Do you have a struggling reader? Do you ever wonder why different children reach milestones at such different times? Every child is uniquely created with different strengths, and that’s an absolutely beautiful thing. As parents and educators, we have the unique privilege of allowing our children the freedom to learn at their own pace.
They will get there when they are ready.
There are a couple of things that you can do, however, to help a struggling reader. First of all, you can work with them on their reading skills daily. Consistent practice (at anything) has eventual payoff. But the most important thing that you can do is build their confidence. In our home, we’ve done this by providing readers that are interesting, engaging and challenging—yet not so challenging that our children get discouraged.
It’s a fine line.
We have, over time, collected several series that have been worth their weight in gold. These are our favourites:
I cannot say enough good things about these readers. There are 50 books in the set, and each one is wonderful and interesting. The early readers have passages for a parent to read and passages for the child to read, allowing for enough text to keep the story moving along without overwhelming the child. The more advanced readers do not have the parent passages.
Each story introduces new sounds/word types, building on the previous books. At the end of each book, there are three reading activities for parents and children to do together to reinforce the concepts.
My daughter loves these books. She begs to read them, and they have helped build her confidence tremendously. This set of books is hands down one of the best investments we’ve ever made.
This is a very simple series of readers. I purchased the 30-volume set. Each book contains between three and six stories that highlight specific spelling patterns. The stories are simple and the illustrations are basic, black and white sketches. If you want to try these books out, there are smaller sets available as well. These books are really are wonderful tools for practice. And, best of all, they are quite inexpensive.
3. Bob Books
This was the first set of readers we ever purchased. These were also the first books that my children ever read independently. And they are the books that initiated a love of reading in both of my older girls. Although the illustrations are very simple, my girls think the characters are hilarious and they absolutely love the stories. These are fantastic books for budding readers.
When we decided to homeschool, I couldn’t wait to “buy all the things”. One of the very first purchases I made was this set of McGuffey Eclectic Readers. These were originally published in the 1830s, and although we don’t use them often, it has been a lot of fun to incorporate them periodically into our homeschool. For those who are interested, there is a website specifically dedicated to teaching families how to use these readers. You can find it here.
5. Dick and Jane
Recently, we purchased four beautiful, hardcover Dick and Jane books for our six-year old daughter:
Our daughter is absolutely in love with these books, and I will frequently find her snuggled up on the couch, lost in the pages of one of her Dick and Jane books. These classic readers, with original illustrations, are sweet and timeless. Widely used in the 50s and 60s, Dick and Jane is still one of the best reading series around.
We love Pathway Readers. My children are fascinated with these stories of life on an Amish farm. Each hardcover volume contains a collection of readings that use a phonics approach. As a bonus, these books also affirm the godly values and character that we want to instil in our children. There are companion workbooks available as well, which we’ve used with our oldest child.
This delightful reading series focuses on sight words. The books introduce the most common sight words in the English language. We discovered them in a free little library in our neighbourhood one day, and they’ve proved to be a treasure. Similar to the Dick and Jane books, the illustrations are beautiful and the stories are absolutely charming. My daughter is enamoured with these books and they have been extremely helpful when it comes to sight word recognition.
Has your child used any readers that have been especially effective in building confidence? We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share in the comment section below.