By Jeanie Eller


You are very proud when your child brings home a great report card that shows that your child is learning to read in school. So, how do so many children get to fourth grade unable to read or graduate from high school unable to even read their own diplomas? They do not learn to read in first grade and then are promoted all through school and graduate still unable to read fluently and independently.

First graders memorize stories by looking at the pictures on the page. This is a normal thing that children do, but it is not reading. The first grade teacher thinks the child is reading. The child is very proud that he “can read” and the parents are thrilled when the child reads the story to them. If you take the story book, open it randomly to a page (without the child seeing it) cover up the picture so only the words are visible, you may be shocked to find out that your child can not read the words.

Find out if your child can read.  Sit down with your child.  Take something they have not memorized (like a story in today’s newspaper or this article) and have your child read it out loud to you.  If your child has completed first grade they should be able to fluently, accurately and independently read a story in the newspaper and answer comprehension questions about the story.  If they cannot, you need to immediately teach your child to read.  If you need help with teaching, contact


The Federal Government spent 2 Billion Dollars of our tax money to find out how children learn to read.  They came up with 7 principles of learning to read.


The first one is called Phonemic Awareness. Phonemic Awareness just means the awareness that words are made up of sounds.  A person (child or adult) must have this awareness before they can move on to the next step of learning to read.  When I taught illiterate adults to read in two weeks for the Oprah Winfrey Show, they had to have this understanding before they could learn to read.

The following are ways that you can teach these principles and your child can enjoy learning to read.

  1. Sing songs; play rhyming games and start making the connection of the beginning sound of the child’s name with the symbol (letter) that represents that sound.  For example if the child’s name is Keelan, every time you see a letter K in a book or on a sign, say, “Look, there’s your sound kuh. Kuh”.  Do not call it by its letter name Kay.  Call it by its sound, kuh.


  1. Teach your child letter sounds not letter names.  Teach your child the aah, buh, cuhs first, not the ABCs.  Letter names do not make words.  Sea Aye Tea does not make a word.  When your child says the sounds of the letters, Cuh-aah-tuh the word “cat” will come right out of their mouth.  For help with teaching the sounds get the FUNdamentals program.  You can also make and play the following games.


  1. Have your child make an Aah-Buh-Cuh Book.  Take a cheap scrapbook with white or beige pages.  At the top of each page write one letter.  (Both capitol and lower case).  Let your child cut or tear pages out of magazines and paste them on the appropriate pages.  I also let my children have any duplicate photos.  My son pasted a picture of a friend at a party on the Dd page and said, “Dan Doherty dancing.  Duh, duh, duh”.


  1. Aah-Buh-Cuh Bingo.  Take a piece of paper and make 5 rows across and 5 rows down to form 25 Bingo squares.  Say a word that begins with each sound of the alphabet.  You can always leave out one.  Have the child write the capital and lower case letter for the sound.  Then give the child Cheerios or M&Ms to use for markers.  Say a word that begins with a sound and the child will find that sound and put the marker on it.  When they have a straight line across, down or diagonally they say “Aah-Buh-Cuh” and they get to eat that row.


  1. Aah-Buh-Cuh Checkers.  Take a cheap checkerboard and write the letters in random order with a black marker.  Each time the child moves apiece they say the sound they are moving to.  If they forget or say the wrong sound, they lose a turn.


Jeanie Eller has been a classroom teacher for over 36 years.  She trains teaches all over the country.  She taught illiterate adults to read in two weeks for the Oprah Winfrey Show.  She has done over one thousand radio interviews on the subject of illiteracy and the simple solution. She is the developer of the ACTION READING FUNdamentals learn to read at home program.  She can be reached at:

1-800-378-1046 or