Children Don’t Learn to Read by Being Read To

In 2011, I volunteered to read once a week to six and seven-year-old children of incarcerated parents through a wonderful program called Children of Promise. I volunteered with the idea that by reading to these kids, their reading skills would improve. As I engaged with the kids, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be the case. While I could deliver a highly engaging read-aloud to the kids in groups or individually, I was clueless as to how to build up their reading skills. I’d encourage them to sound out words that even I, at the time, couldn’t sound out. 

Take the word circle for example. I had no idea how to address the fact that the two c’s in the word made different sounds, that the short i was overpowered by the r and that the e was silent.

So, I began on a journey to learn how to teach reading. The first resource that really struck me as true is the work of Denise Eide who says, “There’s a great myth out there in our culture and that’s that children learn to read by being read to.”

I’d encourage anyone who reads to kids to take 40 minutes to watch Denise’s amazing lecture here:

Or, if short on time, watch this video with Denise in under 3-minutes:

Then, check out Denise’s book, Uncovering the Logic of English, which provides an understanding of 30 English rules and 74 phonograms that make reading and spelling far more logical and easy.