Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Beginning Steps to Reading & a Fun Giveaway

image source - Permission to Use

This is my last year with Peanut at home.  {Insert a sad face and tears stinging my eyes.}  Next year he will be following in the footsteps of his big brothers and sister and heading to school.  While it makes me very sad, I am excited for him. 

To begin his last year of preschool I asked him what he wants to learn.  To my surprise, he immediately told me that he wants to learn to read. 

My heart did a flip.  

Of course reading is something that I hope to teach him this year (if he is ready).  But hearing him voice this desire was super cool because we all know that teaching a child something that he wants to learn is so much easier than covering a topic he isn't interested in.

While I am not a reading specialist, I want to share some of the ideas that I have learned along the way of teaching my own children how to read.

Birth to 3 Years
Read.  Read. Read.  And read some more.  I have saturated the ABC Jesus Loves Me Curriculum with quality books because this is the most important thing that you can do for a child at this age; second only to giving him or her a strong biblical foundation. Read.  Read.  Read.  (See our favorite preschool books.)

3 to 5 Years - Phonics

This is the time period when many children begin to realize that letters make up words and that each letter has a sound or two.  Or three. Ugh, the English language! 

Let's use the Introduce/Recognize/Identify Teaching Method to explore this learning:

Introduce:  As Peanut sees or writes the letters "Aa" I repeat "A, /a/, animal" over and over.  I continue to give more words that being with the short-a sound. Alligator, Adam, astronaut, apple. 

Recognize:  When looking at a few letters, I ask him to point to the "letter that begins with an /a/ sound?".  If he is unable to do this, I know we need to work longer on Introducing the concept. 

Identify:  After time, he adds his own words to each letter and automatically tells me the sound of each letter. Again, if he is able to point to the letter but not provide the info on his own, we move back to Recognizing and reinforcement. 

Before I go any further, I want to say one thing.

Some children are ready to read at four years of age.  But just as many are not.  I would love to be vain and say that whether or not my children were ready to read at a young age was a direct reflection of my parenting.   I know that is not true. 

While all four of our children have been exposed to the same learning opportunities in our home, all four began reading at different ages and progressed at a very different rates.  Even now they are all on different reading levels - and the levels don't necessarily correspond with age. 

With each of our children, I have taken clues from them to know if they are ready to read and have not forced the issue until I saw the appropriate development.  Doing so prior to this, I believe, would have been very detrimental to the child.

3 to 5 Years - 1:1 Correlation

Throughout the ABCJLM Curriculum I instruct you to help the child point and count to give meaning to the numbers.  In the education world, this is called one-to-one correlation; showing that one number is equivalent to one "apple" on the sheet. 

Along with this idea is helping the child understand that each group of letters forms a word and a space separates each.  The correlation that one word spoken is equivalent to one set of letters on a page. My son's kindergarten teacher had the students draw a dot above each word to teach the concept. 

Simple, short books like One Sentence Storybooks are also great for teaching this concept.

Based upon the name, these little storybooks are made up of only one sentence, based upon one Bible story.  The sentence is broken down into four parts, adding a section of the sentence per page. 

This is Peanut's favorite from the Bible Heroes Storybooks set. 
The men
The men blew their horns
The men blew their horns and the wall

The mean blew their horns and the wall fell down.
When reading with Peanut, I read aloud and point at the words and then have him repeat after me.  The pointing helps with the 1:1 correlation while repeating helps his memorization and recalling skills.  I know that after reading them only a few times, Peanut will begin reading them himself.  Just one step closer to him reading other books.  Plus, with these books being so short, Peanut feels very proud for completing a story. 

Just a few more points about the One Sentence Storybooks.

- Author Nancy Sanders had a tough job of summarizing an entire Bible story into one sentence.  While some of the wording isn't my first choice, remember that it is just one way to summarize the story.  If your child isn't already familiar with the plot, be sure to pick up a quality children's Bible to put the sentence into context.

- The book concludes with a further learning thought, verse, and prayer.  I wish a few of the verses were a little easier for children to comprehend and more applicable to the book's sentence.  For example, I found it a little strange to read a sentence about the walls falling down and the corresponding verse Psalm 18:29, "With the help of my God I can climb over a wall."

- I really like the "Look Back in the Book" page that concludes the One Sentence Storybooks.  Each time the child is asked to point to an object of a specific color and find a shape.  The last request asks the child to find a word that begins with the same sound as the image given (practicing phonics).  Again there are a few examples that caused me to pause.  Sometimes the images are not easily recognized and instead of the child finding an object to match the phonetic sound, the child was asked to match an object with an adverb like "down."  Unfortunately this happened more than I would have liked so I quickly adjusted and asked a similar question instead of using the idea provided.  Just a little tweaking could have made these all great.


To help you provide a solid foundation for your child in reading and the Bible, Tyndale Kids has kindly allowed me to give away 5 copies of the brand new Bible Heroes One Sentence Storybooks ($15.99).  That's right!  Five of you will be receiving your own copy of the just-released Bible Heroes Storybooks set.  

Click on the rectangular image below to enter.  This giveaway will end on Monday September 7th @ 12:59 p.m (CST).  Winner will be announced September 8th on this blog.


Click to view the winners.

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Click to find more Beginning Reading Ideas on the ABCJLM website.


  1. I'm so glad you said that about how quickly or soon our kids are ready to learn isn't a reflection on my parenting. As a homeschooling mom, I don't want to push my child so hard when she's not ready just so I can feel validated that I'm good at this. The temptation to think that way is surely there though!

    1. Emily - I used to think the same thing but now realize each child has strengths. :)


The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.