is reading and comprehending stories that are about 150-200 words long and are at about a second-grade level. “Sam I am” is child’s play (haha) for them by the time they’ve finished. That’s a huge feat for only 100 days of work.
How I used this book to teach reading:
The book includes handwriting practice, but after the first few attempts, we gave this part of it up. I’ve found that my kids were not physically ready to hold and guide a pencil with that much precision until they were closer to 6 years old, and we usually started this book a long while before that. I decided that if I was going to teach reading, I would stick to teaching reading and let the handwriting come along later.
For each child I wrote the date of the day we did each lesson on that particular page. Each child had a different color of ink. So now the book is a chronicle of each child’s journey as he/she learned to read. I look at it now and see those dates and remember writing them in there… sigh.
In our family, one of the most important reasons we wanted our children to learn to read was so they would be able to read God’s Word, the Bible. So we gave them a
bribe reward for finishing the book — their own engraved, leather-bound Bible. Not a kiddie one with cartoon pictures and abridged text, but a real, grown-up Bible just like mom’s and dad’s. This became a milestone in our family for each child. We would have a special ceremony to present them with their Bible, and The Man always inscribed something on the inside front cover just for them. Then, when we had family devotions, they would take a turn reading out loud from their own Bible, which they could do fairly well after finishing the 100 lessons. Until very recently, when we purchased each of the older girls a study Bible, these were the Bibles they used for devotions and church. The younger two, now 15 and 12, still use these as their go-to Bible.
Another thing I did that made the whole process easier: I didn’t rush. We were not on a deadline for finishing this book; instead, we took over a year to complete it with each of the kids. When we had time to work on it, we did. If we were getting frustrated with it, we took a break for a few days. This made the whole process more enjoyable for everyone and gave us a real sense of accomplishment when we were done.
When a child has finished going through this book, he/she will be able to read many of the gems I’ve listed in my article about books to give as gifts for the toddler to early elementary years.
Do you enjoy reading? What is your favorite book?