Your child may be frustrated from constantly being corrected. You may be frustrated from constantly correcting your child. Your child is going to make some mistakes; that is part of learning to read. Some children are used to being corrected so often that they look up after every word to see if they were right or wrong. This not only interferes with understanding the text, but stops children from enjoying reading. Does this mean that the child never “sounds out” words? No, you can have the child practice difficult words before doing the reading. The following method will minimize correction and frustration and teach children to read fluently with books they enjoy.

How to Begin

Children learn to read by reading a book orally. They see, pronounce, and hear the words, which helps them remember words. As listeners, they are able to hear the rhythm of fluent reading. Following are two types of books to look for specifically for beginners.

Predictable, Easy Readers

Go to the book store or library and ask for the pre-primer and primer book sections for children. The pre-primers will be the easiest, because they have many pictures. Start with easier books and look for these features in the predictable readers:

  • With predictable readers, children have easy-to-read short stories.
  • The pictures in the readers tell the stories.
  • Repeated phrases help children follow and understand the story lines, e.g., The Three Pigs (“I’ll huff and I’ll puff …”) Jack and the Beanstalk (“Fee, Fi, Fo Fum …”)
  • Repeating the words helps put them into long-term memory.
  • Often, they include rhyme. Rhyming helps with understanding how words work; he, she, tree, three.

Series Books

Series books work well with this method because the books are sequenced from easy to more difficult. Some examples are:

  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (Grade Level: .5 – 2.0), Harper Collins
  • Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel (Primer plus), Scholastic
  • Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Grade Level 2.0 – 3.0), Yearling
  • Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel (Grade Level 2.0 – 3.2), Scholastic

How it Works

After obtaining several books, here are five steps that, if practiced, will not only help alleviate the frustration for both parent and child, but will make learning to read a joyful endeavor for both of you.

Step 1: Tracking (following under the words)

To begin, sit across from the child, tracking on top of the words while he or she tracks under the words as you read. After the child is able to track, sit next to him or her.

Step 2: Introduce the Book

For beginner books, first go through the book’s pictures and discuss what the book might be about. Link the book’s subject to information the students know. For example, if there is a picture of a park, ask “Have you been to a park?” or “What kinds of things do you see in a park?” For higher-level reading books, discuss pictures and chapter titles.

Step 3: Reading to the Child
  • For short books, pre-primer, and primer, read the whole book. For longer books, divide the book into parts.
  • For the first reading, read at a slow pace, but not so slow as to lack expression.
  • Read each page and have the child read the word, phrase, or sentence right after you.
  • For the second reading, read the same text at a regular pace with expression.
  • The child continues to track under the words as you read.
Step 4: Reading with the Child
  • The child reads the words and phrases with you and tracks under the words.
  • After practice, the child reads alone. You read words that are difficult for the child, and he continues reading.
  • Do not stop to sound out the words. The child sees you as a helper, and the goal is fluent reading.
  • After practice, the child should be able to read 70 percent or more of the words correctly. Make reading adjustments as necessary.
  • After the child has read a few books successfully, he or she should be able to read 90 percent or more of the words correctly.
Step 5: Read with Expression

Reading with expression is important. As you show interest and enthusiasm when you read, children learn to do the same. Children also become more fluent in their reading when they read with expression. This is especially important for children who read word-by-word. Reading with expression also helps with understanding a story and brings out the thrill of reading. There is something thrilling about the vibration of sounds that come from a good book.

Editor’s Note: Matthew Glavach is the teacher for Reading Remedies at SchoolhouseTeachers . com.


  1. Thogmartin, M.B. (2003). Teaching a child to read with children’s books. 93. ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication.

Copyright 2017, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

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