Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons vs Alpha Phonics Review – The GREAT Debate!


  1. Intro: The Great Debate
  2. Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: In a nutshell
  3. What exactly is Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?
  4. Why would you want to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lesson?
  5. What system does Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons use?
  6. Why does Teach Your Child to Read use a Made-Up Alphabet?
  7. Can You Learn to Write and Spell with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?
  8. Alpha Phonics: In a Nutshell
  9. What is the difference between Alpha Phonics and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?
  10. A close look into Alpha Phonics
  11. The NO-PICTURES Approach
  12. Alpha Phonics and Writing
  13. Conclusion

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links lead to Amazon marketplace. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you). This helps keep the information on the blog free and available to everyone.

Alpha Phonics vs. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: The Great Debate!

Even though there are excellent phonics programs out there, oftentimes they come with a steep price tag attached to them that not all families can afford.

The good news is that you can still teach your child to read (from an early age) using very effective methodologies thanks to these 2 very affordable reading programs…Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Alpha Phonics!

Even though they both use phonics principles for teaching children to read (and, more specifically, synthetic phonics principles), don’t be confused! The system they use is also very different!

Let’s go through them now in more detail so you can really see how different they are.

If you are doubtful about which one to pick, hopefully by the end of this  article, you’ll have a very clear picture of which one suits more your child’s learning style!

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

      • Who is it for? Great program to teach any child to read from scratch in a one-to-one setting (direct instruction).
      • System: DISTAR System (Direct Instructional System for Teaching and Remediation). Backed-up by numerous large-scale studies, that have found this system to be extremely effective.
      • Number of levels: 1 (everything included in 1 manual). By the end of the program your child will be reading on a (solid) second-grade reading level.
      • Great if you want… To be taken by the hand following a script, and following a system that has been proven to work.
      • How to Buy:  Get Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons on Amazon!
      • Price: Very affordable. Normally sold for less than $20. Check final price on Amazon!

What is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?

As the name indicates, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a complete manual to teach any child to read from scratch in only 100 lessons.

It is written more for parents than for educators, as the program assumes that you are teaching your child to read in a one-to-one setting at home. It uses the DISTAR system.

More on the DISTAR system later!

Why would you want to pick this program?

If you  want something that doesn’t require a lot of preparation and that takes you by the hand with a script, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons could be a great option for you!

When I say ‘you follow a script’:  I really mean it! It is literal!

This program is not lightly-scripted. It is scripted word by word. You can’t  move a coma of what you say to your child!

You have to use the exact words they say to use on the lessons, pause when they tell you to pause… Even how you correct your child and when to correct your child is scripted.

This is crucial for the program to work at its full potential, as the authors explain on the intro of the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Manual.

It means you need to be comfortable with this, and trust that the system they use is going to work.

As I mentioned before, the system of the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons program is called DISTAR, and has proven to be very effective when  you follow it to a T.

The DISTAR System

DISTAR stands for Direct Instructional System for Teaching and Remediation.

This system dates back from the 60’s and was originally developed with the purpose of  helping kids from low-income families improve their language and reading skills.

The DISTAR method is backed up by numerous studies that have found this system to be extremely effective.

In fact, DISTAR -and Direct Instruction Programs, in general- have had the best literacy results when tested by large-scale scientific studies.

A very important detail with the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Manual is that prior to embarking into the lessons, you need to learn about the sounds yourself!

There’s a part on the manual that teaches you all about the sounds and how to pronounce them correctly for the DISTAR system to work.

Let’s go through a few examples, so you can understand this better…

As you can see on the picture below, the symbol is the letter m and it is pronounced mmm, not /muh/, with the /uh/ sound at the end.

When pronouncing this sound, you should make it last longer because there are 3 mmm’s, as opposed to, for instance, the letter ‘t’, which should be shorter because there is only one t.

Again, remember not to add the /uh/ sound at the end. Therefore, the letter t is pronounced /t/, not ‘tuh’.

Pronunciation Guide - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy LessonsAnother characteristic of the DISTAR system is the use of ‘weird symbols’ in the alphabet: lines on top, 2 letters joined together, dots…

Teach Your Child to Read Symbols

‘Made-up’ Alphabet – Teach Your Child to Read Uses Symbols and other graphic cues to facilitate the process of teaching a child to read.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons on Amazon! Check It on Amazon!

For instance, the lines on top of vowels mean that you should pronounce those vowels in their long form (that is, they say their letter name).

So, if the letter ‘e’ has a line on top, we say ‘eee’ (as in the word ‘eat’). If it doesn’t, we pronounce it ‘eh’ (as in the word ‘end’).

The guide also tells you when in the program those sounds are introduced, as you can see on the picture above.

I know….

A bit confusing, but it is not as bad as it looks… Besides,  you get all the explanations on the manual!

By the way, the manual doesn’t come with a CD or anything like that.

However, I found a youtube video from one of the co-authors of the program (authors) that goes through all the sounds and how to properly pronounce them.  If you purchase this manual for your child, I think it could be a good idea to watch that video!

Also, you can watch this one where I briefly go through the some of the sounds with you!

The DISTAR Made-Up Alphabet

What is my view on the use of these strange symbols?

After reading the explanations on the manual about the use of these symbols and funny characters,  I understand why they use: These symbols act as signals, and -when understood- they can really facilitate things for a beginner reader.

But, at the same time, it limits the texts that you can introduce to your child. Basically, you can’t read normal books.

This is ok at the beginning…. Your child (especially a young one) will have enough with the texts on the Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons manual.

My doubt is, though: How is s/he going to transition after finishing the manual into normal books?

Probably pretty well (from what I’ve heard), or maybe he/she’ll be lost without symbols… Again, you really have to put your trust on the DISTAR system!

The sessions are to be done in 12 to 20 minutes a/ day, but after close examination of the lessons I think some of them will take you longer than that.

On the intro of the manual, they go all on and on about creating a routine, which I totally agree with. And I guess, you do too. We all parents know that children tend to really thrive on routine!

Regarding the price, as I said: This program is really affordable.

You can Check Final Price on Amazon here!

Can You Learn to Write and Spell with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?

This manual for learning to read, not for learning to write. In fact, the manual very clearly states that the writings tasks that you get on the book are included for their reading-related value.

I think this is a valid approach.  Some programs just focus on reading, while others tackle reading, writing and spelling at the same time. And it all has its advantages and disadvantages.

But what is definitely truth is that if you focus on reading, spelling and writing  all at the same time, you can’t move as fast!

Besides, it can be very confusing, especially for beginner readers!

Alpha Phonics

In a nutshell:

  • Who is it for? For anyone looking for a no-frills phonics-based system.
  • System: Phonics Primer. Uses synthetic phonics principles
  • Number of levels: 1 (everything included in 1 manual)
  • Great if you want: Simple / no-frills program that is easy to follow and implement.
  • How to Buy:  Buy Alpha Phonics on Amazon!
  • Price: Very affordable. Normally less than $20. Check final price on Amazon!

What is the difference between Alpha Phonics and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?

Even though Alpha Phonics also uses the Phonics system (as its name indicates) for teaching children to read, as I mentioned before, the approach is very different.

First of all, Alpha Phonics is lightly scripted (as opposed to rigidly scripted!).

On Alpha Phonics, you get a script, directions, lesson materials to cover, and suggestions on how to put everything into practice…

But the program allows room for flexibility for you to carry out the lessons and cover the materials.

A close look into the Alpha Phonics’ approach

Ok, let’s look at their approach, because it is so straight forward that I think I can easily explain it to you in a few words!

First of all, you teach the alphabet. What really called my attention is that you only teach letter names, rather than letter names and sounds at the same time, which is the approach I would normally use… 

Once you’ve finished teaching the alphabet to your child, you can officially start the lessons.

Lessons seem short, simple and quick (especially when you compare them with the length and the level of detail on the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons program)…

5 – 15 lines of text is the average length of a lesson, and that covers all you have to do for the day!

However, don’t be deceived by this!!

There’s quite a lot to cover on each lesson…


 For instance, on lesson 1: The child goes from knowing only letter names to suddenly learn 6 sounds in one lesson, and learn how to blend those sounds to read very simple words. Next lesson, another sound is introduced, and your child learns to blend more sounds to be able to read longer words (3 letter-words). Then, fortunately, you have a review on lesson 3! Then, Lesson 4… More consonants…

You get the idea… It moves fast!

So, sometimes you may want to maybe repeat lessons. Or, perhaps, you could add a sounds review at the beginning of some lessons.

Even though it moves fast, the program follows an order that makes sense. It is sequential and logical. This means that your child will build upon the knowledge he already has, and s/he is not going to be introduced to super advanced concepts out of the blue.

The NO-PICTURES Approach

Also, as you can see on the picture below, they are not great fans of including pictures (you know: ‘A’ is for apple, and there is  the picture of an apple next to the letter, ‘E’ is for elephant, and there is the picture of an elephant next to the letter ‘E’).

Alpha Phonics - The Alphabet

There is a reason for that. They don’t want children relying on any visual cues that have nothing to do with reading.

In fact, that is true for the entire book… No pictures, just black and white letters!

sort of agree with that view. But if you are not going to rely on visual cues, when you are teaching your child the alphabet, you are going to use maybe other strategies for memorisation.

Some tricks that may help you (that I have personally used):

  • b has a belly
  • c is half a cake
  • d wears diapers
  • Relevant letters: your child’s name initial, your name’s initial…

You’ll maybe have to come up with your own little stories, so they are relevant to your child.

I really like how sight words are introduced.

They put them inside a box next to words that have similar spellings, to get the child used to the fact that in English irregularities happen!

They just don’t give you a random list of sight words that have nothing to do with each other. In my experience, that strategy really facilitates the process of memorising sight words for children. It helps them assimilate the concept of ‘sight words’ and how they work through patterns!

See an example of what I mean below!

Alpha Phonics - Sight Words
Sight words are introduced together with other ‘regular’ words with similar spelling patterns. Sight words are put inside a box. This strategy really helps children memorise irregular words and understand/assimilate the ‘concept’ of sight words.

I know what you are thinking…

This is not a sexy program!  Lists and lists of words and texts, all black and white!

But it is all for a reason. They don’t want to overcomplicate it and, overall, they don’t want children relying on pictures to guess or to look for cues.

If your child can read these words, you can be assured he/she is reading. Definitely not guessing, because there is no way to do so!

You can Alpha Phonics  from Amazon here!

Alpha Phonics and Writing

This is not specifically a writing program either, but they actually talk about the topic and recommend you start with cursive, and give you a few tips on how to find a good writing program to do in conjunction with this one.


Both manuals are good-quality / effective phonics programs, backed up by research. They have been around for decades now and have helped thousands of children learn to read in a very simple way, and without many materials required (just the manuals really!). This is a ‘no-frills’ (or minimalistic) approach!

They both follow the traditional approach of direct instruction teaching/learning style. They are also extremely cost-effective ways to teach your child to read!

So… Ultimately it is up to you to decide which one will be better for your kid and your family. If you want something that really takes you by the hand all the way through (and you don’t mind the ‘made-up’ alphabet), then Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lesson it is definitely a great choice for you.

However, if you still want to be guided, but appreciate a little bit flexibility on how you execute the lessons, then Alpha Phonics is an excellent option for you!

Buy / Check Prices on Amazon clicking on the images below!

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: Revised and Updated Second Edition Paperback – June 15, 1986
Alpha-Phonics A Primer for Beginning Readers Paperback – Large Print, August 4, 2015

See it on Amazon!  

The only thing with these 2 programs (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Alpha Phonics) is that whereas many parents vouch for them and say they are incredibly effective, and that the methodology REALLY  works, it is also true that many parents also say their children find the approach boring…

So, what do you think? Do you like the approach that these programs use? Are you going to use them?


2 replies on “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons vs Alpha Phonics Review – The GREAT Debate!”

Doby Johnssays:

Greatly enjoyed your comparative article and it will help me choose the program I plan to use with my grandkids.

Do you have any more reading tricks you could share, like “b” has a belly? Please send others you do—I would appreciate them.

Thank you,
Doby Johns

Hi Doby, thanks for your comment! A few more that come to mind: “s” is a sssssnake (notice how you can easily see the form of a snake in the letter s), “d” wears diapers, “m” is a mountain (or well two! – notice the resemblance with a mountain), “w” is a wave (you may have to stretch your imagination further with this one, but you’ll end up seeing the wave!), “l” is a lipstick (again, you may to stretch the imagination further, but you’ll hopefully see the resemblance), “o” it’s an octopus’ head, the letter “t” is very “tall” … I encourage you to use these little resemblances and stories, they make sense to children and can really help them out! If you are subscribed to our YouTube channel, stay tuned because I am planning to record a video on this topic soon! If you prefer to read our blog, I tend to publish an article based on the video at a later stage! Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FREE Learn-to-Read Materials!