Teaching Kids to Read isn’t strictly a book for children, but it could have an enormous impact on their ability to read and consequently, their future.

I am a big supporter of literacy and as a long time parent helper in classrooms, I have seen the anguish and frustration experienced by children who struggle to keep up.

It’s estimated that around one in five children have some sort of learning difficulty and that’s why books like Teaching Kids to Read are so important.

Fay Tran, the author of Teaching Kids to Read is has more than twenty five years experience as a teacher and this book contains a wealth of research  and anecdotal evidence.

Peter Westwood, Associate Professor (Special Education) mentions in his foreword,

“The results from research conducted in many English-speaking countries have indicated very clearly that the early stages of teaching reading and spelling must include an emphasis on explicit instructions in phonemic awareness and letter-to-sound relationship, because both are necessary for decoding or writing unfamiliar words.”

It’s well known that kids learn differently – some learn by listening, some learn by reading and some learn by doing. It’s not that any method is right or wrong, it’s just that we’re not all the same and neither are our children.

Teaching Kids to Read will help you identify what type of learner your child is, if they have a learning difficulty and what you can do about it. There are also great resources at the back of the book showing where you can get help.

Phonics, which Fay Tran believes is the key to developing adequate literacy skills, is the method of learning embedded at the heart of Australia’s new National Curriculum.

In Teaching Kids to Read, Fay explains how phonics works and how you can develop phonemic awareness in your child. She discusses techniques that work especially well for kids with learning difficulties and her book is full of word lists and lesson plans that can be used in the classroom or at home.

Fay also examines how learning issues can affect a child’s behaviour and how lack of sleep can affect their ability to learn.

As Professor Westwood says about the author,

Her approach to their problems reveals a thorough understanding of how children learn.

Teaching Kids to Read is a great resource for teachers, but it’s also an important book for parents of beginning readers or parents of children who are having difficulties learning to read and write.

Teaching Kids to Read is published by Wilkins Farago


Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.

4 thoughts on “TEACHING KIDS TO READ”

  1. My concern is the advice about handwriting in this book .. p95 “Prep/Kindergarten and Year 1 teachers have the enormous responsibility of ensuring that their charges establish good handwriting habits early etc”

    Young children should not be trying to control pencils and perform very difficult movements (i.e. letters) usually on lines, when the fine motor skills in their fingers and hands have not developed – sometimes this is still developing at 6-7.

    And boys are 6 months behind girls – so you can see the problems that develop as these children who are being made to control thin pencils begin to form bad pencil holds etc. They should be doing activities that increase their fine-motor strength.

    Kids do learn at different rates – and if their teacher is aware of Child Development principles then I don’t see a problem – that teacher would not be forcing an activity like handwriting on the lines before the child was physically able to do it. Hopefully, parents won’t try to do it either.

    There are lots of things to help encourage fine-motor skill development. See my post on ‘early handwriting’… http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2010/11/ask-sheryl-how-can-i-encourage-my-4.html

    Many other things in this book are very useful though.

  2. Thanks Sheryl for your input. It’s an interesting debate. Obviously the handwriting issue is one that there is no “right” answer to, and it is not discussed at great length in Teaching Kids to Read because it is a book about reading and not writing.

    All Fay is saying is that it’s important to develop good writing habits. In her book, she is not suggesting kids do complex writing on lines or any other involved writing tasks. She is simply saying it’s important to teach kids early on to hold their pencils correctly and as a parent, I agree with her.

    To me, holding the pencil the right way is part of the learning experience like learning to hold a knife correctly so you don’t cut yourself. My children didn’t develop good habits with regards to holding their pencil/pen correctly and I think it has affected the standard of their handwriting and their ability to write for extended periods of time.

  3. Thank you Dee for such an astute review of my book. You must share my concerns for children who don’t find learning to read easy.
    Thank you also for the defense of my handling of the handwriting issue. The book is mainly about reading and spelling, but the same basic teaching principles apply for handwriting. Handwriting is also a skill that needs to be taught and if a child is not ready for it when starting school then efforts should be made to help them get improve their fine motor control and then teach them the skills when they are ready. As you said, I am more concerned about the development of bad habits, which are very hard to correct once they become automatic, than I am about perfect handwriting in the early stages. Pencil grip and letter formation are more important that sizing and keeping within the lines.

    1. Thanks, Fay,

      I do share your concerns. I have seen kids totally left behind and branded badly behaved because they have trouble learning within the school system. It’s so important for kids with learning difficulties to get help as early as possible before their confidence is eroded. Your book gives parents and teachers such useful information on how to recognise problems early and where to get help. I really believe that Teaching Kids to Read is a valuable tool for both parents and teachers.


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