A dozen easy tools to teach your child to read

Manisha Snoyer (www.modulo.app)
4 min readMay 28, 2021

The question families ask me most is how to teach their children how to read. Over the past 20 years, I’ve helped hundreds of families support their children’s learning through a huge variety of tools. Most recently, I did a comprehensive review of over 1000 secular curriculum resources for parents and tested many of them with our students at Modulo.

There were two main takeaways from this process. 1) Every child learns differently. 2) Any parent is perfectly capable of teaching their child to read with little effort.

The first thing I want to emphasize is that it’s not a great idea to force your child to read if they are not ready. In the USA, we often push children to learn to read before they’re ready. This can lead to a lifelong loathing of reading. In other countries, like Finland, it’s common for children to learn to read at age 7 or later. Some developmental psychologists think that it’s not even appropriate for some children to learn to read until they are 10. Lastly, it is estimate that one in five children suffer from dyslexia. So, please don’t push before you understand your little learner.

This obviously part of a larger discussion, but for the time being, if you are looking for extra support teaching your child to read, here are my 10 favorite resources!

  1. Reading by Osmosis. A good number of children can learn to read on their own without help, simply by observing the text on the page as you read aloud to them. A slight danger here is they never develop phonemic awareness, but it’s an easy and wonderful way to read. I write more about how to cultivate this approach to reading here.
  2. Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Other children need more support with phonics. This book is the golden standard when it comes to direct instruction. It’s great for parents who don’t want their kids to have any screen time and have about 5–10 minutes a day to devote to their child’s instruction.
  3. Wild Reading. This is a lovely, nature-based curriculum for families who want to take their reading lessons outdoors, designed by a mother and teacher.
  4. Homer. If Teach your Child to Read is too dry for your child or you don’t have 5 minutes a day to teach them, Learn with Homer is a ridiculously fun app to teach literacy. They’ve also recently expanded to math, social-emotional learning and more.
  5. Nessy. One out of five children suffer from Dyslexia. If your child is dyslexic or you think they might be, Nessy is a great choice. If you’re unsure if your child has dyslexia, Nessy offers a screening tool for $20.
  6. Explode the Code. We also love Explode the Code. Both Nessy and Explode the Code use the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is widely considered the best method for teaching children with dyslexia how to read.
  7. Bob Books. Once your child can sound out 3 letter words, I highly recommend you move on to Bob Books. They have such fun and colorful books to teach reading. Bob Books also offers pre-reading skills. It can be super fun for you and your child to take turns reading aloud.
  8. Epic. After your child has started reading a bit more independently, Epic is an amazing resource full of free books and great critical reading questions. There is a read-to-me feature where the words light up as a speaker reads them (great for learning to read by osmosis.) Many of the boosk also have quizzes to help with critical reading skills. And your child can choose their reading level to make sure they get material they can read. It is a must have for any family who doesn’t mind screen time. Most schools offer a free subscription to Epic. If yours doesn’t, contact us via Modulo and we can put you in our class.
  9. Alphablocks. If your child can’t get enough of shows and youtube videos, the Alphablocks channel is a very fun way to develop phonemic awareness. Make sure to start with level one and proceed level by level. To enhance learning, pause the video each time the letters sound out their names before they say the word so your child can try to guess before they give the answer.
  10. Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun free app from the Usborne foundation. Personally, I find some of the games a bit complicated, but I know many children who love it and have taught themselves to read this way.
  11. Duo Lingo ABC is another fun free app that the Duo Lingo just released to help kids learn to read and is a little more straightforward than Teach Your Monster.
  12. Khan Academy Kids is a wonderful app to learn reading and every other subject. It’s free and for kids ages K-2nd.

If you, like me, get overwhelmed with too many choices, I recommend you start with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Wild Reading or Homer and then move on to Bob Books. Use Nessy if you think your child is dyslexic.

If you take anything else from this, please remember to be patient with your child and not teach them to read before they’re ready. There’s nothing like a boring reading lesson you’re forced to sit through to kill a lifelong love of learning!

We hope you find a resources that works for you! Feel free to contacts us via the Modulo web-site to give us feedback on these recommendations or tell us about another great one you found!

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