Learning how to read: a primer
December 27, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Recommend to me materials to help a 5 year old learn to read.

My son's 5 and he's just starting to get the hang of letters and words. What books or teaching materials are recommended to help me help him?
posted by boo_radley to Education (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
My nephew is 4 and is learning how to read from playing Nintendo games, believe it or not. I'm afraid the first word he's going to know how to read is Pikachu.
posted by empath at 1:44 PM on December 27, 2010

The best way to get your son reading is to expose him to as many books he likes as you can. Help him sound out words, ask him if the pictures give clues about what the words might be. There's no magic formula for teaching reading, but a love of books and stories is a fantastic start.
posted by epj at 1:59 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our daughter has enjoyed these.

And nightly reading, pretty much the same three books for six months at a time until someone is bored. Right now The Night Before Christmas, Goodnight Moon, Very Hungry Caterpillar. I don't think the book matters really as long as the kid likes it.

My mother read Good Housekeeping to me when I was a kid and lok how gud i terned out.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:05 PM on December 27, 2010

Oh, and if you have an iPhone or iPad, the software for some of that stuff is really stunning, with nice music and it's highly interactive, not some passive thing a kid just watches. It's pretty neat.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2010

the best suggestion is things that interest him. keep books around. read him some, don't read him others. let him pick the books for story time. mandate an "in bed, but can still read/be read to" time.

i'd stay away from phonetic instruction at first.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on December 27, 2010

Yep, we've been reading to him since he was born and I agree with you totally. I'd like to find materials that are perhaps more formal and pedagogical in structure.
posted by boo_radley at 2:11 PM on December 27, 2010

Read to him, lots. Coloring books with words are great, too. I was a big fan of dot-to-dot stuff with words in text bubbles around that age. I also loved trading cards, Sesame Street, and having the captions on the TV turned on. Oh, and those books with recordings, where you turned the page at the ding.

The grocery store and street signs are also good practice zones.

(Be careful with the more formal "learn to read" stuff, especially if he's at all oppositional. Hooked On Phonics was hated at my house when my sister was learning to read - she spent almost a year on the first tape, which is why I can still sing "A E I O U... are vowels!" in perfect time fifteen years after the tape bit the dust.)
posted by SMPA at 2:11 PM on December 27, 2010

I learned to read using the McGuffey Readers. I have also used these on my own children with great success and they've enjoyed learning using them!
posted by Sassyfras at 2:12 PM on December 27, 2010

i learned to read when i was 3 or so. i basically did it on my own. i had siblings younger than me who were put on hooked on phonics. they did horrible with it and up until the 3rd grade were still having problems that seemed to stem from the formal education of reading.

when i learned french, i taped index cards all over the house with the french word written on them (like on the mirror, tv, dishes, clothes, foods, etc) so i could start associating the thing with the word. i've seen parents do the same for kids learning to read.
posted by nadawi at 2:23 PM on December 27, 2010

I learned to read around 3 and a half, mainly through osmosis and lots of picture books (also reading signs and other words floating around in the world). What really fueled me was learning to "sound out" words and figuring out what letters were associated with what sounds.

I learned to write around the same time, which likely helped in terms of practice and repetition. In fact, to this day I still remember things best through the action of writing them down.

Sorry I can't recommend any particular materials - I learned this stuff in school. Maybe look into what the local schools are using?
posted by Sara C. at 2:44 PM on December 27, 2010

My kid brings home little stapled books from Kindergarten that she's colored. Every page is the same sentence with the last word changed, (like, "Spot likes to hide. Spot likes to run. Spot likes to chew,"). She uses the pictures as cues, and it's led her from "faking it" to actually reading on her own. Plus, we praise her like she cured cancer every time, since she's very shy.
posted by monkeymadness at 3:07 PM on December 27, 2010

Although I dislike the name of this web site, they do have many useful links to materials to teach reading.
posted by trigger at 3:54 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I taught my kids using the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." This worked very well for my (normal) daughter who wanted to read at age 5 but had a December birthday but couldn't start school yet. This worked OK to a point with my older son who needed speech therapy - he also had tracking issues (his eyes were not moving together, so basically it looked like the letters were floating around. It became an issue as the fonts got smaller.) "100 Easy Lessons" may be available at your library for you to look through.

We are currently homeschooling and we are using the K12 curriculum. The phonics program is great, but goes very fast, so my youngest who just turned 6 started with the K12, and has switched over to the "100 Easy Lessons." Stop and review if you encounter resistance or crying. Switch to something else if needed.

If your child is in school, you probably will be getting home those little photo-copied books, have him read those to you. If you aren't getting those, "Bob Books" are great little phonetic readers that cost a dollar or two and may be available at your library. If in school, see if you can get an idea of what he is working on and get the corresponding books.

My kids all loved Reader Rabbit for reading and math, and Leapster games. www.starfall.com if a free website with stories and activities that is really cool. My kids love the stories, and the oldest played with the site long after she could read due to the interactive nature of things. Starfall has no ads which is another added bonus. It has stuff from identifying letters and sounds, up to stories that can be read to the child when the child points to each word.

Wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 6:02 PM on December 27, 2010

I like the Ladybird Key Words readers. I had them and remember them fondly (and read at 3, for what little that is worth) and now my 3yo is enjoying them, and has been starting to sound stuff out. They are nice little confidence-builders as it is easy to get the 'key words' down and then 'read' them with minimal help.
posted by kmennie at 6:14 PM on December 27, 2010

Roberta Pournelle, Jerry Pournelle's wife, has a PC based learn to read program.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:29 PM on December 27, 2010

You can play some games with the letters.

Write the letter B. Now go around the house and find all kinds of things that start with B or (harder) have a B in them somewhere.

In preschool, my girls' teacher made matching worksheets with letters down the left side of the page and the same letters in different order down the right side. Kids were to draw lines to match them. Harder: put pictures that start with that letter down the right side.

Similar to what nadawi said with the index cards all over the house - but have your child put them on the things. Help him read the words, then find that object and tape the card to the object. Later go around and read those words again. And play letter games with the letters in those words.
posted by CathyG at 7:32 PM on December 27, 2010

I taught myself to read at age 2 and a half. I attribute my early interest in reading mostly to the fact that my mother read to me often, usually every day. I was always allowed to choose the book I wanted to hear, even if it meant that my mom ended up reading me a crappy book about a dump truck multiple times daily. We always had books around, and I was encouraged to take out a big stack, even if I made a mess in the process.

I didn't like Dr. Seuss in general, but his ABC book was one of my favorites, and I think the format was really helpful.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:35 PM on December 27, 2010

My daughter more or less taught herself to read with headsprout: http://www.headsprout.com/index.cfm.

She went pretty far with it but got to a place that was too hard for her. She dropped it for a couple of months, her brain grew, and she was able to figure out the rest on her own. I think she never quite finished the whole program.

She's a very strong reader now. I think headsprout gave her a great foundation.

The first book she read on her own was Green Eggs and Ham, followed by Hop on Pop. Dr. Seuss's books are classics.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 8:45 PM on December 27, 2010

Just wanted to say, you may not be able to do this. One kindergarten teacher I know said learning to read is like a lightbulb going on, and you never know when it might happen. Could be when the child is 4, 5, 6, or 7.

My very literary son read his very first chapter book the summer after his first-grade year; it was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We'd read to him constantly in the years leading up to that and practiced with Dr Seuss and so on. A kid's ready when he or she is ready. My son (now 16) is an excellent writer and avid reader; it doesn't matter that he started reading on his own a bit late.

This isn't to say don't try; it's just to say don't stress out and don't stress out your kid! He'll get there. Read to him a lot, and have books around that might catch his interest. There is nothing that will motivate a child to read more than wanting to know What Happens Next.
posted by torticat at 9:05 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I came in to recommend "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" as well. My mom used it for me over 25 years ago, and I'm using it now with my youngest son who just turned five. Always read to your kids, as much as possible.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:09 PM on December 27, 2010

Monkeymadness is talking about BOB books and that is what I wanted to recommend too. We got ours on Amazon and I have to say they clicked the most with our kid and got her SO excited to read. I'd do a link but I can not figure that shit out.
posted by 58 at 9:11 PM on December 27, 2010

Raw now prints learn-to-read comics under the Toon Books imprint, broken down for different age brackets, and kids reading them are always really engaged.
posted by MaddyRex at 10:03 PM on December 27, 2010

Monkeymadness is talking about BOB books ...

posted by Bruce H. at 11:24 PM on December 27, 2010

I always thought it was clever that the Montessori method stressed learning how to write before learning how to read as explained here and here.
posted by oceano at 11:45 PM on December 27, 2010

Starfall was great for us.

At most libraries, you can find a section called "Beginning Readers" or "Easy Readers."

Like others have said, books about whatever he's interested. I know little kids whose first words they could read were polysyllabic names of dinosaurs. Also writing little notes that use vocabulary he can decode, like "We are going to the zoo!"

Recently we went through these little books, similar to the BOB books, but to my child and me, more engaging: Now I'm Reading.

For actual workbook type stuff, we both find Explode the Code workbooks enjoyable. Also Modern Curriculum Press Phonics and Spectrum Phonics. With all three of those workbooks, I select and rip out the pages I want her to do. I know what she likes on a page, and usually can tell what she will and won't enjoy doing.

Like others have said, reading is developmental, and it's normal for some kids to get it at 3, and for others to get it at 9. I know that with my child, I need to keep lessons short, and simple, and fun. Not rollicking fun, just positive and upbeat.
posted by Ellemeno at 3:04 AM on March 5, 2011

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