Teaching a person to read

First be aware of the fundamental process of learning to read:
Letter recognition
Sound association with the letters
Combining letters together into words
Sound combinations (oo, ee, th, sw, st, etc)
Recognition of patterns and anticipation of words to come (the value of rhyming)
Practice
 
All of this is driven by the motivation of the learner. The stage this skill is learned is Kindergarden/first grade (sometimes earlier) and the motivation at this stage of life is... play. If you can make this process fun, it will go a lot smoother. The other aspect of motivation is success. A child will experience success with small words that he/she can recognize either in your environment (zoo, Stop, their name) or in the books you read with them.
 
How to do this? First, the most obvious is reading to them simple books where you can provide the path for them to follow. Part of the success of the Dr. Seuss books is that they are easy to follow, and the words are simple enough to allow pattern recognition. For example "Put Me In The Zoo" is a classic favorite: a whimsical story that has simple words. You can show your child the word Zoo on the cover and have THEM say zoo each time the word comes into the story (you will be leading with your finger and stop when you reach zoo).
 
Second, there are some superb video (DVD) products created by LeapFrog that make each stage so fun that the child will not know that they are learning. Hurray!
 
Other ideas:
Make the learning experience personal by creating an alphabet book with pictures of them. A could be for art (a picture of them in an art project), B could be them playing with a ball, C is your cat. This provides both the letter recognition and the sound association.
 
Use their personal interests: Boys may seem to be less motivated than girls at this stage, so use their interests to motivate them. Is it trains? Pokemon? Power Rangers? Transformers? Star Wars? Find or create simple books on the subject they like.
 
Bingo (Disney Bingo on DVD is a really fun game for kids this age). You could make your own bingo cards (with letters other than BINGO as a teaching tool).
 
Games, games, games.
 
I spy (with letters in your environment). This works better if you are stationary... but could be done in the car if you are not travelling too fast, or if there is a truck in front of you.
 
Learning to read is hard, we forget that. But teaching a child to read is one of the most important things you can do for them.
 

These are some wonderful products widely recommended for teaching reading to young children. The items with a heart are perfect gifts for children in the 3-5 age group.

Name of Item
Click here to order from Amazon.
Description

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Leap Frog DVD
The Letter Factory follows popular LeapFrog characters Leap, Lily, Tad and wacky Professor Quigley on their wild adventure through The Letter Factory. Here, these engaging characters tour various rooms where each letter of the alphabet is learning to pronounce its sound. For example, the letter Cs are in the freezer room where it is "Ccc-Ccc-Ccc-COLD." Featuring original songs designed to educate and entertain, The Letter Factory teaches children ages 2-5 letters, phonics and listening skills while fostering language development.
This is a DVD/Video for TV viewing.

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Leap Frog DVD
Produced to complement The Letter Factory by LeapFrog, The Talking Words Factory takes the educational process to the next level by focusing on word construction, rhyming and vocabulary. In the video, Leap, Lily and Tad journey to the Talking Words Factory where machines like the Word Whammer and Sticky-Icky-O-Rama make a group of letters into words. The Talking Words Factory also incorporates humorous songs to engage children ages three and up.
This is DVD/Video for TV viewing.

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cover Great price on Letter Factory and Word Factory together. Highly recommended!
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alphabet circus
Leap Frog Game
Come one, come all, to the best letter circus in town! Get ready to speak out loud because you'll be asked to make your own letter sounds, roar like a lion and much more! You'll be amazed by the acrobatic acts of Tad and his letter friends. At this circus you can speak, roar, sing and play to learn letters and their sounds!
This game is for a LeapPad.
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Leap Desk
This interactive learning system is designed to build a foundation for reading success, using a combination of sight, sound, and touch to teach children that letters make sounds and sounds combine to make words. Word Carts feature silly stories, lively music and educational rhymes to introduce key language concepts. Teaches: letters, phonics, reading, phonetic blends, spelling, rhyming, and three- and four-letter words.
This is a stand-alone game.

Richard Scarry ABC
ABC DVD
A delightful tool to help kids learn their letters, Richard Scarry's Best ABC Video Ever finds Busy Town pals Huckle and Lowly Worm discovering that it's Alphabet Day at school. Their teacher, Miss Honey, invites her students to join in a spirited rendition of "The Alphabet Song." Next comes a series of 26 vignettes developed around each letter and cleverly intertwined with Sergeant Murphy's investigation into the mystery of some stolen bananas. Simple, sweet, and as entertaining as it is instructive, this production exemplifies the great care put into the Richard Scarry video series.
This is a DVD/Video for TV Viewing
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Reader Rabbit
Join Reader Rabbit on a joyful journey to build reading confidence and success! Develop essential reading skills while exploring 26 Letter Lands filled with fun phonics activities and engaging storybooks. Practice language arts skills while playing with four fabulous word-making machines at the Word Factory. From letters and sounds, to words, and spelling, and on to reading comprehension.
This is a software game for your computer
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Mouse Makes Words
A little mouse zooms about changing letters—for example, substituting P for C to change a Cup into a Pup. A beginning reader rhyming extravaganza that emphasizes initial sound substitution.

One of the Step-Into-Reading series. Virtually any of the Step 1 books are great for beginning readers.
Book for parents/teachers

games with books
Everyone knows how important it is to read with children. But how can you continue your child's learning experience and enjoyment of a story once you close the book?

In this book, Peggy Kaye shows parents and teachers how to play learning games based on classic children's books. Games with Books features 14 picture books, from Harold and the Purple Crayon to Bluesberries for Sal among others. For each book, Kaye offers three to four games that will keep kids entertained while they are practicing valuable reading, writing and math skills.

teach your child to read
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a complete, step-by-step program that shows parents simply and clearly how to teach their children to read. Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days your child will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It's a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help your child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything you need is here -- no paste, no scissors, no flash cards, no complicated directions -- just you and your child learning together. One hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give your child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.
Book for parents/teachers

you can teach
This user-friendly book with step by step directions gives any reader the tools to teach someone else to read. With easy to follow lesson plans, built in evaluation, and tips on how to reach students in the way they learn best, anyone can teach a child, teen or adult, an individual or group, a beginning or at-risk reader.
Book for parents/teachers


List of Step-Into-Reading Suggestions
List of books for beginning readers