How to Teach Reading

I quickly learned as a new homeschool mom, that a reading curriculum is very desirable and after a few tries of different things, I think I have figured out a decent system for teaching kids to read.

First off– they have to know the alphabet, all the letters and their sounds. The fastest way to do this is by watching Leapfrog’s DVD The Letter Factory.

The kids love it, and they learn the letters and their sounds quickly and easily. Continue reading with them, include alphabet books and sing the alphabet song with them frequently. Print off alphabet worksheets so they can color the letters and even learn to write them. Most kids will enjoy these activities, it does not seem like work at all. Also teach them the lower case letters as the DVD only shows the capital letters.

To teach them the lower case letters, I get out my good old-fashioned paper and marker and write out the whole alphabet for them in lower case letters and review the names and sounds with them.  I also teach them the five vowels by singing a, e, i, o, u   a, e, i, o, u  a, e, i, o, u and vowels have sounds/ names too — to the tune of Bingo  B-I-N-G-O as I point to each letter.  I do it 3 times with the short vowel sounds and 3 times with the long vowel sounds.  It is very important that they are familiar with the vowels.

The next thing I learned to teach is how to sound out words– we start with the short easy words and say the sounds slowly and them say them quickly and to help them blend them together. I learned that technique from the book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  Other than that, I didn’t find that book very helpful, although I know several people who have used it successfully.

Once they know the letters fairly well and have the idea of blending down, my favorite reading curriculum is The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Huffington .

It usually takes us about 1 1/2 – 3 years to get through the entire book and by the end the kids are reading all sorts of things. Each lesson is about a page and introduces one letter sound at a time. It goes through all the diphthongs and consonant blends all the way through compound words. Slowly but surely, the goal is always to do one lesson each school day.  I also assign them other things to read to me as well.  It really is awesome when they “get it” and take off on their own.

We also read other little readers and easy reading books for practice along the way. Some of our favorites are Bob books, Little Bear and Amelia Bedelia. I also have the kids read these free readers on All my kids have been reading fluently and well, enjoying chapter books by around age 7.


Treehouse books are usually the first chapter books I have the kids read when I think they are ready.  It is really helpful to take turns reading the book.  We’ll start by each reading a paragraph, then as the kids get better, we each read a page, until they no longer need help and get interested enough in a book to read on their own.  My boys have loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Calvin and Hobbes– those seem to be the first books they will read on their own.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid search list on amazon
Magic Treehouse Series on amazon

All my kids have gotten to this point around age 7-9.  And reading is enjoyable to each of them now, so that definitely feels like a success as a parent.  Good luck to you!!