Early on, beginning readers should learn the easiest letter sounds, which are the single-sound consonants. These are the 16 consonant letters in the English alphabet that each make only one sound.
Beautifully illustrated ABC books from the public domain can be used to share these letter sounds with beginning readers. One of my favorite books in this category, “The Child’s Coloured Gift Book” by Edward and George Dalziel, was published in 1867. It contains pages for each letter of the alphabet in a story called “The Farm Yard Alphabet.”
Here are the 16 single-sound consonants from this story:
B for the Bees, that fly out here and there,
And bring to the hive the sweet honey with care.
D for Ducks, swimming, diving, and playing together;
They care not for rain nor the stormiest weather.
F are the Fowls: the hens and the cocks.
Take care, my fine birdies, beware of the fox.
H is the Horse, so sleek and so strong;
He draws the hay-cart to the meadow along.
J is Jane telling Johnny go faster,
That Johnny likes to avoid disaster.
K are the Kittens, that live in the stable;
They will catch all the mice as soon as they’re able.
L is for Lucy, who waits at the stile,
And puts down the pail, for she’s resting awhile.
M is the Milk, which is good, kitty thinks,
And so, uninvited and slyly, she drinks.
N is for the Nuts; and when lessons are done,
Two boys can go nutting much better than one.
P is for some Pigs, which have strayed from their sty,
But of course will return there to bed by-and-by.
Q stands for the Quince I have plucked from a tree,
To flavour the tart Mary’s making for me.
R for the Rabbits, white, spotted, and gray;
Just see how that little one nibbles away.
T for the Turkey, who stately doth sail,
With long sweeping wings and wide-spreading tail.
V for the Vine, growing high on the wall;
Take care, little boy, or you surely will fall.
W for Waggon, that stands empty alone
Near the trees in the fields when the horses are gone.
Z is for Zachary, shutting the gate;
So Good Night, little children; it’s getting quite late.