1st August, 2018

How To Teach Your Child To Read: Awesome Advice and Top Reading Tools!

By Dom G



When you think about teaching your child to read, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most of us it probably brings to mind memories of sitting in front of an alphabet and sounding out each of the letter sounds. This was likely followed by attempting to draw the letters out by hand. All of this was probably done on repeat until you began to remember the sounds and shapes of the letters. Sound like a familiar picture?

This type of reading and writing by rote technique has been practiced for years across many parts of the world, including the UK, and it generally tends to precede any kind of actual reading. Because of course, you need to understand the building blocks before you can understand the words and you need to understand the words before you can write, right? Wrong. Well ok, it’s not completely wrong, but it’s not wholly true either. Researchers from the land of flat-pack furniture and utopian school systems (perhaps unsurprisingly) may have cracked another education myth in recent years.

Expanding on a teaching principle originally developed by a 19th century Italian doctor, Maria Montesorri, researchers and educators in Sweden have shown that learning to write before reading, can have significant benefits to children's reading ability. The group created an integrated Writing to Read (iWTR) program that increased the number of ‘excellent’ student readers by an impressive 20%, whilst students’ writing capabilities (in terms of creativity, structure and clarity of content produced) were assessed as being at the same level as students 2 academic years above, by their teacher. Exciting stuff!

The study mentioned above used interactive technology capable of digitally synthesising speech (think Siri), so children were able to piece together the words they already knew how to say by trialling different letters and hearing their phonetics. Working in pairs they were able to generate stories from their imagination without having to first learn to physically write letters.

Many schools and studies agree that the physical act of writing is a vital factor in activating and coordinating the reading network in the brain and that the skills should be learnt at the same time. However, the Swedish group suggests that the intellectual process of generating ideas, transferring them into digitised words and then sharing and improving them with their classmates are where the major advantages are found, rather than from the act of handwriting. They also suggest that traditional writing should be left until later, allowing children to focus on the creative aspect of turning thoughts into content.

Whilst the Swedish group’s research is yet to be expanded upon, what we do know is that the principles of Writing To Read are likely here to stay for some time and are backed up by a growing amount of evidence.

So, how should you teach your child to read? There’s a wealth of options out there, but we’ve been hard at work researching and questioning our expert Primary tutors to bring you 8 awesome steps to teach your child to read.


★ Jump straight to step #8: Use every reading resource you can find! ★


★ How to teach your child to read: 8 super simple steps! ★

#1: Read aloud to your child everyday!

This may seem like a simple one, but research by Boston Medical School suggests that parental role models that read often and engage with their children through this format have one of the greatest impacts on positive child outcomes.

In a modern world full of tech and too much to do, bedtime stories can easily slip through the net, but they can also be an excellent way of encouraging an interest in reading from an early age. It’s also a pretty lovely way to destress from the day!

As your child gets a little older, you can also try following the words with your finger as you read, allowing an association of sounds with words. Eventually, you can have your child attempt to move their finger along the words to match your reading. This can be a great way to assess their comprehension - there are also a load of apps that can fill a similar role.


#2: Phonics, Phonics and Phonemes

If you’ve not heard of the term before, phonics are basically the backbone of modern literacy education, being both the name of the method of teaching as well as the term used to describe a single sound produced by 2 or more letters, or the sound of a single letter that doesn’t sound like its letter name (i.e. y in sky).

Phonemes are perceptually distinct sounds distinguishing one word from another (i.e. p, b, f, s in pat, bat, fat and sat).

Traditionally, phonics are learnt through repetition and interactive activities like vocalisation and card-matching games, which will gradually become ingrained in the student’s brain and will eventually lead into word decoding.

However, there are an increasing number of alternative approaches based on emerging research, just like the Swedish study we covered earlier. Just so there’s no confusion: just as with any complex system, to understand the sounds that go into reading, children will ultimately have to memorise them. Not all techniques are created equal, however.

There’s a huge amount of publicly available EdTech out there that can gamify phonics, enable children to creatively explore how sounds fit into words and there’s even some apps that closely mimic the program described in the Swedish study. All of them being far more engaging and mentally taxing than simple repetition. We’ve covered off a full list of some of the top phonics apps and resources later on in this article!


#3: Forget reading - start writing!

Ok, so it’s probably worth noting at this point that we don’t expect your kids to be writing novels yet (or even understand what a novel is for that matter). But what you can do is incorporate a variety of motor exercises which studies have shown can increase your child’s capacity to successfully identify letters, words and their corresponding phonics. This also allows children to add another level of understanding to their learning, giving a more holistic view of reading and writing.

Sand or salt trays have been shown to give children a major boost to both confidence and writing ability when used to practice individual letters or numbers. The ability to wipe out mistakes and try again can be hugely beneficial to moving forwards with practice as opposed to seeing the messy mistakes that you might find using paper. This is particularly useful for encouraging children to be ok with their writing mistakes and not to dwell on them, giving them a more positive mindset.

Another excellent activity can be to write stories or sentences out together. You can incorporate this into play by using toys to enable your child to describe what’s happening or things like idea-generating dice. By using ideas and words straight from your child’s imagination it improves confidence and self-esteem, but also encourages an interest in both reading and writing, seeing that they can continuously build on their work.

Using the words your child uses also gives the work a sense of identity and your child a sense of self awareness, which can be further ingrained when returning to the work to edit and extend it. You can go a step further and add illustrations to the work as well.


#4: Practice before bed, reinforce first thing in the morning.

Scientific research has shown across multiple studies that retention of both motor skills (movement) and new information can be increased substantially when performed, or taken in, shortly before bed.

One study in particular has shown that not only can sleep help to improve retention of skills and information when tested the next morning, but that practicing first thing in the morning helps to keep these memories intact throughout the rest of the day.

This basically means that practicing phonics, reading or writing before bed and then during breakfast, or on the way to school can not only help your child to better remember what they’ve learnt in the short-term, but it also helps to stop all the new and exciting information taken in throughout the day from taking its place!

What’s even more exciting about this is that it works for most new skills and training, including musical instruments, revision and sports.


#5: Say, write and learn - Dolch words.

What are Dolch words? Many of you won’t have heard the name before, but you will have come into contact with them in almost every sentence you’ve ever spoken or read. Dolch words are basically some of the most frequently used ‘service words’ in the English language, which are estimated to make up 50-75% of all words in children’s books.

By using some of the techniques suggested earlier in this article to learn Dolch words, you can supercharge your child’s reading ability. With 220 words in the original Dolch lists, learning them all is a pretty manageable target that will make a huge difference to your child’s understanding of text.

Writing sentences or stories together as discussed earlier and using these words as well as specifically picking them out during a bedtime story will really help to reinforce their correct usage.


#6: Have your child read aloud to you every day

Once your little genius has gotten to grips with the basics, the really enjoyable part can begin! Children’s story books, both physical, electronic and app-based are available in their masses and can be selected by age, ability and preference of genre with increasing ease in the modern world of tech, so you can be sure to find something that engages your child the most. We’ve pulled together a list of the most impressive and useful resources on this front later on in the article.

Whatever method you choose to use, you should do your best to ensure that you listen to your child read at least once a day - and yes, this might mean you might have to relinquish control of reading the bedtime story! Studies have shown that parents who show a greater interest in reading and in their child’s activities in general tend to have a positive effect on children’s grades and overall attainment in life - so protect that quality time!

One of the major benefits of this point though is setting up an excellent habit that will eventually take hold regardless of whether you’re there or not. A life-long reading habit has a huge impact on children’s wellbeing as well as increasing the 3 major intelligence types: crystalised (what you know), fluid (your ability to solve problems) and emotional (ability to accurately read and respond to your own and other’s feelings).


#7: Build their confidence with a tutor!

One of the most important factors of learning any skill, but particularly something as vital as reading and writing, is confidence. Confidence is a key component of motivation and motivation is ultimately what is going to drive your child forwards in their learning.

To break it down a little further: confidence is based on self-esteem and self-belief and this forms the foundation of our intrinsic motivation. If we believe that something is achievable then we will more than likely have the motivation to keep plugging away at it.

If you’ve been in contact with any kind of connected device over the past few years, then you’ve more than likely heard of Caroline Dweck and her team’s work on the growth mindset. Fostering this mindset in children can have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and self-belief by helping them to reframe intelligence and ability as a dynamic, rather than static, attribute. It also teaches them to see failure through the lens of opportunity rather than negativity.

Having a tutor who is experienced in teaching literacy skills and who is capable of regularly spending time with your child, reinforcing a growth mindset, can have a huge impact on confidence levels.

In an average 30-child classroom, a teacher has time to give only 10 minutes of individual focus to each child a week, meaning that today’s teachers just don’t have time to build students up. 1 to 1 tuition can fulfil this need by providing an aspirational figure who is there solely for your child and can change the focus of the entire lesson to suit the student’s personal needs.

With research by the Sutton Trust showing that as few as 6 sessions can be enough to boost your child by a whole grade, the benefits speak for themselves. But don’t take our word for it, have a chat with some of our expert Primary, reading and literacy tutors and find out what they can do for you!


#8: Use every reading resource you can find!

Whether your child is just at the beginning of their reading journey or is already confident enough to read some books on their own, there is a wealth of resources out there to help them develop their reading abilities at any stage.

From digital libraries full of thousands of titles, to vocabulary and spelling apps, phonics programs, interactive books and more, we’ve searched far and wide to bring you the top tools for teaching your child to read. Take a look below at these truly awesome resources!


★ Top reading tools and resources! ★


AbiTalk

Started in 2011, AbiTalk was devised by Emmy Chen, a software engineer and entrepreneur turned stay-at-home. Emmy realised that interactive apps could be highly effective for teaching her young son reading and phonics.

AbiTalk’s apps support not only English, but also Chinese learners too. This design choice is inspired by Emmy’s own experiences and background, as she emigrated from China to the United States in order to attend graduate school to study computer science. She learned English in just six months for this!

To date, over 90 apps have been developed for AbiTalk, covering phonics and reading to arithmetic and languages. Every month more are added to the platform, and each app is inspired and tested by Emmy’s son and daughter, so every app is truly kid approved!

Start browsing here

Aesop’s Quest 2

NRCC Games Studio creates games to serve as educational aids for teachers and students. The games provide a way to learn that’s fun and engaging for students, and is named after the fables from the titular storyteller.

Aesop’s Quest focuses on reading comprehension to develop cognitive reading skills, and the touch mechanic of the game engages the child players in a hands-on learning process. The level of reading comprehension can be tuned for the equivalent grade level of the learner, based on excerpts from reading materials appropriate to that level.

NRCC Games Studio is located at the New River Community College in Christiansburg, Virginia, and the games are created by the colleges students and funded purely through the app’s revenue.

Check it out!

AlphaTots

Spinlight develop apps with fun at the forefront, and AlphaTots Alphabet is no exception! The app introduces kids to their ABCs with colourful graphics, interactive minigames and even songs. The upper and lower-case forms of each letter are displayed, and children can learn its sound and launch a mini game that hooks their engagement. The games are failure-free and can be tweaked to prevent accidental touches, so frustrations arising from developing motor skills are eliminated and learning is maximised.

The app features 26 minigames, one for each letter of the alphabet, along with an interactive alphabet that kids can use to recite their ABCs any time and no third-party apps, so parents can confidently leave their child without fearing for their bank account!

Take a look here

B-InspiredMama


As a former art teacher turned work-at-home mom of three, Krissy deeply understands the struggle so many moms have juggling their busy lives with their desire to raise well-rounded, creative kids. To help those fellow mamas, Krissy authors the B-InspiredMama blog where she shares inspiration for kids’ crafts, learning fun, family-friendly recipes, and creative parenting.

We all learn in different ways, and some children may need more stimulation than others. For kids who need more colourful, hands on approaches to learning, a source of inspiration and creativity such as B-InspiredMama could be just what you need to devise crafty ways to help your child learn how to read.

Find out more

BBC Bitesize

Bitesize has been going strong for 20 years since its launch in 1998, and in all that time it has a stayed an invaluable free service to help students of all key stages in learning and revision.

Bitesize Literacy has games and interactive exercises to teach phonics, spelling, punctuation, rhyming and more, offering a wide breadth of topics to further children’s reading comprehension.

There are also worksheets to accompany each game as a free download, giving you a free resource to help learners along the way and test their comprehension.

Take a look

Bookly

Bookly tracks everything about reading, so parents as well as teachers can easily see how the children evolve over time and monitor everything about their reading level, time spent, reading speed and pages read. It shows tons of statistics as well as beautiful graphics to better understand reading. After you do finish a book, you can generate a nice infographic to share on social media or just to collect them.

Bookly focuses on making readers feel a sense of reward for finishing books, and in turn, reading becomes its own reward. You can also set goals to make reading a daily workout for your brain, and it even has an achievement system. If you want a young reader to make reading a habit, then Bookly is a great place to start.

Check it out!

Brightly

Brightly started as a website to help parents raise readers and has grown into an engaged community that also includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, librarians, teachers, and others who are passionate about cultivating a love of books and reading in children.

The Brightly team takes pride in working with a diverse group of contributors and authors who cover a range of topics for readers of every age and stage. The site offers a wide variety of reading tips and book recommendations—from seasonal to evergreen, age-based to level-set—incorporating the voices of experts from across the kids’ book landscape.

Recent additions to the site’s offerings include “Teach Brightly”, a space on the homepage where educators can easily access relevant content and a Facebook group for educators that goes by the same name.

Start learning here!

Children’s Books and Reading

Children’s Books and Reading is a fantastic resource for practical tips and techniques to help your child grow into a confident and successful reader, and their advice is backed by proven methods. They focus not only on helping a child to learn to read, but also to help young readers understand what they are reading, and to be motivated to read.

There are also reading-related activities to reinforce literacy skills, book suggestions to inspire you and your child, and topical news to keep you up-to-date with the literary world.

The site’s owner, Stephanie, was motivated by her own experiences in learning to read, and after having her first of two sons she wanted to know more about teaching a confident young reader. This website is the culmination of her ongoing mission, so check it out!

Get reading!

Children’s Storybooks

Children’s Storybooks Online was created in 1996, and quickly gained recognition in the form of a four-star rating by NetGuide’s Best of the Web in 1997. It has since been featured in Yahoo magazine and been distributed on CD ROM in U.S. schools.

The stories hosted on the website are all original and illustrated by Carol Moore, and the first story to be featured on the site, The Littlest Knight, took her two years to completely illustrate. The stories are varied for ages ranging from children up to young adults, and there are also riddles, mazes, and colouring book pages to entertain and amuse.

The books have all been written by a variety of authors and are completely free to read on the site, giving you the perfect place to find some free material if you want to get your children reading colourful, trustable material!

Take a look

Choice of the Dragon

The ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’-style stories are true classics for retro fantasy fans, and they’re still a popular novelty today!

Choice of Games LLC produce text-based, multiple choice games that can be played in your browser or downloaded for smartphones. The games are based around rich, original stories that draw players and get them invested in the narrative in the way that only interactive gameplay can.

Choice of Games have also developed an original scripting language named ChoiceScript, which budding writers can use to write their own games in the same style. If you have an avid gaming fan who struggles to latch onto conventional stories, give this a try!

Start your adventure!

Epic!

Epic! was born out of a single question: How do we make books more accessible to kids?

The team behind Epic! have observed the way that videos and games on phones and tablets are always so effective at grabbing kids’ attentions, but books seem to struggle meeting the same success.

Today, Epic! has grown into the leading digital library for kids aged 12 and under, with literally thousands of books, videos, quizzes, and more! It’s a subscription-based service, costing just $7.99 a month, but with a free month to start off with – and it’s free for librarians and elementary school teachers!

Check it out

FarFaria

FarFaria is a storybook world just waiting to be explored!

Stories are presented as locations on an interactive map that kids and parents can traverse together, and saving books into your favourites means they can be accessed anytime and anywhere in a tablet or smartphone.

Every book also has a ‘Read-To-Me’ option, providing high-quality narration for younger readers who need help with their comprehension or who want to enjoy the story on their own. Reading before bed has proven benefits that extend into adulthood, so parents looking to instil the habit in their child have a fantastic tool at their disposal with FarFaria. Also, you can start for free!

Try it out

FocusandRead.com

FocusandRead specialises in helping struggling readers, creating learning tools based on evidence obtained from research studies.

Joan Brennan is an experienced educator who, in the past, employed sensory reading aids such as focus cards for her middle school classroom. Many of her students struggled with conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, autism and other conditions that hindered their ability to focus and read. She found that many of her readers improved with notable success in the form of improved reading rates, better focus and fluency, and more.

Recently, the site has published a new Windows 10 version of their Reading Focus Cards desktop app alongside the existing customisable versions of the app for Apple Macs and other Windows PCs.

Find out more

Hip Hop Hen Phonics

Hip Hop Hen apps were launched in 2014, and soon were featured on the Kid’s section of the app store. Their first three educational apps are part of a complete phonics reading scheme, and are specially built to introduce children to hear, read and write early phonics sounds in an easy, fun imaginative way.

The phonics apps are created by teachers and follow national curriculums, addressing key early learning skills such as finishing rhyming sentences, identifying sounds in words for reading, speaking and listening, and many more.

Each app is designed with a gorgeous and colourful doodle art style, and Hip Hop Hen are a Moms with Apps member, meaning they follow the best privacy practices for kids’ apps and personal information is never shared or connected to social media.

Hop on over!

Homer

Homer is a learn-to-red program that starts with what makes your child unique. Begin, the company behind Homer, believe that children become strong and confident readers when they use literacy to explore their passions and interests.

Once Homer makes a note of the child’s current reading level , it creates a personal learning plan tailored to them, supplied by a catalogue of interactive stories and songs. Homer has blind, randomised studies to back up its efficiency, and can increase early learning scores by as much as 74%. Their research and white papers are available on the website to access and browse, as is the opportunity to try it for free!

Get started here

International Children’s Digital Library

The ICDL Foundation’s goal is to build a collection of books that represent the literary culture of peoples throughout the world.

The ease and accessibility of travel in the modern age means that people can now emigrate from far across the world to a new location, but the costs of such a move often include the books and publications of their native tongue. A paper published in 2005 by UNESCO declared: “Denial to access to information in one's mother tongue is equivalent to a denial of a human right.”

The International Children’s Digital Library allows books to be searched by country, giving visitors an easy way to find free reading material written in their mother tongue and read for free!

Visit them here

JumpStart

JumpStart Blast-Off: Early Reading helps children learn the key reading skills needed early on so they can blast through correct answers and zap away the incorrect ones as they race for the top score. Within this app, the player can explore a mysterious cavern packed with reading skills that are fun and educational at the same time!

The game itself features 19 lessons designed to teach pivotal early reading skills by focusing on the beginning phonics and early reading so kids can master the skills to excel in school. Children will develop crucial educational skills such as word recognition and sounds, early grammar classification, and more. Through listening and interacting with words, elementary school learners will enjoy a comprehensive reading and learning experience.

Check it out

Literacy Central

Literacy Central is a free resource by Reading Is Fundamental, a literacy non-profit who are committed to building a literate America.

There are reading activities and advice for parents to get children reading at home, and book and development resources for educators. RIF also have upcoming tools such as a literacy tracker to monitor reading progress and suggest further reading based off of interests.

RIF have a newsletter to keep you abreast of new additions to the site and a smartphone app which can scan a book’s barcode and link to thousands of digital resources tied to that title. Sign up for a free account and give it a try!

Have a browse

Monkey Junior Learn-to-Read

Monkey Junior is packed with content, sitting at over 1000 lessons comprising 30 topics, 3000 sentences and more!

The program teaches through a combination of two methods, the phonics method and the whole-word method. With the phonics method, children look at letters either individually or in groups and recognise the sounds, then blending them together to form a full word. By taking this forward and reapplying it, children can read and pronounce new words that they haven’t encountered before.

Backed by the professional opinions of language experts, Monkey Junior builds lessons that provide the optimal route for learners to form words, recognise whole words and phrases and learn proper pronunciation.

Take a look!

Montessori Letter Sounds

Montessori Letter Sounds is an app that works in four steps, aimed at four increments between ages 3 – 5. Two of the games are locked at first and have to be earned as children play, ensuring they learn progressively.

The games encourage children’s abilities to memorise letter sounds and shapes and to write out their first words using a moveable alphabet. There is also a ‘Toolbox’, in which there’s a phonetic alphabet, notebook, and sandbox where kids can freely trace and practise letters.

The app has been featured by Apple and Common Sense Media, as well as winning a Parents Choice Gold Medal 2012 award. The developer, EDOKI, is made up of certified teachers who aim to make truly educational apps that are as useful as possible for parents and learners.

Learn more here

Mr Thorne Does Phonics

20 million YouTube views around the world have now helped associate Mr Thorne Does Phonics, Mr Thorne and Geraldine the Giraffe with high-quality educational content that is enriching for young learners and additionally useful for adult learners, children with special educational needs, correctional educational programmes, trainee teachers and those with English as a second language.

Via a virtual platform to teach around the world, Mr Thorne utilises the synthetic approach to teaching phonics, focusing on the units of sounds as building blocks for reading through the word, blending individual phonemes to unlock language, so that 'learning to read' becomes 'reading to learn’.

Tune in here!

MrNussbaum.com

MrNussbaum.com offers over 300 levelled printable and online informational text-reading comprehension passages, and multiple-choice question sets for kids aged 7-13.

Created by a current public-school teacher with experience in grades 2-6, these exercises include interesting passages on science, maths, and social studies topics and serve as perfect practice for state-mandated standardised tests. Most of the online exercises offer text narration, font adjustment, highlighting, immediate feedback, and printable reports that detail exactly what questions were answered correctly and incorrectly.

For assessing the progress of your kid’s reading comprehension, these tests are an ideal resource for parents and teachers.

Try them out here

MrsPerkins.com

MrsPerkins Dolch Words is a website that provides resources for educators and parents to teach Dolch words to their students and kids.

Dolch words are named after a 1948 book named ‘Problems in Reading’ by Edward William Dolch, in which a list of over 200 ‘service words’ and a separate list of 95 common nouns was published. These lists are thought to contain between 50% and 75% of words that appear in children’s books. By learning these words, kids are equipped to recognise the majority of words that occur in children’s literature.

The resources on MrsPerkins.com include classroom forms, games, worksheets and more, so try it out and see how many new words your child might learn!

Check it out

PhonicBooks

PhonicBooks is a small company founded in 2006 by Wendy Tweedie, Tami Reis-Frankfort and Clair Baker. All being special needs teachers, they shared a passion for helping all children to learn to read, and they utilised their expertise to develop phonic reading books.

PhonicBooks cater for bother beginner and older, struggling readers in need of catching up. The range of books on offer has exploded from its initial 10 titles to over 298 and climbing, all fuelled by customer demand! 40 countries worldwide use their books as well as the U.K., and they have earned a reputation for quality and effectiveness in that time.

Available books are listed on the site with prices and details of the story content, and titles are separated according to appropriate age level. For older readers in need of catching up, these books are ideal as a discreet, home-accessible alternative to extra support at school where learners may be reluctant to appear that they’re ‘falling behind’.

Find out more

Pocket Phonics

Used in over 1000 schools and pre-schools since its conception, Pocket Phonics teaches kids letter sounds, first words, and handwriting. Research has shown that kids learn nine times as fast when using the app as they do in a regular classroom lesson.

Pocket Phonics doesn’t just teach the individual letter sounds, but it also teaches the sounds from combinations such as ‘sh’, to make a total of over 60 sound combinations. It also teaches writing, using an arrow on screen to guide the children’s fingers as they follow.

Students can even receive achievement certificates and weekly progress reports can be sent via email, so parents and teachers can keep track.

Why not take a look?

PrimaryGames.com

One of the fastest growing fames companies on the internet, Primary Games has been providing entertainment to web-surfing young’uns since 2000! Originally founded by teacher Susan Beasley, the company has grown over the following years from a small project to a bustling hub of amusement with millions of users worldwide.

Several thousand individual games are currently on the site, with more always coming in. What started out as Susan building her own educational games for the kids in her classroom has grown into a huge collection of titles to help kids wind down, hook their attention, and grab their engagement in ways that conventional exercises just sometimes can’t achieve.

Hop on and play!

ReadAskChat

ReadAskChat is a digital library for parents to share with their children and support their reading journey as it begins.

Their name refers to the central ethos of their service: parents reading alongside their children as a shared activity; listening and responding when the child asks questions, to develop confidence in their thoughts and a stronger family bond; and chatting to share ideas and help your children build them up.

The platform also features helpful additions such as conversation starters, engagement metrics and reminders, and activities to aid development and introduce some play into the process of reading.

Find out more

Reading Bear

Reading Bear is a project of WatchKnowLearn.org, and boasts an innovative approach to teaching early readers vocabulary, new concepts, and phonetics. Everything is as free as it is lovingly crafted!

Each presentation is playable as either a video or an interactive slideshow. In each, at least one phonics rule is introduced, with seven different versions for each presentation. In the fullest, for instance, a word is sounded out slowly and quickly, then blended slowly, and after an optional prompt, blended quickly. As the sounds are made, the corresponding letters are highlighted.

Visual aids are also used, such as relevant pictures that help comprehension. The process is thorough, but forgiving and well-paced, giving an in-depth introduction to new vocabulary.

Try it out!

Reading BrightStart!

BrightStart! began in 2005 via funding from The Nemours Foundation, and represents Nemours’ understanding that there is a strong link between child health and reading ability.

The site’s activities and recommended books are informed by research and partnerships, and they show a confident knowledge in everything they do concerning child reading skill. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the site is the Preschool Reading Screener for children aged 3-5, which results in an action plan based on your next best moves to help your child learn to read.

With developmental milestones also offered with suggestions to help each parent introduce confident reading to their child, this is one resource that any mother or father should be keen to take a look at!

Check them out

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is used by more than 12,000 schools worldwide and turns learning to read into a series of fun games and activities.

The idea behind the program is to build on what kids already know, encouraging them to learn through play with the user’s subscription granting access to games, songs and more. There is also an online library and other sites and programs to access.

Memorable characters are consistent throughout the child’s learning journey whilst using Reading Eggs, and parents can get updates and reports sent through so that they can keep an eye on their child’s learning. Reading Eggs boasts more than 10 million child learners worldwide, so what are you waiting for?

Take a look

Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is an online program, using the Phonics-PLUS decoding system.

Created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world’s top experts in reading, Reading Kingdom is research based and adapts to every child. Kids are also able to use the program without supervision, meaning the desire to learn and read can be modelled and then acted upon independently.

The principle of the program is that educators have heavily relied on phonics to teach reading in the past, but many words cannot easily or effectively be ‘sounded out’. Reading requires more skills than phonics alone can teach, but programs such as Reading Kingdom can help support the gaps in a learner’s education and give them the kind of support they need.

Find out more

Reading Raven

Reading Raven is a customisable app for children ages 3 – 7, guiding them on the journey of learning to read so that they become independent and confident in their abilities.

From reading, recognising, and tracing letters to identifying and building words and sentences, Reading Raven takes kids from the earliest steps to fully fledged reading comprehension. The interactive nature of the app also teaches hand-eye coordination and listening skills, helping children make connections between spoken and written language.

Take a look at their website and download the parent and teacher guide to find out more!

Get started here

Reading Rockets

A comprehensive and jam-packed site bursting with resources, blogs, advice pieces and more, everything you need to help a young reader whether they’re on track or struggling.

Reading Rockets creates and disseminates free, evidence-based information about reading through television programs on PBS and via their website. Their mission is to take evidence from research invested into by the U.S. government, turn it into practical information and advice, and spread it to as many people as possible.

Even if you have some simple questions about helping a child to read or what you might encounter on the way, this site is full of good advice and makes for a worthy bookmark in your browser!

Visit them here

ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink offer topical and researched reading-related resources for parents and educators. Their mission is to provide access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction in the form of free materials.

They are also supported by the International Literacy Association, a membership organisation dedicated to internationally supporting the efforts of children everywhere to learn how to read.

To stay on the cutting edge of the reading world and get top advice from trustworthy sources, you want to keep up-to-date with ReadWriteThink!

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School Zone

School Zone have a wealth of products available to give kids a big boost to their reading and information retention abilities.

Amongst their range is an old classic, the tried and true flash cards! Flash cards may seem outdated in this information age, but they’re a quick, easy, and portable resource to test a child’s knowledge and memory wherever you are.

School Zone also supply software, toys and games, and even tablets like the Little Scholar, which comes preloaded with over 70 educational apps, and is ready with or without Wi-Fi and has a reporting app for parents!

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Smart Kidz Club Reading

Smart Kidz are one of the fastest growing collections of eBooks & educational resources for young readers, and they provide a library of interactive resources, eBooks, activities, and quizzes that can be accessed anytime, anywhere online or on mobile devices.

All of their books and resources are beautifully illustrated, and their content can be synced offline onto mobile devices. This provides kids with a safe and ad-free environment for reading, learning, and fun.

Join them in their mission is to help promote affordable education that is easily accessible to all kids around the world.

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SmartyGames

SmartyGames is a free, friendly, and kid-safe site that has been hosting games for over eight years, and is still going strong!

Their reading section includes animated ABCs, action-word flashcards, and short stories to engage your kid’s attentions and help them learn in a colourful and appealing format. Most are Flash-based but are being redesigned to be mobile friendly, so parents have free and convenient access to a bit of fun out and about.

The site is Kid-Safe certified and approved by the Association for Library Service to Children, so you know it’s also safe for your child to use on their own.

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Starfall

Starfall Education Foundation is a publicly supported non-profit organisation, and they opened the Starfall website in 2002 as a free public service.

Still going strong in 2018, they combine a systemic, phonics-based approach with audiovisual interactivity. As well as the free resources available, they also offer a membership program for a small fee, which expands the content to include songs and reading activities spanning several key stages.

As well as all that, the Starfall Parent-Teacher Centre has worksheets, informative guides, curriculum downloads and more!

Dive in here!

Storyline Online app

Storyline Online receives over 100 million views every year from children worldwide, and for good reason!

Storyline Online is a product of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, a non-profit organisation that relies on grants and donations to fund Storyline Online and all of its videos. The videos are all available to stream from the site, and they even feature prolific actors reading children’s books alongside original animations, including Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Betty White.

Each book has a run time and suggested level of ability, so you know you’re picking the appropriate title for your child.

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Teach Your Monster To Read

Teach Your Monster to Read is an extremely fun video game that kids love to engage with. What could be more fun that creating your own monster and taking it on a magical journey?

Children learn to read by teaching their monster to read, and the game has been designed in collaboration with leading academics from the University of Roehampton. These experts have ensured that the BAFTA-nominated game complements synthetics phonics programs used in schools and is pedagogically sound. This makes it easy for parents and teachers to trust, and makes sure children are learning the right letter sounds at a pace that's right for them.

As part of The Usborne Foundation, their mission is to help as many children learn to read as possible. The game has now been played 60 million times, and it can only grow from here!

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ThisReadingMama

ThisReadingMama’s ultimate goal to provide encouragement by way of hands-on learning activities and helpful tips and resources. If you are a parent, home-schooler, classroom teacher, or tutor in the preschool or elementary ages, you’re in the right spot!

The site’s owner, Becky Spence, has a passion for all things related to reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, and phonics, and she has a special place in her heart for struggling readers.

If you subscribe on the site, her resources come directly to your inbox once or twice a week and you get exclusive offers and free printables that no one else can access. There are also tons of free printables, so why not take a look!

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uKloo

The uKloo app combines just the right amount of silly with the right amount of educational value to create a fun reading experience for children. Tested and awarded for children of all abilities, the uKloo Early Reader App is a fun seek-and-find literacy game for ages four and up. It encourages independent learning as kids to look up word clues, search the play screen and discover surprises along the way! There’s even a picture helper to look up words when kids get stuck.

The uKloo app’s engaging animations offer a fun reading experience that gets kids’ reading without even realising it, and it progressively builds sight reading, introduces research skills, builds confidence, and promotes independent learning and play.

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Word Wizard

Word Wizard allows children to experiment with word building in order to understand how it works. Studies have shown that children have to learn letter sounds (phonics) and then learn that words are just a blending of the letters sounds.

This is what Word Wizard allows children to do; when a letter is touched on-screen, the letter sound is pronounced, and in the sandbox, when any letters are put to together using the mobile alphabet, the resulting sound is pronounced thanks to an advanced text to speech engine (even if the corresponding word does not exist).

Word Wizard also offers three spelling activities of increasing complexity. In each activity, after selecting a word list, each word is pronounced and the child has to build the word with the correct spelling using the talking mobile alphabet.

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Words for Life

As a parent, you can make all the difference to your child’s communication skills. Helping children to communicate will help them develop good relationships, do well at school and be confident and happy.

Words for Life gives parents an idea of what communication milestones their baby and child might reach as they grow. There are ideas for fun activities you can do together to help your children develop their skills, as well as tips from top authors, recommended reads, competitions, and more!

The website is divided into sections according to appropriate age ranges.

Have a browse now


Reading is a gift that every child deserves and which we can all help to give to our children, so however you choose to go about teaching it, you can be sure that the journey is truly worthwhile! 

Already got the basics covered? Check out our awesome editorial on The Top 100 Children's Books of 2018 to get them inspired and boost your child's literacy levels through the roof!

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