Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner
Simon & Schuster, New York, 1986

Reviewed by: Angela Bourassa

What it is:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is an early reading program, the homeschool adaptation of the Science Research Associates' DISTAR reading program of the 1970s, and touts that you can teach your child to read in “only 20 minutes a day” using the DISTAR decoding method presented in the book. According to the introduction, the hundred-day program is appropriate for use with preschool children or children who have been to public school, who have not yet learned to read.

How it works:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons uses a systematic approach to decoding letter sounds. Each lesson is highly scripted, and follows a predictable path of tasks, including sounding out the letter, drawing sounds out slowly before saying them fast, rhyming and writing. Letter sounds are practiced by following an arrow printed under the letter with the finger, pausing to sound out the letter. Once a sound is introduced, it is used in a variety of ways during the lesson.

What I like:

There are several things I like about this program.
--It is scripted. This is not something I generally care for, but in this case, it keeps me on the point.
--The rhythm of the lessons and daily repetition becomes comfortable and routine.
--The instructions are detailed and clear, both those designed for the parents' understanding of the program and those within each lesson.
--It teaches decoding, rather than whole word recognition.
--It practices blending letter sounds in a smooth transition when voicing a word.
--The program uses pronunciation marks (long marks, etc.) so there is no question about the sound intended.
--The learner is reading actual words and short sentences very early in the lessons – great positive reiforcement.
--It truly does take about 20 minutes per day.
What I think could use improvement:
--The binding. In my application, with two children simultaneously, it is used during our “circle time” and can be difficult to maneuver or keep the children focused on the current page. A spiral binding would be helpful here.
--There are no “accessories”. Again, this may only pertain to my multiple student situation, but it would be greatly helpful to have a flip-chart type of accessory, so the boys could each follow along on their own page when practicing letter sounds.
--The sound writing. I like their methodology for print letter formation, but wish there was an alternate selection for script lettering.


We have seen rapid and lasting skill development in our four-year-olds using this program. They both readily pick out sounds they know out of context, in other print material and signage, and enjoy the daily lessons. I highly recommend this program for parents teaching beginning reading, as part of a larger literacy program.

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