Reading Program Need Guidance

My 4.5 year old is desperate to read on her own. We tried All about reading and it just never clicked. We have been trying to do phonics and Bob books but that is working less than All about reading. I feel like I am failing my little girl and it’s very frustrating she is not retaining anything. The weird part is she loves writing and spelling. She can spell a lot of three letter words and can “spell” when I phonetically sound out longer words to her - which is one of her favorite things to do. But she cannot read the words she spells. I wouldn’t be that worried about it if she didn’t tell me all the time how she wants to read by herself.

We used books called Usborne Very First Reader series- our library had lots of the series. It is similar to bob books I think but more engaging. There is a parent-reading page, then a child-reading page for the earliest reading. Good luck! It’ll click soon I bet!

I love Usborne’s learning to read series. I’ve also heard great things about “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons”

Try getting a plain notebook and you actually writing sentences using 3 letter words and some sight words. So on page one in large print (like taking up 3 or 4 ruled lines per letter) write something like. - (the is the sight word, everything else she can sound out)


The cat sat on the mat.
Mom sat on the mat.
Dad sat on the cat.

She could even illustrate what she read. Next day she has to re read page 1 and then add page 2.


The cat and dog play.
(Child’s name) and mom play.
Dad and (child’s name) play.

Same thing let her draw a pic of what she read.
Then day 3, she has to read story 1 and 2, and now 3 - so on and so on.

Also my kids did really well with the Clifford phonics books, the pics are great, the sentences are short, and so far 2 have learned to read starting at age 4 using these things. and when my other 2 hit age 4 I’ll try the same thing with them. It is slow at first but the notebook really helped mine BC they kept seeing the same thing over and over. Hope this helps! And this is the first of many repeating repeating repeating you’ll have to do with these early years. it can be frustrating but hang in there, she’ll get it!


I really liked Reading the Alphabet found on (she is a wealth of information)- it was a very gentle way to introduce your child to reading. It included a daily lesson plan with many activities such as songs to go with sight words provided in the lessons, rhyming activities, counting syllables, a booklet that your child could read for each lesson… The best part it was free!!

She’s probably really close to this clicking for her. I would mainly focus on making tile words for now. Have her make a word she can spell with the tiles, and then model the blending procedure from AAR on that word for her. Do all of the steps:

  • First, point to each letter and say the sounds.
  • Second, draw the finger under the first two letters. Blend those and then point to and say the last sound.
  • Third, draw the finger slowly under all three letters and blend those.
  • Fourth, say it fast or “say it like a word.”

Then let her repeat after you, and praise her.

Play oral blending games. You say the sounds of a word you are thinking of, and then she blends them into a word. Can she guess a word that you mean if you just say the sounds? Do easy 3-sound words first. This is a game that can help develop her blending skills. If she can blend orally, then she is on her way to being able to blend written words.

Practice phonological awareness skills with her–here’s an article on How to Develop Phonological Awareness.

In the Kitchen with the Zigzag Zebra is a free e-book that works on phonological awareness skills.

I wouldn’t worry about her retaining right now or gaining fluency–expect her to need to sound words out over and over. Your goal is just to help her see how to sound out words, and let the fluency come in time. Once she understands more about blending, then you can pick back up with AAR or something else. Just play with tiles and have fun with it. She’ll get there!

Hi! I might suggest heading to the library and letting her pick out some books that interest her that are at her grade level. One thing about reading is that it can be frustrating when you first start, for both you and your child. I’ve found that with all four of our kids, each one suddenly clicked with reading by 2nd grade. Prek-kinder is still learning how to sound out letters, and then blend some of those sounds together. By the end of Kinder she should be able to blend 3 letter words together, but still probably sounding them out like “C-A-T, cat”. Some kids are more advanced and pick it up sooner, but that is about average for what I’ve seen over the years.

By the time they hit first grade they can read, but are usually still sounding out most words they see, some they start recognizing like sight words. They might also often read off pictures, so they’ll say what they “think” the sentence should say based on the picture if there is one. By second grade usually a few months in, they suddenly like overnight, can read without sounding out words.

So I write all of this to say not to get discouraged. If AAR didn’t work for you, maybe try the Abeka phonics and reading. They review sounds and blends daily and so it becomes fairly easy for them to sound out the words. And then read to her a lot, and maybe alternate pages, so you read one page, and she reads the next one. If she’s having a hard time, help her out and move on. Reading can become really frustrating if she doesn’t quite know all of the letters, but don’t worry it will come with repetition, practice, and over time :slight_smile:


Thank you very much for the great suggestions. We just purchased Abeka and we are going to give it a try along with the other great suggestions here.

We love the library - unfortunately we don’t live in the US anymore so we don’t have access to a library. :disappointed:

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Great suggestions. Thank you very much!

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Thank you - I will check out this site!

I do not live in the US but we will be coming back in April. I remember doing a Facebook Usborne sale - are their other ways to purchase usborne books. We love the few we have.

I have not used it, but there is a program that actually teachers reading through spelling (The Writing Road to Reading), which sounds like it might be a good fit for you.

Two other resources that might help…this is an instruction guide on how to teach reading using the Charlotte Mason method. A lot of what it suggests are things I did with my oldest son, who was an early reader.

With my youngest, who struggles with reading, I used a free curriculum…I started when he was at the intermediate level (already reading short words), so I can’t really say how it does for the early level, but its free, so it wouldn’t hurt to try one of their readers:

I also love the Mouse Make Words book…a fun little book that can help with blending.

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Adding to what Erica said, a fun game I liked to play with my kids at this early reading stage, was to make a word, and then have them replace one of the letters and sound out the new nonsense word for them. At each stage I would sound it out, but the sillyness of the words kept it fun.