Teaching a 5 Year Old Read

Updated on June 27, 2012
R.M. asks from Cedar Park, TX
14 answers

I really want to focus on teaching my 5 year old to read this summer. What are the best resources for this? What websites are good?

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answers from Norfolk on

The best way is to snuggle up with him and read read read to/with him morning, noon and night.
No website is going to be an adequate substitute for your involvement in the process.
My son and I had just about every Dr Seuss book memorized.
Make story time happen just about any time during the day.
Have him look at the pages with you and pick out the letters.
'A' will be one day, 'E' will be another day, etc.
Play games where you get to know one word (like 'car') and then have him find that word anywhere it appears on a page.
What ever you do - make sure it's FUN and not a chore and be patient.
My son had a hard time with it up until the 2nd half of 2nd grade, and then he just took off.
By 3rd grade he was reading Harry Potter on his own - the school librarian couldn't believe it - she had him read the first few pages to her out loud before she let him check out the book.

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answers from Dallas on

Read to your child every day. Read books with rhyming words and nursery rhymes. Read books that have alliterations or other word play. Draw attention to the rhyming words, or the initial consonent sounds.

Run your finger along the text as you read. I love the Don and Audrey Wood books, Bill Martin Jr, Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown. Ask your local librarian.

In more complicated stories (say, Curious George) ask your child to make predictions about what happens next, or to say why she/he thinks something happened. "Why was the mother mad?" Child, "Because George made a mess."

As you drive or go on walks, or play in the back yard, notice something (say a bird) and see if your child can see, hear, or smell anything that starts with a B sound.

Listen to kids music in the car when you drive.

Assuming your child knows his/her alphabet, play games with site words. You can google "dolch" or "Frye" site word list, and get a list of the most common site words. Start with about 5-10 words. You can do bingo or matching/memory games with the site words. Then, when you are reading, have your child look for some of the words you are studying on the page.

There are lots of apps for beginning reading. Also, starfall.com is a favorite early reading website.

However, please dont make learning to read about a computer program - and please dont stress about it. Make it a bonding time over the love of books and words.

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answers from Austin on

Are you sure your child cannot already read?

I purchased a set (you can check them out from the library) a set of the BOB books.

On the way home, our daughter read the entire set! I turned the car around and exchanged them for the next set! She had just turned 4.

We had no idea she could read!

Take her to the library and sit with her to see if it is the same with your child.

We were at Costco yesterday and they had the Bob book sets with curriculum for a great price!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm sure you will get a lot of good suggestions. I want to add that some kids can not learn to read at 5. Please do not push, and do not be discouraged if your child is one of them. Read to them every day, this helps their comprehension and vocabulary. But, the most important lesson for children to learn is that reading is enjoyable.

My daughter, now 10, tests in the 99th percentile for reading after 4th grade. In 2nd grade, she was well below grade level. In 1st grade, she could read very very few words. Recent research on brain development in children backs up the fact that a child will learn to read, despite our best efforts, when that aspect of their brain is developed adequately. And there is absolutely nothing we can do to change, or accelerate, this development.

I am glad that despite my daughter's father pushing, and teachers telling her she "wasn't good at reading", I was able to help her get through these years and realize that reading can be fun and now she has her nose in a book all the time!

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answers from Albuquerque on

This is such a broad question that it's hard to answer. Where is your daughter at right now? Does she know her letters? The sounds they make? Can she read a few sight words?

And does she want to learn to read? If she would rather run around outside all summer, you're going to have a hard time getting her to concentrate. My girls are five, and they're almost reading. We haven't done anything specific - but we do read a lot of books together. They like to sit around and make their own books, just paper stapled together where they draw pictures and write words. At first the words were just scribbles and now they ask how to spell things. I think doing that has taught them more about how to read than any book or website could.

I'd advise heading to your local public library and asking the librarian for recommendations on books, and you could also check out the Starfall website. I haven't used it, but have heard good things from other people.

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answers from Williamsport on

The book "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington is fantastic. I homeschool, and my daughter (now six and an awesome reader) blew through it, and my son (4 1/2) is reading really well too and is about half-way through!

It focuses on classic phonics rather than memorizing, which is better in the future for comprehending other languages and having better reading skill. It lumps spelling and pronunciation rules together and layers them so they are easy to grasp as you move along. It has brief lessons to do "each day" but some days the kids would blow through like 4 lessons because they were simple and they understood. They light up so much when they sound out words, they want to keep going. I just sit on the floor with a chalk board and follow the book myself while spelling words and sentences for them in the lessons and it's really fun. The book recommends the magnetic board with plastic letters, but we like the chalk board. I wasn't intending to introduce reading to my son at four, but he wanted in on the act and is catching on amazingly.

I always read a lot to the kids and had my daughter sound things out to from easy reader books, but her reading just blasted off once we added this book's lessons into the mix, and now my son is doing the same. He's pointing words out when I'm reading to him because the reading lessons have taught him how to recognize things.

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answers from Redding on

If you've been reading to your child on a regular basis you have a great start, reading to them generlly give them a curiosity and they want to learn to read themselves.
If you havent been reading to them, start now. Use simple books, my favorite teaching to read books were Dr Seuss.
Start with Hop on Pop.
If your child knows and recognizes the alphabet, just explain that each letter has it own sounds, then demonstrate those sounds with short words, like Mom and Dad, an their own name. It will snowball fast as they get praised for each new word that they learn.

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answers from Houston on

I used a book called "Teach a Child to Read with Children's Books" by Mark Thogmartin and Mary Gallagher. The idea is that by using children's books the reading experience is fun (not so much like work). And if reading is fun the child will want to keep doing it. Also books with pictures really help the child to understand and remember the words better.

It really worked for us. If I remember correctly, it contained lists of books for each grade level. And we got our books from the library. You might even find "Teach a Child to Read..." at the library.



answers from San Antonio on

I agree that it is VERY important to read to your child, though showing them the words with your finger isn't all that helpful at a young age. Too many different sound combinations with the same letters in the books you are reading to them. If you want to teach your child to read, and not memorize sight words, then purchase the book "Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegrfried Engelmann. Stupid title I know, but it works. It uses the Distar method by learning sounds the letters make, not the acutal name of the letter. In fact, kids don't actual learn the name of each letter until later in the lessons. That is neither hear nor there since most kids know what the letters are called before they start reading. The idea is that you don't have to know what the letter "d" is called, only that it makes the "duh" sound. Websites like starfall are fun, but what do you do when the kid sees the sentence, right from the beginning, with "Zac has a bat"? He's heard the short a sound the whole time and then there is the single letter "a" getting a long a sound. That's the beauty of 100 Lessons. They will learn it makes that sound, not as a "sight" word. One of the first sentences my daughter read in the book, after one week, was "See me read." The signifigance of that was that she understood that the "e" could make a long sound with two ee's, with one e as in "me" and again the long "e" when coupled with "ea". Not using sight word gymnastics or "well this is an exception and so...." The letters are structured in a way that makes sense to the child and you. There is nothing tricky about it or needs long, arduous explanations. The pictures are boring, (though oddly my daughter liked some of the pics a lot) the entire book, at least my version which is 6 years old, was all black and white. So no, you will not get bright pics and smiling kangaroos holding bats. You WILL get a child who can decode words and is reading at a second grade level, or better, before she enters Kinder this fall. If you don't want to purchase it, many local libraries have it so you might be able to check it out. I do want to say, however, like others have mentioned: be sure your 5 year old WANTS to read. The 100 Easy lessons, is pretty simple, 20 minutes a day, so you can keep it short. But you want them to enjoy it, so don't force it. And we didn't do any of the handwriting that went with it. They can learn to write the letters if you want, but that can also wait for school. Good luck, reading should be fun, not tricky!!! HAVE FUN!!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

As everyone said, the more you read to your child, the better. Follow the words with your finger as you read so he can see them.

You are much better off teaching him to read from an actual book and not a website.

We liked the BOB books (available at Amazon and often at the big bookstores too). They start off very easy and each book gets a little bit harder. My son learned to read pretty easily from them.

Why do you want to focus on this so much? Is he showing an interest? If not, you aren't going to make as much progress as if you wait until he's ready. Let kindergarten do the teaching in the fall if he's not interested this summer.



answers from Detroit on

starfall.com first do the letters if you click on A.. an ant comes out .. it says a..

then it has easy stories to read on line.. click the word and it says the words..

also go to the library.. ask for the beginning readers books.. every library does it differently.. one libary here has Pre, level 1 level 2 and level 3 books.. another libary has L , M and U but get teh easiest books they have practice practice..

also I got phonics cards.. it has a card for every letter .. then the blends like ph, sh, bl, br... we practiced those too.



answers from Austin on

Why do you want him to read?

Will his kindergarten class have an advanced group for him if he is already reading or will he be bored as the teacher goes through the basics?

I would just spend time taking him to the library, letting him pick out books and reading to him. Let him see that reading is fun and there is so much out there. Your older kids should go to the library with you. Kids aren't reading as much as they used to and are learning that everything has to be stimulating and on a screen. Their brains are getting warped.



answers from Washington DC on

I think a phonics approach is best - at 4 my daughter wanted to learn to read so we started Hooked on Phonics. We also did lots of reading at bedtime and other times. We took our own pace especially at the beginning and I think that helped with kindergarten. In kindergarten, they only have a set time to learn so we took way longer to learn each letter and how to blend sounds together.


answers from Rochester on

You'll find that all schools have a different curriculum for teaching children to read and you may do something that will be totally different than what she'll start in K.

Work on phonics...you know, the sounds letters make. There are some fun workbooks at B&N that cover just this, and that's a good foundation for learning to read.

You can also work on sight words with flash cards...words that don't sound out phonetically, like the, mother, father, do, done, some, come, and high frequency works like it, if, is, so, we, me, they, etc.

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