Question of the Day: How did you teach James to read???

Wow! James reads so well, how did you teach him? The person who asked expected a simple answer. What she wanted to hear was “Oh, it was easy, all we did was show him how to read and that was it”

What she got was a loaded answer.

I start to explain it was a multi step process. First we had to teach him how to recognize the alphabet and learn the letter sounds. He really enjoyed watching Leap Frog Video’s and Between the Lions on PBS. It is an excellent show. He learned a lot from them. (her eyes start to twitch and look for a way out of this conversation). Next, we used Phonics Pathways to teach him how to read. (her eyes are glazing over and her hands are twitching) He learned to sound out words and read simple books like “Bob Books”, then progressed to easy readers. (she is shuffling her feet and looking for an excuse to escape)

I decide to let her off the hook and cut it short saying “thank you for asking. It’s actually a long process and doesn’t happen over night. He is doing great.

I guess it also helps that James has a photographic memory. He remembers everything he reads and hears and sees. Once he learned how to read, he needed incentives to read. Sure we read together at bedtime. He reads one story and I read one story. However, I wanted to establish a reading time. A time after lunch when he would sit down and read aloud to me or his dad. Plus, he had to read clearly, distinctly, and loud enough for us to hear and understand the story.

Well it just wasn’t happening. Life would interfere and I would forget to tell him to go get a book. We would get busy or he would get involved in a computer game. When he read aloud to me at bedtime, he would be tired and skip words or mumble. Not to enjoyable for the listener (me)

So! I decided to give him some incentive. I told him if he reads 25 books, he will get a video of his choice. Now, they couldn’t all be easy readers. We started the list and he fell to reading with a vengeance. He whipped through all the easy readers and went on to “The Little Engine That could” and “Theodore Tugboat” and all his “Thomas the Tank Engine” His reading skills have improved. He is speaking with clarity and even doing all the voices for the characters in the story. So for the past 4 weeks, he has been reading 25 books a week and getting the DVD of his choice.

We just decided to make it a little more difficult and change that list to 35 books.

What he read last week

1. St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning
2. Tikki Tikki Tembo
3. Choo Choo
4. Thomas the Tank Engine: Henry’s Bad Day
5. Blueberries for Sal
6. Teletubbies
7. Bob the Builder: Mucks Map
8. Bob the Builder Bob’s Toolbox Mixup
9. Jungle Book
10. Winnie the Pooh Owls Trip South
11. Paul Revere’s Ride
12. Winnie the Pooh’s Neighborhood
13. Mailing May
14. Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip (Equaled 3 books)
15. “
16. “
17. Why Cowboys Sleep with their Boots on
18. Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express ( equaled 2 books)
19. “
20. I love you, Stinky Face
21. I Miss you, Stinky Face
22. Harold at the North Pole
23. The Bee Tree (equaled 2 books)
24. “
25. The Gullywasher

He got his DVD and the new list has been started. Let’s see how long before he reads 35 books.


  1. I like it! It's easy to see and read and negotiate. For some reason though I can't comment easily on this type of blog. I have to be anonymous and then sign my name. If it's obvious to you what I'm doing wrong, let me know.

    Have fun with your blog!

  2. I am still working it out. I disabled the pop up box because it wasn't displaying correctly. This is on google so you either have to have a google account or sign in anonymously. I don't have a problem with anonymous entries as long as it is signed, like you did.

  3. I'm sorry I missed reading this two years ago. Its still an excellent example today. Learning to read is one of the best gifts our children can receive. Its with them forever. Thanks for re-posting this one. Congratulations on your blogaversary.


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