Our favorite Learn-to-Read Resources for Emerging and Beginning Readers!

Are you just getting started at teaching/supporting your child in his/her learn-to-read journey?

In this page, you’ll find different tools, resources and materials that will help your kid build those first key literacy kills!

The resources in this page are classified by:

  • The stage your child is at (for instance, learning letters and sounds, or developing blending skills)
  • The specific needs you or your child may have (kinetic learner, play-based learning, structured lessons, struggling readers, etc.)
Many of these skills are taught in kindergarten and during the first couple of years of reading instruction , but we don’t like to classify them by age group, as every child is different!
 

Apps, beginner readers books, literacy curricula, posters and flashcards, awesome word lists…

No matter what you are looking for, we’ve got you covered! 

NOTE: We know there are way too many options, and many of them are not even good or based on the right principles for learning to read! We stand by a phonics-based approach to teaching reading, that focuses on the development of Phonemic Awareness, learning letter sounds and letters in a systematic way, and prompting children to blend the sounds as the strategy to go when they are reading (not looking for cues in the pictures or the context)

Also, don’t forget to check out at our “free learn-to-read materials” page, as we also have many beginner readers materials in there.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Learning letter names and letter sounds

 

This is a selection of recommended materials to help you at the stage of teaching letters and their sounds to your child or students.

As you can see,  there isn’t anything too fancy or extravagant here. Just simple (but powerful) tools! That’s all!

You may even have some of these things already at home!

If you just want the bare minimum, then maybe just go for the alphabet cards and something to write with and on!

 Apart from pencil and paper (by the way, check our recommendation for good-grip pencils!), we really like using whiteboards as well! 

Children LOVE them and REALLY help them learn!

The rest of the materials (especially letter magnets!) are a great addition to your array of tools for teaching letter names and letter sounds. Pick the ones that you think will be more suitable for your child’s learning style (for instance, play-dough letters for kinetic learners).

Alphabet cards

When getting alphabet cards, make sure that there is at least one side with the letters standing alone by themselves. This way your child won’t be able to rely on visuals. 

Alphabet Flash Cards for Toddlers: Teach Toddler ABC Letters & Words, 52 Double-Sided Uppercase and Lowercase Letters Cards - Preschool Learning

Letter magnets

Possibilities are endless with these letter magnets.  Besides,  letter magnets allow children manipulate and touch the actual shape of the letters, which helps them learn kinetically.

FOOZZILLA Magnetic Letters and Numbers Kit 286 Pcs with Double Side Magnetic Board - Foam Alphabet Letters for Kids Learning ABC and Classroom Educactional Spelling with Storage Box

Whiteboard

Working on a whiteboard engages multiple senses (visual, sensory, motor) for a more holistic learning experience.  This also helps your child develop physical dexterity and control. 

Double Sided Wooden Art Easel for Kids Standing Magnetic Whiteboard Chalkboard Small Toddler Toys. Includes Wooden ABC Numbers. Eco Friendly

Magnetic Letter Tiles

Possibilities are also endless with letter tiles. First, use them for letter recognition and identification. Later on, practice spelling, letter manipulation,  word-building, and  more!

Really Good Stuff Vinyl Magnetic Letters with Alphabet Storage Case – Make Spelling, Phonics, Vocabulary Fun & Interactive – With Lowercase and Uppercase Letters, 28-Compartment Case, Letter Stickers

Letter mat

Learn while having fun! You will be able to play lots of different literacy games with a letter mat, like this one. Besides, it will create safe play area for children and toddlers.

Click N' Play, Alphabet Foam Play Mat for Baby, Toddler, & Kids - Soft ABC Mat with 36 Interlocking Pieces

Kinetic Experiences

A great kinetic activity to learn about the letters. Young children will learn about letters and practice letter formation using play foam. Beautiful/ colorful with really good reviews.

Educational Insights Playfoam Shape & Learn Letter Sounds: Flash Card Set, Preschoolers Learn to Write, Sensory Toys, Ages 3+

Good-grip pencil for beginner writers

These fat triangle-shaped pencil are fantastic for achieving correct pencil-grip. If your child struggles with holding the pen correctly, give these pencils are try!

STEAMFLO Learning Pencils for Toddlers 2-4 Years – Our Kids Pencils for Beginners Toddlers and Preschoolers with Jumbo Triangle Shape are Specially Designed Triangle Pencils (12 Pack)

Interactive poster to learn the letters

Interactive poster to learn letter names and sounds. Touch the letters to hear the letter name, the letter sound, words starting with that letter and little songs, for extra fun.

LEARNING BUGS Press to Learn Phonics, Interactive Letters and Sounds Talking Poster, Preschool & Kindergarten Learn to Read, Ages 3+

Play dough letter shape

This is another kinetic set (this time using play dough, instead of play foam) to use manipulate and experience letter shapes with our own hands. Very popular and lots of fun.

Play-Doh Shape and Learn Letters and Language

Stickers incentive chart

It is always a good  idea to reward your kid for his/her accomplishments!  Apart from for words of encouragement, children get extremely motivated by stickers! Don’t give away stickers away so easily though!

Set some clear objectives (with a young child it can be as “simple” as  listening to you throughout the entire lesson)

66 Pack Classroom Incentive Chart in 2 Designs with 2024 Star Stickers for Classroom Teaching or Family Using

VTech ABC Learning Apple 

Interactive learning take-along toy to introduce preschoolers to letters, letter sounds, phonics, memory skills and time concepts.

Music, lights and songs make it fun for children! Not too loud for parents (also has a turn on/turn off button) as children will probably be playing for a while with this toy. 

VTech Alphabet Apple,Red

Alphabet Bingo Games

A classic game that still works! A sneaky way to introduce extra literacy time!

I like this simple version of bingo, as it  focuses on letter recognition, rather than on picture + letter recognition.  In other versions, you don’t know whether children are recognizing the letter “a” or the apple, the letter “e” or the elephant, etc. You can also build your own bingo! 

TREND ENTERPRISES: Alphabet Bingo Game, Exciting Way for Everyone to Learn, Play 6 Different Ways, Perfect for Classrooms and At Home, 2 to 36 Players, For Ages 4 and Up

Mnemonic Alphabet Animal Cutouts

Studies have shown that children will learn  letter names and sounds faster when the letter are embedded within pictures. Attention: not a letter with a picture below it – the typical approach you’ll find in most  flashcards in the market today! These cute animal cutouts use embedded animal shapes for each letter of the alphabet (upper case). 

BeYumi 52Pcs Animal Alphabet Cutouts ABC Letters Learning Cards Educational Materials Home Preschool Classroom Decoration Bulletin Board Displays Wall Decals Stickers for Toddler Kids

Mnemonic Alphabet Animal Magnets

These embedded mnemonic alphabet magnets include upper case and lower case letters.

 The embedded animals will help your child link the letter shape and letter sound in a fun and engaging way. Magnets are always a good tool to add to your repertoire, as they are extremely versatile.

Coogam Jumbo Magnetic Letters Set 52Pcs ABC Alphabet Colorful A-Z Animal Uppercase Lowercase Fridge Magnets Preschool Educational Toy Learning Spelling for 3 4 5 Year Old Toddler Kids

Alphabet Letters Sensory Toy

This is another way to add multi-sensory experiences to alphabet instruction. 

Apart from being fun and engaging, these kinetic activities help your child learn the alphabet. This set was created with autistic children in mind, so they can squeeze the letters and release frustrations.

LESONG Alphabet Letters Sensory Toys: ABC Learning Educational Montessori Toys, Fidget Sensory Toys for Autistic Anxiety Relief

Montessori Sand Trays

Sand trays are a fantastic way to incorporate kinetic/multi-sensory activities into your learn-to-read routine. Writing in combination with phonological and visual training is more effective than phonological and visual training alone. 

This sand tray is beautifully designed, but, most importantly, comes with a lid and alphabet flashcards (lower and upper case).

AtMini Sand Tray for Classroom Montessori Sand Tray with Lid Wooden Sand Trays for Kids Writing Letters and Numbers (Pink)

Sandpaper Letters with Boxes

In Montessori classrooms, children are introduced to the sandpaper Letters to help them connect letter sounds with their corresponding shapes. 
These letters are specially crafted using rough sandpaper, engaging the sense of touch. Young learners are encouraged to repeatedly trace the symbol of each letter, allowing the shape to be ingrained in their muscle memory. You can do the same at home!

Elite Montessori Lower and Capital Case Sandpaper Letters with Boxes

Short vowels reading blocks

As your child learns the letter sounds, show him/her how they “come alive” in words with this good-quality CVC word construction set.  This set includes 50 CVC phonics word flashcards with picture illustrations, which should be plenty for practice when you are starting out. 

This is an awesome way to put what he/she is learning about sounds and letters practice!

 
 
 
Coogam Wooden Short Vowel Reading Letters Sorting Spelling Games, Site CVC Words Learning Flashcards Alphabet Puzzle Montessori Educational Toy Gift for Kids 3 4 5 Years Old

Literacy apps for beginner readers!

Learn with HOMER is a great app for learning to read with the synthetic phonics approach. Especially recommended for when your child is building up his/her phonemic awareness skills, and learning about the letters and their sounds.

They offer a 30-day free trial!

More details in this article.

This app has a preschool learning program that introduces children to the alphabet and letter sounds in a fun way. 

Later on, your child can move on to STEP 1 (36 progressive phonics lessons).

You can try it for just $1 for the first month! No lock-in contracts.

More details in this article!

READING.COM is an amazing literacy app that will take your child from letter recognition to fluent reader.
It is based on  the Direct Instruction model to teaching reading, and offers an engaging and immersive co-play experience between parents, teachers, and children. 

They offer a 7-day free trial!

More details in this article.

 
 
 

For even more app ideas, check this article out!

First steps at reading: blending sounds to read words!

 

Congratulations! Your child already has developed an automatic recognition of letter names and sounds. 

Now it is time to practice his / her blending skills reading books, text passages and words that are in line with his/ her phonics level. Beginner readers’ books play a crucial role here. 

As you may have read on our guide “How to Teach a Child to Read from Scratch Step-by-Step?/The Simple Formula to Reading Success” or throughout the blog, we recommend phonetically decodable books (also called phonics books or decodable books) at this stage. 

Below you’ll find a few suggestions of good-quality decodable books and word lists created by us that will be appropriate for your child at this stage.

Bob Books

BOB Books are a classic, but… They surely still work! 

Clean design, short and simple stories, as well as simple phonics, that advances as your child’s level of phonics does as well.

Bob Books Complete Sets Collection (12 Sets) - Set 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Animal Stories, Rhyming Words, Alphabet, Sight Words Kindergarten, Sight Words First Grade, First Stories, Pre-Reading Skills      Paperback

Dog on a log

DOG ON A LOG books are popular  for students with dyslexia /struggling readers. I think they can be great for any child learning to read. Extremely controlled text. They offer lots of opportunities for review and practice. 

Five Let's GO! Books 1: Systematic Decodable Books for Phonics Readers and Folks with a Dyslexic Learning Style (DOG ON A LOG Let’s GO! Book Collections)      Paperback – Large Print, October 12, 2017

Primary Phonics

Again, PRIMARY PHONICS readers offer lots of practice before moving on to the next set of rules! The sequence is really well-thought-out. 6 sets of phonics books with 10 story books each.

Primary Phonics Complete Storybook Package 1-6 (60 Books)      Paperback

For even more decodable books, check out this exhaustive list of the best decodable books!

Explore our entire range of affordable and effective learn-to-read materials here

Designed to gain mastery at reading following our signature approach

For free resources, you can always visit our library of free learn-to-read materials.

A breakthrough in sight words instruction! 

Align phonics lessons with sight words instruction with our color-coded flashcards!

We have also included other symbols and signals to help beginning students make sense of phonics rules instinctively!

Not sure yet? See a sample before buying!

An extraordinary resource for anyone teaching phonics! An EPIC compilation of word lists that match our scope and sequence!  

Save hours and hours of research and hard work looking for words that are appropriate to your child’s reading level! It’s all been done for you!
 
See a sample before purchasing!

This will be your go-to material if your children or students are transitioning from reading simple CVC words to more complex words that contain blends. Words like stop, grab or even stomp or brand. Why do you want to use this list?

No overwhelm: words are introduced gradually! Avoid cognitive overload No guessing, no memorization… Just decoding!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our guide “How to Teach a Child to Read from Scratch Step-by-Step?/The Simple Roadmap to Reading Success” is available for purchase on Amazon KDP.

This books reveals a simple (yet  powerful) signature blueprint to turn a child into a successful reader for life!

In this life, there’s foundations to everything. Reading included!

Children Learning Reading

  • Great program for young readers and for reinforcing reading instruction at home, if your child goes to school.
  • Lessons don’t take too long to complete or require complicated materials.
  • It uses a combination of Phonemic Awareness and Synthetic Phonics principles.
  • Effective, solid and easy-to-implement program.
  • Read our full review of this program here.
Hooked on Phonics Readers

Hooked on Phonics

  • Great for children that thrive on having a very clear routine for learning, and appreciate the use of audio-visuals (video lessons).
  • The system used is a sequential, systematic synthetic phonics approach.
  • Hooked on Phonics also has a pretty good literacy app that you can use in conjunction with the curriculum.
  • Save by getting a bundle including all the levels (reading, spelling and math!) + plus 1 year access to the app.

All About Reading

  • Great for children that learn best through multi-sensory experiences.
  • Based on Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching reading.
  • This could be a great option if you are after a multi-sensory program which also offers very explicit instruction. A very popular curriculum for home schooling. It is also a very popular program for struggling readers / dyslexic children. 

Logic of English

  • Orton-Gillingham based curriculum.
  • Great if you are after a multi-sensory program, that also goes really deep into rules (into the ‘logic of English’). Very appropriate approach for dyslexic/struggling readers. Tackles spelling, writing and reading all together. Another very popular curriculum for home schooling.

To discover more about these programs and to understand the differences among them, we recommend you check this post.

Learning to read can be a different journey for every child, and some may require more practice than others. That’s perfectly normal, and what’s important is that you keep pushing forward and learning… no matter how long it takes.

For struggling readers, dyslexic children, or those at risk of reading difficulty, using a system that prioritizes the development of Phonemic Awareness is critical. Combine that with a highly-structured and systematic

Besides, bear in mind that there are specific tools for struggling readers. One exciting trend in this area is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support struggling readers. However, it’s important to note that these tools are not meant to replace the hard work and effort that goes into learning to read. Rather, they serve as an additional resource to aid in the learning process.

Often, what struggling readers need is a strong foundation in phonics, a more holistic approach to learning, and lots of practice. Below, you’ll find some suggestions for children who face challenges and difficulties when it comes to learning to read.

Apps for struggling readers

Struggling readers benefit from having someone by their side while reading to correct their mistakes. But if you can’t always be there, consider checking out this app for smartphones and tablets.

Using Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Voice Recognition Technology, the app can detect the words your child is reading and correct any mistakes they make, just like you would if you were reading with them yourself.

The app also provides detailed reports of your child’s progress!

Learn more about this app in this post!

Reading Horizons software has been designed to improve reading skills, particularly for students with learning difficulties, dyslexia, or those learning English as a second language. 

The program is based on the Science of Reading, and the principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading.

Reading Horizons is also used as an Intervention Program at schools. 

 The at-home version is self-directed, and has two levels: “Discover” and “Elevate.” 

Learn more about Reading Horizons in this article!

If you want to know more about the differences between these two apps and see which one may be a better fit for your child, check this post!

Curricula/Programs for Struggling Readers

Struggling readers and dyslexic children can often benefit greatly from programs that use the Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching reading.

The approach is systematic, explicit, sequential, and multi-sensory, meaning it is structured and utilizes multiple senses to help students learn to read.

If you’re looking for quality learn-to-read curriculums that follow the Orton-Gillingham Approach, these are three options for you to consider. Check out  this curriculum, this one  or this one!  

If your child is not a kinetic learner, you could look into Direct Instruction reading curricula.

Direct Instruction (DI) is a teacher-driven structured approach. You follow a (normally, very detailed!) script, and only move on to the next set of skills, until the previous ones have truly become automatic (that is, until stored in your child’s long term memory). 

The most well-known DI curriculum out there is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons  It’s not the only one, though. 

For instance, the app Reading.com is an online based curriculum that also follows the Direct Instruction model.

DI has been scientifically tested, achieving excellent results in at-risk students. However, it also faces criticism, as some people say it is boring, repetitive and too rigid. However, some learners really thrive with this super-structured approach.

Another popular alternative is Alpha Phonics. Rather than a DI curricula, Alpha Phonics is a phonics primer. You can check an article where we compare Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons vs. Alpha Phonics here.

Finally, if the problem is that your child has difficulties blending the sounds, we’d suggest you look into successive blending strategies. This can be a game-changer for kids that struggle with blending. In that case, Phonics Pathways could be your go-to curriculum!

If you want to know even more about these curriculums, check this article out!

Books for Struggling Readers

For even more decodable books, check out this exhaustive list of the best decodable books!

S.P.I.R.E.

S.P.I.R.E. Decodable Readers, Set 1A – 10 Titles (SPIRE)      Kindle Edition

Dog on a log

Five Let's GO! Books 1: Systematic Decodable Books for Phonics Readers and Folks with a Dyslexic Learning Style (DOG ON A LOG Let’s GO! Book Collections)      Paperback – Large Print, October 12, 2017

Primary Phonics

Primary Phonics Complete Storybook Package 1-6 (60 Books)      Paperback
FREE Learn-to-Read Materials!