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on 12 September 2017
I am currently using this with my 3 year old. She loves doing her reading lessons, we are only on lesson 16 but she is pointing out letters that she sees when we are out and about and telling me the sounds. I try to motivate her further after every 10th lesson we'll go somewhere fun like a soft play centre. It's working so far, my only worry is that it uses a slightly different looking alphabet (distar orthography) which will change to the normal looking alphabet at about lesson 75. I hope it doesn't confuse her! But having said that, there are good reasons for using that font and I decided to trust their system. I don't however, write all the letters in the same way as they tell you to (e.g. 'a' as it looks here) because I know she'll only have to relearn a different way at school, so normal letter formation for us.
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on 1 August 2010
I used this book with my daughter when she was 4 to 5. It did work but I had to encourage her a lot to do this because she just found this book boring. In the end we never completed this. That said, my daughter is someone who dislikes structured teaching and this book offers a structured curriculum. She's 7 now and reads at a 9 or 10 year old level, and she taught herself to read eventually at about 5 to 6 years old without this book. That is not to say this is a bad book, just that it does not suit every child.

EDIT : Well after 2 more kids, I've changed my mind. I've been home educating my kids for the last 4 years and I have used this book successfully to teach both my 2 younger kids to read. Okay so maybe this book doesn't work for my eldest, but I will give the book 4 stars out of 5 for teaching 2 of my 3 kids to read. It is a bit dry in delivery though, and it did become a bit of a drag doing this with my middle child towards the last 10 lessons or so. But my youngest, for some reason, really loved ALL of the stories in the book, so doing it with him was a joy even up till the end. And because he took to it so well, I bought all of the 20 odd recommended story books for him listed at the end of this book, to be used after he has completed the course, and now he has finished about 15 of them and going on to do the last 5 or 6. If you are going to be doing this, I have to warn you that the reading level required to read the last 3 books really does jump up a bit considerably. Especially the Look Out! Washington D.C. book... It is like a full-on paperback chapter book with lots of words. I'm not sure how my son is going to cope with that. He is a good reader but that book seems to me like a book even 9 or 10 year olds would read, and my son is only 6. But he has coped well with all of the first 15 or so books on the recommended reading list in this book so we'll see how he does at the last book. I wouldn't mind putting it aside for a while if he hates it.
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on 9 August 2017
This book bangs on and on about using the DISTAR method for teaching. But nowhere does it explain what DISTAR means. Odd for a book that teaches reading. Acronyms really need to be explained as the outset. This book was written by university people so I would not set the bar too high. DISTAR means Direct Instruction for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading. Though I have no idea what indirect teaching looks like. The book is well laid out and easy to follow. Check back here in three months to see if it actually works.
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on 29 July 2017
My son already had been to learning phonics before starting this book, as I feel that helped him a great deal. So far I'm on lesson 11 and I can say he really enjoys it. I would advice all parents to do the book daily and make it enjoyable. Children are going to get distracted and sometimes you have to repeats things. But if you make it a sense of great accomplishment for your child to complete a lesson they will be eager to carry on.
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on 30 May 2006
This is a really good book but takes too long to go from their script to proper writing and it is also not very appealing to children being all in red and black with few proper pictures. The first 30 lessons are brilliant for bridging the gap between knowing letters and then going on to words. I would say that unless your child is very motivated and you have a lot of patience and time it would be best to move onto easy readers (Oxford Reading Tree and other phonic books). These books have more interest for children and can be completed quite quickly. I have 5 children - the first two I did the whole book (the first one then went on to finish the oxford reading tree gold books by end of reception, the other one struggled to convert phonics to blending and really needed to read by context- it still meant she was at the top of the class despite her difficulties), the third and forth one did not finish the book but were well at the top of the class- unfortunately the new school did not encourage them to improve so they did not come on as well as the others. The youngest we really only did to ch 15 but he has really flown by taking what this learnt him and reading easy reading books. In conclusion - the beginning is great but after 20 it is quite hard to interest the child in doing the book. If you can motivate your child to do so they will be way ahead of their classmates when they start but do not blend very well and therefore tend to spell everything out. That said I am still glad I bought the book but if I had to do it again I would only do 30 chapters and then look for more interesting books
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on 4 September 2005
I bought this book 6 months ago to start teaching our then 3.5 yr old daughter. We felt she was ready to at least start learning phonics (she started talking at 18 months old) as she was showing an increased interest in 'reading' and 'writing' (although she's certainly not a 'gifted child'!).
I have to say I didn't really believe that the book would "do what it said on the tin", but I am delighted to say it can! We are now on Lesson 70 (of 100), and I am amazed at what our daughter can now read at just 4 years old!
The book recommends that you do a lesson each day. We don't always do that, as some days we don't have time, but I would certainly advise not leaving more than 1 or 2 days between 'lesson days' and definitely make time in the morning rather than the afternoon. However, you must read exactly what is on the page, as I've tried 'adapting' it to what I thought fitted my child best and I ended up going back a few lessons and reading it verbatim. The only extras I do put in are a lot more praise.
The book is recommended for "bright 3.5-yr-olds, and average 4 and 5 yr olds". I wouldn't suggest any earlier, as your child will need to write each letter they learn, and so they need to have developed their fine motor skills sufficiently. However, even if you only manage 20 or so lessons before your child starts school, it will help them no end, as it is exactly the system used in schools.
Finally, I was once told by someone trained in education that there are always 'natural readers' who are able to be told how a word sounds and remember it. That's all well and good until they try to read a word they haven't seen before! This book teaches how to read words properly by learning 'phonics' and blending them in a way in which we speak ourselves. Therefore, your child will eventually be able to pick up a book and read it, and attempt a word that they have not seen before themselves! Imagine their absolute joy when they achieve that on their own...
I cannot recommend this book any higher...it's extremely good.
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on 29 March 2016
My daughter was 3 and one day she told me "mummy can u teach me to read". I did not have the faintest idea on where to begin. So I did a bit of research and ended up buying this book. Best thing I did.I Was sceptical in the beginning but not for long. Took two days to read the instructions for parents 😱( that's the complicated bit ) but it explained how the lessons should be done . Made complete sense because you don't want to look confused infront of your child. Had to read and prepare the first few lessons but soon we both got the hang of it and the rest went amazingly well. Sounds are introduced one at a time and then practiced it in words and then the words are introduced into sentences. Now at lesson 58 she is very confident and loves to do her reading lesson everyday. She now gets very excited when she recognises and read words (and some sentences) in magazines , on TV, story books etc. I was worried if the difference in pronunciation (American) is going to confuse her because we live in the UK but that was no problem at all. I love the fact that they also have a list of 20 story books you can introduce after finishing this book successfully. My daughter starts school in 5 months time and I am sure I don't have to worry about her reading. Planning to use the same book for my two year old son when he is ready.
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on 21 December 2016
Great, I will give it a try after Christmas. Bought as present
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on 11 September 2006
Our 5-year-old daughter is at school in France, but we want her to be able to read and write English as well as speak it, so it is up to us to teach her. I wanted some help with this, as I was using odd books, but didn't really have a structured course to follow. I bought this book 8 months ago, when my daughter was 4. I bought it because of the good reviews on Amazon. It has lived up to expectations. It is amazing how suddenly the whole process comes together. We are now on lesson 77 - we don't do a lesson everyday, just on the 3 school-free days a week. Our daughter's reading is impressive - I think she would be well ahead of her age group in England.

Instructions at beginning of book seem complicated at the start, but persevere with them as it is actually very easy once you start the programme.

Only other negative point is the 'american words', but it isn't difficult to explain this.

I highly recommended this book, so felt I should add a review too!
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on 6 June 1999
When my husband and I decided to homeschool, we looked at a lot of different curriculums and found one that we thought was just the best thing on the face of the earth. It was $285 for about a year and a half worth of books. After four months of repetitive drills for over an hour each day, my son and I both hated school time.He just didn't see the point of all of those blends he had to repeat over and over. And with a two year old and a two month old I had trouble staying encouraged to do it. Then my friend introduced me to this book. Her daughter who is 1 year and 7 months younger than my son was on lesson 40 and doing wonderfully. I headed straight to the store. By lesson 13 (which was just day 4 for us because of the foundation that took 4 months to lay) when he read his first sentence he was totally hooked. FINALLY all those letters meant something. We usually did 2-3 lessons a day. We have completed the book and he is now reading wonderfully and loving it. Our other curriculum hasn't left the shelf since. This will be our phonics curriculum for teaching all of our children. It alone was worth $300.
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