I introduced JJ to letter sounds by pointing letters out to him. I never called the letters by name. I always called the letters by their phonetic sound. JJ had letters on his wall that we would point to daily.
We also used the ABC magic app from Preschool University. James was non verbal due to speech regression and the app helped his speech immensely.
Several months before his second birthday I had purchased the Preschool Prep Meet the Phonics- Letter Sounds DVD. JJ watched it a few times but at this point it was redundant because he already knew all those letter sounds.
So we moved onto blending CVC words. We really liked the Bob Books apps. These apps also helped with speech.
For Christmas JJ received Meet the Sight Words 1 DVD. He watched it almost daily. Within a month he was able to select the correct word out of three when asked. I then purchased the Preschool Prep Meet the Sight Word Flash Cards and Game apps. JJ mastered the rest of the sight words by 26 months.
At this point in time we didn’t know how much JJ could read because he still had very limited speech. We knew he could sound out CVC words. But I don’t believe he knew what the word was. The only time he really spoke was when he was playing Meet the Sight Word apps. He would read the words said in the app almost flawlessly.
One day I tested him by holding up cards with the sight words on them. He was able to read them all back to me with no hesitation.
I then tired to have James read a few “easy” high frequency readers and phonics readers, including Bob Books. We didn’t make any progress.
So we tried the Preschool Prep sight word readers 1, 2, 3 and everything just clicked! He was reading page after page. He would hesitate on an unfamiliar word and wait for me to fill in the word. Or sometimes he would use context clues.
By about 34 months JJ had ventured beyond the Preschool Prep readers. He started devouring a lot of early guided reading books. We were borrowing about 20 of them a week from our library. Not all leveled books are created equally. And levels are not consistent across different publishers. There was a bit of trial and error finding JJ’s reading sweet spot. Not too easy, not too hard.
We read every Biscuit book in our library. Then it was Noodles or Henry and Mudge. JJ chose dog books a lot. When we found a character JJ enjoyed we read every book we could find with that character.
We read the books several times, but not enough times for JJ to memorize a book.
JJ was reading to me at least 30 minutes a day. I continued to read to him for another 30 minutes.
Series of readers we liked.
We Both Read I love this series. On one side of the book the parent reads more elaborate text. The child reads simplified text on the opposite page. James really loved The Tan Van and The Old Blue Hat
Hello Reader, I Can Read, My Very First Reading Series by Usborne and Phonics Readers also by Usborne.
At this point in time JJ was a strictly a sight word reader. Albeit he knows hundreds, possibly thousands of sight words. He was learning words as he read them. And he was reading a lot and learning a lot of words. Phonics instruction was halted because it only caused frustration. During this time James learnt to figure out words by context and chunking. He learnt many suffixes like ing, ed and s.
JJ is now a solid 1st grade reader. He still relies on sight word reading method. But we have reintroduced phonetics instruction. We will start using Reading Bear again. He is able to read unfamiliar CVC words by sounding out. We are now working on more advanced phonics rules.
We still read readers. But we don’t limit ourself to them. JJ enjoys reading a variety of picture books. Check out his current favourites here.
I had noticed about 6 months ago that JJ could read upside down. But it was much to my surprise one day when I learnt that he was able to read words backwards. The librarian had written the word gnirps on the board at storytime and JJ yelled out “Spring!”
Below is JJ reading a 4th grade level book. The Story of Trains. It is extremely challenging for him. But he loves the content, so he wants to read it. We have been slowly working through this books this week.