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How My Daughter Learned to Read With Children’s Books

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I have previously written about the struggle I was having helping Feisty learn to read using 100 Easy Lessons.  By the end of last year, at age 4, Feisty could sound out simple words but did not really enjoy reading because it was a lot of work for her.  As a result, at the end of August, I switched to a modified version of the method outlined in Teach a Child to Read With Children’s Books.  Here is how my daughter began reading in less than two months:


First, I obtained some repetitive/pattern books for Feisty, 5, to practice “reading.” For this, we used Little Christian Readers and certain of the Itty Bitty Phonics Readers Series (Dan Can Add, Daisy Dances, What is the Weather? — all the ones that use more repetitive text).  We read about 20 of these books over and over.  If you want to know exactly what we used, here is the list in the approximate order we used them:

  1. Little Christian Readers: I Am by De Anna Spencer
  2. Little Christian Readers: I Can See by De Anna Spencer
  3. Dan Can Add by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  4. Little Christian Readers: We Give by De Anna Spencer
  5. Little Christian Readers: Pray by De Anna Spencer
  6. Daisy Dances by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  7. Little Christian Readers: Look! Six, Seven, Eight by De Anna Spencer
  8. Little Christian Readers: In My Heart by De Anna Spencer
  9. No, No, Nicky by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  10. Little Christian Readers: One Tree, Two Birds by De Anna Spencer
  11. Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle
  12. Little Christian Readers: Chicks, Chicks, Nine by De Anna Spencer
  13. Little Christian Readers: Over My Head by De Anna Spencer
  14. Tick-Tock Time by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  15. What is in Bear’s Box by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  16. What is the Weather? by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  17. Quiet, Please! by Rozanne Lanczak Williams (Creative Teaching Press)
  18. Do You Want to be My Friend? By Eric Carle
  19. My Coins by Tammy Jones
  20. Baby Says by John Steptoe

Using the repetitive/pattern readers really built Feisty’s reading confidence and helped her to enjoy reading because she wasn’t having to stop and sound out every single word.  Suddenly, reading became fun again.

Second, in addition to using repetitive/pattern readers, I also had Feisty practice sounding out a few words each day.  I used words off the Dolch Pre-Primer and Primer word lists and other words that were of relevance to her.  This helped Feisty gain speed and confidence with sounding out words.  Eventually, she began to recognize some words like “the.” She was also pointing out words she knew when we were out and about town.  At this point, I introduced McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer into the picture and had Feisty read one or more sentences a day from Lesson IV.  She was confident at trying to sound out new words by this point and so did not balk at this.

Third, Teach a Child to Read With Children’s Books recommends having a child write a story each day with an adult’s help and then copy down all or part of the story onto a paper.  Feisty really enjoyed doing this but I did not want to do it with her every day.  This is due to the fact that Feisty makes grammatical mistakes and does not always construct proper-sounding sentences (“There was on the farm a pig…”).  Having a child copy her own “poor” sentences did not seem like the right thing to do to me.  So, instead, we worked on 2 pages of Adventures in Phonics A (ours is second edition) four days a week and wrote stories on Fridays.  I used phonics training as a check on reading to see if Feisty was just memorizing stories or actually learning to read words.

By this time, it was mid-October and we discovered that Feisty had head lice.  We have been having a challenge with a neighborhood child spreading lice around the neighborhood and this time Feisty was the one with a head full of bugs.  We took a day off school while I combed bugs out of Feisty’s hair, and she asked to read some of her books while I was doing the combing.  I brought her the books she already knew as well as Christian Liberty’s It is Fun to Read by Florence K. Lindstrom.  I thought Feisty might like to try doing the first story.  I was wrong.  She read six stories and was mighty pleased with herself.  She recognized many of the words in the stories and was able to quickly sound out any new words she encountered.  I was so proud!

So now, Feisty is reading and I’m sure will improve in leaps and bounds as she continues to practice with old and new books.  How exciting!


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