The summer before starting kindergarten, our daughter, Caroline, started reading her first chapter books! She went into kindergarten knowing how to read, and it has been wonderful to have completed this milestone. Especially, since this year we had to do virtual kindergarten with the pandemic. With her knowing how to read already, we really have been able to sit back and relax feeling super confident in her abilities.
**Before I go any further, this review I’m about to write (for the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Steps)… it is from one VERY pleased Mama over here! This reading system is absolutely freaking wonderful and I can’t say enough good things about it. So, you definitely want to stay a bit and read on…. and take a look at the video in this post. In the video I show Caroline reading during different lessons: Lesson 9, lesson 31, lesson 69, lesson 100, and reading a chapter book after completion of this reading curriculum.
At the age of 2.5, Caroline was asking me to teach her how to read. She wanted to be able to read to her baby sister that was on the way. It was adorable, but I found myself scratching my head as I realized I had no idea how to teach her to read, and it seemed way too early! We just kept reading to her- a lot! Reading was always one of her favorite things to do.
As she got older, I began researching the best ways to teach her how to read. I found BOB books, and some phonics books. But as I showed them to her I just wasn’t feeling it was enough of what we were looking for. I wanted something that really walked us through it in thought out ways and was more of a formal system.
Then, someone mentioned the book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons–
A Happy Mom’s Review
We started this book when Caroline was 4 years old. It was the summer before she started PreK, and I envisioned doing 1 lesson each day for 100 days. It was June 1st, and I figured we’d use the approximately 90 days of June, July and August to get most of it done, and that we’d finish up in the fall working around her PreK schedule.
Timeline from Start to Finish
So let me first start by telling you that my goal was completely out of touch with reality. I took the name 100 Easy Lessons to mean I could do this in 100 easy days LOL! Not at all feasible (at least not with a 4 year old).
This book took us almost a little less than 1 year to get through. Maybe we were slow, or maybe it’s because our daughter was doing this at age 4, but I can’t imagine doing it much faster. And, once we got into it, I wasn’t at all disappointed by this timeline. Learning to read takes time and it is not a sprint. It isn’t something to rush.
We started with 1 lesson per day. The lessons were quick. Maybe 5 minutes each day. We probably succeeded at 1 lesson per day for about 1.5 to 2 months.
Then, things get more challenging and time consuming. This book has a lot of repetition (something that is super helpful when learning to read), and so the lessons get longer and longer. And in each lesson it has you repeat sections of it twice, or until the child is comfortable with the new sound/concept. So, to do it right, you are spending a good chunk of time.
For a 4 year old (even an advanced 4 year old like Caroline), it was a lot. We started to take a day off in between lessons. Then a couple days. Then it seemed more feasible to just do one lesson per week. And towards the end, we were taking 2 back to back days to finish one lesson per week.
With each chunk of the book, we found a good rhythm and settled into our routine. But it was necessary to reassess our lessons and how often we were doing them. Each time the lessons got longer and more challenging, we’d have to take a look at our time allotment and frequency and adjust to something that made sense.
At first, it was hard to let go of my expectations, but once I realized it was ok to do so, I watched my daughter and simply removed all expectations. I could see the book was working and how amazing it was. So I just settled in and watched her cues and adjusted our frequency of lessons as needed.
My First Impression
I think with anything we are teaching to our kids… from potty training, to eating with utensils, to reading…parents have to first be 110% committed and on-board. If you are only 80%, your child is going to feel that and drop their engagement and positivity as well.
When I first opened this book, and in the first few days, I felt my excitement dwindle a bit. The book felt weird. Different. Awkward. I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right, honestly. And so I doubted it for a bit. I thought about stopping. I felt like I wasn’t getting the hang of it.
But I looked at Caroline, and she was. She was getting it. So I powered on and my excitement grew as I saw the results firsthand.
I tell you this, because it was my reality. I remember it well. And then I remember when we were about a month in, being so happy that I stuck to it. I had finally found my groove with it and I knew how to teach it well by then. The book starts slow for kids, but honestly, I felt it did me, as the teacher, a good service with that as well. It really gave me a chance to learn how to teach it and settle in.
The Format of the Reading Lessons
This reading system focuses on sounds, and uses visual clues to help your little one know which sound to use and how many sounds, etc. The combination is genius!
Below you’ll see some pictures of the text of the book. Anything written in pink is for the teacher/parent to read verbatim. It leads you through exactly what to do.
In the first lessons, the child is taught to play “say it fast” and put sounds together quickly. This concept stays throughout the book as your child sounds out words slowly and then says them fast to form the word. This is a concept I hear my daughter doing in virtual kindergarten this year!
Under each long sound they learn is a dot. For short sounds the book introduces this symbol (>) under the sound.
The book also uses lines over the letters to show long sounds for vowels.
When teaching words, the book starts by showing only the sounds that are said. So the word “seat,” as an example, is shown at first as “set” with the line above the E to indicate a long E sound, and no A shown at all (see picture below):
Then the book adds in the A in later lessons, but it is shown in a smaller font, and the child is taught to not say the sounds of any small letters.
Eventually the book builds up to taking out these visual helps, but these visual markings help your child to immediately recognize which sound to use and how many sounds they need for each word. The visuals are key to this system and work SO well.
It slowly introduces sounds throughout the book and uses only the sounds taught already in a slow, steady build with each lesson.
By lesson 8 your child is reading words. By lesson 13 your child will be reading his/her first sentence. In lesson 22, the first two sentence story is read. In lesson 38, the first paragraph.
Before you know it, your child is reading decent sized stories with each lesson. By lesson 50, the dots and sound markings below the letters are removed. And by lesson 74, all of the above markings and small letters are removed.
Lesson 82 adds in uppercase letters when appropriate. Oh and the entire time, titles and punctuation have been there, so your child is used to seeing quotation marks and periods.
In addition to learning sounds and actual reading, each lesson focuses on reading comprehension questions, picture comprehension, rhyming, and even writing!
This book is not just teaching sounds and reading, but rather teaching your child to know what they are reading and how to write along the way.
The goal of doing this book was to teach our daughter how to read. It did just that. We followed the book perfectly, and when we were done, our now 5 year old was able to read pretty much anything we put in front of her with very minimal help.
We learned along the way, however, not to try and have her read books, until we had completed all 100 lessons. Other phonics books and learn to read books that we had on hand, taught sounds in a completely different order. So, even though she was reading paragraphs in this book, she was not able to read other books yet because the sounds had not yet been taught to her.
Introducing other reading materials at other times in the day for her to read, caused her frustration and confusion. But when we stuck to the curriculum in the book, we saw fantastic success. The key is to just be patient.
This book also shows your child that they can figure out how to read any word they come across! They learn how to sound things out, and are not just memorizing words. So, they really come out of this with a whole lot of confidence and understanding about the sounds in our language.
Our daughter is a highly sensitive child. If you aren’t familiar with this trait or the book, you can find out more about it in this post on HSCs. Part of how this impacts her, however, is that she is a perfectionist and she gets anxiety around that perfectionism.
As a result, she ran into a lot of anxiety before these lessons at times, because she was scared she’d mess up a word and not say it correctly. Even with explaining to her that it’s ok to mess up, she was having a hard time with the idea of it.
At times, saying it was time to do a reading lesson would send her into an all out screaming fit. At times, she’d be fine until she got to a word that she didn’t know. She’d know exactly how to sound it out, but had never heard the word before, so she was afraid it was wrong and refused to participate in the lesson. And yet other times she was excited and really wanted to do her lessons.
Obviously, these are not challenges that everyone’s child would run into with these lessons. But for our daughter, they became a real struggle. This was part of the reason we eased up on the frequency and really took our time getting through this book. After all, our 4 year old didn’t need to know how to read. This was extra work that we were putting in due to her expressed desire to learn how to read. And we in no way wanted to create a negative experience.
Other than those behavioral types of hurdles, we really didn’t run into any issues. Once I had a feel for how to teach this book well, we moved through it smoothly and with ease.
What Ages You Can Teach With This Book
I would not recommend using this book with children any younger than 4. I think 5 and up is probably the perfect age. We saw great success with our 4 year old, but she is a child who also knew the entire alphabet at 18 months old and had a strong passion for reading.
Things went slowly. I think part of that was because she was a young 4 when we started, and part of that was due to her high sensitivity.
Now, looking at my son that is a week from turning 2… he’s the complete opposite of her (when it comes to interests, not smarts). He has no interest in learning the alphabet as Caroline did. He doesn’t bring me books to read all day long. He probably won’t have the same desire to read at 2.5 that Caroline did. And so I imagine the age of 4 might be a bit early for him. But we’ll see!
I know the capability is there at age 4, but it’s a matter of if your child can stay focused long enough. I personally will have a goal to have begun this or completed this with our son before he starts kindergarten though. I think it has been invaluable to have given our daughter a head start with this program!
I have a feeling, we’ll start this book later with him (when he’s 5), and he’ll finish it around the same time Caroline did because it will go faster starting at an older age. Just a hunch though!
I’ve seen parents in groups and my friends talk about this book taking a long time as it did with us, and some talk about it taking about 3-4 months. It really is child dependent, but I think the sweet spot might be ages 5 and 6 with this book!
Who Should Use This Book
Honesty, I think everyone can benefit from this book. It lays such a good foundation for sounds. I think it really builds confidence and provides a good foundation for all readers.
- If your child is in preschool/prek and hasn’t learned how to read yet this book is definitely the best place to start.
- If your child is in kindergarten or first grade and doesn’t yet know how to read or is struggling to gain traction with it, this book will help tremendously.
- If your child is reading some words and even some basic books, but you’d like them to advance further… I think this book is also perfect for those children. The beginning lessons might go really fast for them (as in you might do several per day), but they will still learn so much from completing this book. I think it is still worth going through the whole curriculum. The understanding of typical letter combination sounds will be invaluable.
What To Do When You Finish the Reading Lessons
At the back of this book there is a list of reading suggestions for when you finish all 100 lessons. I think this is a great starting point. The reality, however, is that you can really just pick up any of the easy readers, phonics, learn to read books, P.D. Eastman, Dr. Seuss books, etc. or any children’s book on your shelf.
Your child will be able to sound things out. And you will be there to help your child. Keep using the same language that you learned in the book. Remind them of all the “rules” they learned if they get stuck on something.
I ask questions like “What sound does “ea” usually make together?” This reminds her that she learned the e is long, and the a is “small” or doesn’t make a sound. She remembers those visual cues and I draw upon that to help her.
My advice is to tell your child that once they finish the lessons, they will be reading out loud every day. We told Caroline that our expectation was that she practice reading every night with us so we could remember everything she’d learned.
We’ve done just that and it’s worked perfectly. At first we’d trade off… Caroline would read a page, then we would, and back and forth. Then she worked up to reading whole books. You could see the excitement in her eyes when she realized she could pull any book off of the shelf and figure it out.
After a couple of months reading the learn to read books like Amelia Bedelia (up to level 3 pretty quickly), she was ready and asking to try a chapter book. A librarian recommended The Critter Club series to us, and Caroline loved it. I think we are now on book 8 of this series and still going strong. I’d highly recommend it as a first chapter book series to try.
The book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a great phonics based system with visual cues that will create a great foundation for your child and have them reading easily.
When you child shows interest in reading, you should start teaching them to read. Reading words will start around age 4 and up. But really, reading starts even earlier when you are teaching the alphabet and sounds.
Most children learn to read around age 6 or 7.
Research has shown that children learn best by learning phonics and understanding sounds. Reading to them often, and pointing to words as you read will help them start learning before you even realize it’s happening.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy lesson is a great resource to use for all reading levels, as it really teaches the why behind things and creates a good foundation for your child.