Book to teach reading

10 Helpful Science of Reading PD Books for Teachers

What is the science of reading? The term is often used while discussing research-backed methods for teaching kids to read. It isn’t new, but it’s definitely a hot topic these days. If you’ve been wondering where to start learning more about the topic, we vetted some recent PD books that can help you out. We also know you’re busy, so we found a mix of quick reads you can get through in a weekend and ones that dive a little deeper.

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.)

Science of Reading PD Books

1. Know Better Do Better: Teaching the Foundations So Every Child Can Read by David Liben and Meredith Liben

This is a super-practical primer (or refresher) on foundational literacy skills and how to teach them. The authors are founders of an alternative public school in New York City. They pulled off a dramatic turnaround in their students’ reading scores by leaning into the science of reading. The book includes many memorable stories that really help the content stick in your mind.

Buy it:

Know Better Do Better: Teaching the Foundations So Every Child Can Read at Amazon | Know Better Do Better: Teaching the Foundations So Every Child Can Read at Bookshop

2. Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates

This book will help you rethink some of your balanced literacy classroom practices without feeling like you have to start from scratch. Each chapter calls out common misconceptions, explains research, and gives super-manageable suggestions for “making the shift.” Tons of teachers call it a game changer! (Psst: The authors have also have amazing online resources.)

Buy it:

Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom at Amazon | Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom at Bookshop


Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations That Work by Heidi Anne Mesmer

If you want to improve your grasp of phonics instruction, Heidi Mesmer definitely has your back. This book gives a crash course on the English language for teachers. (For example, if you constantly forget what a diphthong is, this one is for you!) There’s a helpful phonics lesson framework to use over and over. Plus, we love all the easy activities and routines.

Buy it:

Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations That Work at Amazon | Letter Lessons and First Words: Phonics Foundations That Work at Bookshop

4. The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo

Since 2015, we’ve pulled from this huge collection of strategies for helping students grow their reading comprehension, fluency, and reading response skills. In response to research, the author recently revised her chapter about reading accuracy. She added 30 additional decoding strategies and made it available as a free download for anyone who purchased the book. This updated chapter can help you double down on emphasizing decoding and discouraging guessing.


Buy it:

The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Reader at Amazon | The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Reader at Bookshop

5. How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction, Second Edition: Resources for K-3 by Sharon Walpole and Michael C. McKenna

Juggling kids’ needs is tricky. In this book, chapters cover how to use research to plan small groups that target phonological awareness, word recognition and decoding, fluency, and comprehension. This updated edition is full of invaluable practical advice.

Buy it:

How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction, Second Edition: Resources for K-3 at Amazon | How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction, Second Edition: Resources for K-3 at Bookshop


Choosing and Using Decodable Texts: Practical Tips for Enhancing Phonics Instruction by Wiley Blevins

Do you hate decodable text? Long-time reading researcher Wiley Blevins just might win you over. Quick, readable, and research-driven, this is a great resource for K-2 teachers. Printable book lovers will appreciate the included black-line masters.

Buy it:

Choosing and Using Decodable Texts: Practical Tips for Enhancing Phonics Instruction at Amazon | Choosing and Using Decodable Texts: Practical Tips for Enhancing Phonics Instruction at Bookshop

7. Sounding Out the Sight Words: An Alternative to Rote Memorization by Denise Eide and Cindy Kringelis

Here’s a science of reading PD book focused on one concrete action step. Brain research encourages teaching kids to rely on letter sounds to read high-frequency words. These lessons make it easy to update your approach.

Buy it:

Sounding Out the Sight Words: An Alternative to Rote Memorization at Amazon


Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Third Edition by Louisa Cook Moats

This gold-standard textbook from a reading research guru was recently updated. Now it has lots of practical guidance and helpful charts, too.

Buy it:

Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Third Edition at Amazon | Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Third Edition at Bookshop

9. Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg

Fill your coffee mug and find your highlighters. This is a detailed explanation of the reading brain from a cognitive neuroscientist.

Buy it:

Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It at Amazon | Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It at Bookshop

10. The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It by Natalie Wexler

Here’s a science of reading PD book with a different perspective: the impact of background knowledge on students’ reading (and overall school) success. Do you want to be able to stick up for content area teaching for kids? If so, you’ll love this one.

Buy it:

The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It at Amazon | The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It at Bookshop

What science of reading PD books have you read lately? Share in the comments below!

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Teaching Kids to Read Part 2/3: Best Books to Teach Reading

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When teaching kids to read, I personally want the simplest and most straightforward materials that won’t bore me out of my mind. With my first, I did a lot of research on the best books to teach reading and tried out a few different methodologies.

While I’ve always been an avid reader, my background is not focused on literacy. I’ve studied business, psychology, and music, but never the formation of words. So I found that I vastly preferred something that really laid out all the steps for me and removed the guesswork. The below materials work with that in mind. If you’re a literacy expert or intent on designing your own curriculum, this post is not for you.

After trying a few different options with my 4 kids I’ve taught to read (so far!), here are the ones our family has found to be the best books to teach reading to kids in a simple and straightforward manner!

Don’t miss Teaching Kids to Read Part 1/3: What age our family starts teaching kids to read, and what reading readiness skills to look for.

Available on Amazon, Bookshop, Target, Walmart

This is the book I always like to start with. The best part about it is that it’s very clear and easy to follow along for both the child and the caregiver who is teaching them. There are 100 lessons in the book that take your child through the basics of phonetics, blending sounds, and putting it all together in simple paragraphs. The book includes the exact verbiage for the caregiver to use as you teach your child, so it’s extremely straightforward.

I’ve also used Phonics Pathways, but I don’t like the layout nearly as much, and it felt like it required more work from the caregiver. It also felt less interesting overall. Teach Your Child waits a few lessons to start really reading, but it introduces long and short vowels right away. This gives emerging readers a broader set of options for words, making it more interesting for child and caregiver.

When using it for my first child, I followed the verbiage ver batim. It was so nice being able to just read my “part” and not worry that I was teaching it incorrectly. With my subsequent children, I’ve become very familiar with the flow, so rarely look at the”caregiver lines” anymore.

Another nice thing with this book is you child does NOT need to know all the letters before starting. In fact, in some ways, it’s easier if they don’t because then they don’t have preconceived notions about what sounds the letters make. It also teaches your child how to move from left to right and back when reading a page.

How Long Does the Book Take?

This varies a bit based on your child’s age and interest, as well as where in the book you are. I started my older two when they were about 3.5. They picked up reading fairly quickly, and the whole book took us maybe 6-9 months to complete. I started my 3rd when he was about 4.5 and and we finished the book in about a year. I started our 4th just before he turned 4 years old and we did it consistently for about 6 months. We took a break for a couple months over the summer while traveling, and are nearing the end of the book when he’s about to turn 5.

But I 100% do NOT think your child needs to be a young reader for this book to work, nor do I think it’s better in any way. Those just happen to be the ages when my own kids showed interest, but I’m confident it would work for kids at a variety of ages. And that they can become successful and enthusiastic readers no matter what age they start!

Per day, we usually aim to spend 5-20 minutes, depending again on age and interest. The early lessons are super short so we could easily complete them in just a few minutes. The later lessons get long, so we’d need 15-20, and occasionally wouldn’t get all the way through them. Still, I usually cut it off after that amount of time so it doesn’t get too tedious.

Overall, I really love this book for being straightforward and simple, for teaching proper phonetics, and for giving kids a great foundation for their reading journey.

While sight words are often a big focus in schools, I prefer to really focus on phonetics with kids learning to read. It provides a much better basis for long-term reading fluency, and there’s been more recent research showing the importance of focusing on phonetics in early reading instead of rote memorization of sight words.

That said, there are a few sight words that I occasionally review to help my kids get more comfortable and not need to sound out every word. It can get a bit frustrating and tedious to work through every word every time, so once they have those tools, I like to help them remember a few common ones.

Which Sight Words Program Is Best?

There are pleeenty of sight words options out there, but they’re definitely not all created equally. I personally don’t love the ubiquitous Bob books. I just don’t think they’re that interesting for me or my kids.

My favorite sight words system is Preschool Prep. They have a series of both books (levels 1, 2, and 3) and DVDs that increase in complexity. For only having very basic words, the stories are pretty cute and I find them far more engaging than the Bob books. While we don’t use the DVDs extensively, I was surprised at how effectively they teach kids a few of the sight words so they can start reading right away for some early successes and confidence.

At the beginning, I just focus on one new word at a time. I’ll read the book to my child, then point out the word every time it shows up and have them point to it and repeat it. This solidifies the idea that the word can be in multiple places in a book and on a page, and that the letters are the same each time.

Best Books to Teach Reading: Further Practice

Once kids finish the above two resources, they’re typically pretty good at recognizing words that are familiar as well as sounding out the basics. However, they’re not typically ready to jump into life as independent readers. All of my kids – including my oldest, who took off on his own not long after finishing – needed a bit of hand-holding after the official practice books.

When I was first teaching kids how to read, I assumed picture books would be the next best step. After all, those are geared to young readers, right? Turns out, picture books often have fairly complex vocabulary and syntax as they are typically intended for adults to read aloud to children. So they can be fairly tricky for emerging readers. Here’s what I prefer instead.

Early Reader Books

You know those leveled books (like Step Into Reading and the I Can Read books)? The Step 1 books tend to be good at this point in your child’s reading journey, but this really varies. Some of them have complex names or other words, so I wouldn’t say they’re perfect for independent reading quiet yet.

Best Books to Teach Reading for Fun

Since your child will have the basics of reading down at this point, I really enjoy introducing books that are fun for the content, and don’t just feel like practice. (Which is sometimes what the easy reader books feel like to me.) Here are some of my favorites:

  • This book of stories is actually one of my favorites – the vocabulary is approachable but still gives a challenge, and it’s fun to do just a page or two for practice. Plus, since it has familiar characters, it’s both exciting and comforting to young readers.
  • Frog and Toad is always a winner, and is perfect for this stage. Plus, since there are different short stories inside, it almost feels like a chapter book – perfect for those emerging readers who want to be like the big kids!
  • Who doesn’t love Mercy Watson? While a bit more challenging than Frog and Toad, they’re a great next step with short chapters, illustrations, and slightly more advanced vocabulary.

Here’s a whole list of other easy reader chapter books for when your child becomes a bit more advanced!

Finally, a new live reading tutoring program called Savvy Reading came out a couple years ago – and we loved it! It’s a live reading program with a trained and certified reading teacher (either in a small group or one-on-one) to go through a phonics-based reading curriculum.

By the time it came out, my 3rd kiddo was fluent in the mechanics of reading but still didn’t super love it like my older two did. So I decided to sign him up for Savvy to see if it would help encourage a love for reading even though he was already reading at an advanced level (he tested into the 3rd grade class as a kindergartener). Surprise – it did!

Within a few weeks of starting the class, he was choosing to read early chapter books on his own. He also felt much more confident with diving into reading without a grown up reading along with him. It was wonderful and also really FUN – he looked forward to Savvy every day. And I’ve heard about a bajillion reviews from parents whose kids were struggling with learning to read who absolutely adore Savvy.

They now have classes for kids just learning letters and sounds all the way up to a 5th grade reading level. They’re currently having a back to school sale where you get a lifetime discount for signing up so it’s the perfect time to try!

Be sure to read the final post in this series with 10 Tips For Encouraging a Reluctant Reader!

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9 books that will teach you to read

Early learning to read, as well as the desire to engage in early development with a child, is a trend of recent years. The Clever publishing house recommends which books should be used for activities with the baby, in order not only to teach him to recognize letters and put words out of them, but also to instill a true love of reading.

Primer. Learning to read from 2-3 years old

At what age is it time to learn letters with a baby? Our authors, teachers with experience, Olga Uzorova and Elena Nefedova, believe that you can start from the age of two! Early? Boring? In no case! Kids love letters and games with them. Here, for example, is the letter "Z", which buzzes like a fly, and here is the letter "R", it roars like a lion. And kids are also delighted that syllables and words can be added from letters. nine0003

The tasks in the book are selected so that children of 2-3 years old do not get bored with its pages, but get acquainted with new things with interest, playing and joking. This will be very useful for them in the future: knowing all the letters, it is much easier to study with "adult" primers.

Notebook-Primer. Learning to read and write from 2-3 years old

This notebook is the perfect match for the Primer. There are no difficult lessons and boring activities in it.

The new edition is based on the effective method of teaching reading and writing by Olga Uzorova and Elena Nefedova. The main idea of ​​the technique is to captivate and interest the child, which means that you will not be bored. To help parents as much as possible, we put detailed instructions at the beginning of the notebook on how to properly practice it with the baby. nine0003

Information is presented in a playful way, with vivid example pictures. Now every new lesson is a game, not just learning to read. Study from a notebook and consolidate your knowledge with a split cash register of letters. With it, you can learn not only to read, but also to write small words and even mini-sentences!

Tosya-Bosya plays with letters

Tosya-Bosya does not sit still, she is always drawn to something new and interesting. In the new book, the cheerful fidget will not only play and be naughty, she will learn letters. And your child will get acquainted with the alphabet with her in a simple and exciting way. nine0003

Toshi-Boshi has prepared a lot of tasks for you: learn the word and add the first letters of the names of objects, complete the letters in one of the halves, color the pictures, cross out the extra letters in the words and collect the correct words from the jumbled letters.

We have also prepared many interesting facts. From the book, together with Tosei-Bosei, you can learn about ancient types of writing, about complex symbols and hieroglyphs that were used to replace long words. And if you still can’t write ordinary letters, you can try to come up with your own hieroglyphs with your child. nine0003

Vinnie and his friends. Learning the alphabet

Notebook-notebook with a game alphabet for children from 3 to 6 years old with a favorite friend of many children - Winnie the bear and his company.

All the letters of the alphabet are gathered on its pages. Each letter is accompanied by a small rhyme in which it is played out, and an interesting task associated with the rhyme. Draw portraits of Winnie's friends, get out of labyrinths, water vegetables and collect honey while memorizing the letters of the alphabet. An excellent choice for those mothers who seek to distract the child from the TV screen or want to keep the child on the road with maximum benefit. nine0003

Animal alphabet. Notebook with games and tasks

Velcro notepad is a win-win move to draw the attention of the little fidget to learning the letters of the native alphabet. Children love Velcro, especially if there is something interesting behind them!

In this notebook, we have collected 150 creative tasks, by completing which the child will develop fine motor skills, memory, attention, coordination, and also learn how to hold a pencil in his hand correctly. After all, without help, the spider will not get into the forest, the fish will be left without shadows, and the elk will wander around the maze! How can you not help here? And the animals, in gratitude for this, will show the fidget all the letters, teach them how to write them and even solve puzzles. nine0003

In the country of letters. 200 game tasks

Psychologists and teachers say that children learn best in the game. And it is much more pleasant for parents to play with children than to arrange boring reading and writing classes.

Go to the land of letters with the book by Svetlana Voskresenskaya. Under the cover you will find 200 different tasks for the initial learning to read and write. Learn new letters, look for them in words, make up funny stories from pictures, write and draw hooks and squiggles! nine0003

Each spread of the book consists of several tasks for a certain letter. Moving from simple to complex, your child will learn to read first, and then to write in block letters and even syllables. And those parents who like to carefully study various methods will find detailed instructions for classes at the beginning of the book.

I am learning letters. Alphabet-recognition

Alphabet-recognition is a handy box with 32 magic cards and detailed instructions for parents. To start a fun game, you just need to get them all and select the one you need. nine0003

Each card will introduce the kid to one of the letters of the Russian alphabet, tell you what words this letter can be found in and teach you how to write it correctly. By the way, you can write directly on the cards: they are reusable, you only need an erasable felt-tip pen.

I am learning to read. Learn the word!

Another beautiful box on a string, in which 32 task cards were hidden. They will introduce the kid to the letters and help him learn to read.

To memorize each letter well, you must first learn how to find it. Found? Now you can read short words. And two-syllable words. And then out of three! That's how we learned to read. And besides the correct words, the cards hide "incorrect" ones, which must be found and underlined. You can underline and draw directly on the cards: they are reusable, as in the ABC-Knowing, and very convenient. nine0003

I am learning to write. Logical recipes

And again the box, but this time more complex. It is perfect for those mothers and children who have already got acquainted with the letters and want to learn how to write them. On 32 cards, the kid will have to draw lines, squiggles and various elements of letters, and then the letters themselves. Sometimes you have to count for this, for example, to draw as many large letters F as there are scarves in the picture, and as many small letters F as there are shoes in the picture. nine0003

You can write, draw and hatch in "Logical Recipes" on the cards themselves, because they are reusable.

90,000 interesting books for teaching reading

Daria Gerasimova
"ABC of transformations"
Illustrations of the author
Labyrinth Publishing House, 2018

Artist Daria Gerasimova not only drew illustrations for the "alphabet of transformations", but also coined small texts and the very structure of this unusual book. On each turn, the child can really observe a series of transformations of a letter into an object. There was just the letter D - and suddenly branches grow on it, dragons fly in, and now we have before us not a letter, but a wooden house of dragons. “D is both a tree and a house. Two dragons slumber in it." The studied letter is highlighted in the text in color. The child can not only listen and look at this book, but also draw: the ABC of Transformations is accompanied by a set of cards with letters for coloring. nine0003

Uncle Kolya Vorontsov
Illustrations of the author
Labyrinth Publishing House, 2017

Uncle Kolya Vorontsov painted an entire book of interesting pictures-he arranged a real festival of humor. This is what is called a "cool" book. On the one hand, it uses words denoting such modern realities as a hamburger, electricity, eclair and plaster. On the other hand, it has "hooligan" antics like "draw your navel" (exercise for the letter P). The child will also find here a whole company of monsters (with the letter M). And each of the monsters has its own name, which also begins with the letter M: Mouse, Mukhra, Munyansha, Mumzik ... To pronounce all these names is also a speech therapy task. Studying the letters, you can play - for example, in the game "Find a pair of socks" (for the letter H) or in the maze (for the letter L), draw and color something somewhere. Each letter is inscribed in the picture, is its character, that is, a bridge is built into the alphabetic pictures between the drawn “message” and the letter “message”. nine0003

This ABC contains stories that are very witty and unexpected. Most of the plots are connected with the "adventures" of two cross-cutting characters - Buka and Byaki, who meet the reader at the very first spread and are later found on other pages together and separately. “A-a-alphabet” has only one problem, which is typical for all Russian alphabets in general. It is connected with the name of the letter and with its reading. The names of many letters of the Russian alphabet do not correspond to how they are read: el, em, er, sha, ef ... In addition, letters for consonants can mean both a hard sound (m) and soft (m): soap - meat. nine0003

This is not noted in A-a-ABC. There are no names of letters even on those spreads where the entire alphabet is assembled. But it's easy to make up for it. If a child asks what a letter is called, you need to say: it is called like this, but it is read like this and like this: this is the letter em, it is read like “m” and like “m”. Here - "m": soap, and here - "m": meat.

But in general, a child who is read a lot - and not only prose, but also poetry - can discover it himself.

You can also read about this book in the articles “Why do we need funny pictures?” and "Speak Russian". nine0130

Georgy Yudin
Primer. The Magic Alphabet in Pictures and Fairy Tales”
Illustrations by the author
Children’s Literature Publishing House, 2018

Primer is a multifunctional book. It introduces letters, offers the child exercises for drawing letters and provides an opportunity to read simple words. In addition, it still has material for cognitive reading (when an adult reads to a child).

The book is arranged very reasonably and conveniently: on one side of the spread there is a picture with an image-letter, on the other side there is a fairy tale. Between the spreads devoted to letters there are cognitive texts conditionally associated with the sound of the letter. For example, a fairy tale about the letter M is followed by a text about music, after a fairy tale about the letter A, a text about cars, and so on. Those. The book is also very rhythmic. nine0003

The pedagogical advantages of the book include a clear separation of pictures and texts: the pictures do not overlap the text, and the text is not painted over or smeared inside the pictures. The pictures are interesting and add details to the plot of the tale. At the same time, the search for the letter hidden in the pictures is a kind of riddle and an exercise in attention.

You can also read about this book in the article "Turkish panties, or how to draw a hieroglyph".

Grigory Oster
“ABC of G. Oster”
Artist Igor Pankov
Malysh Publishing House, 2020

Grigory Oster wrote a funny textbook on teaching literacy. The role of the teacher here is performed by the parent, so the methodological level of the book is built for parental opportunities. But there are no serious deviations from the "official school course" - such that later the child will have to "retrain" - is not in it. And the book makes an important emphasis on the fact that the letter stands for sound. nine0003

The book has a clear “lesson” structure: first, the adult reads the text, and the child looks at the funny pictures. You can then search the page for the letters they are talking about, and even simulate the process of reading. Paired reading - "parent - child" - is one of the methodological techniques of the book.

As the letter baggage accumulates, short words and syllables appear on the pages. Moreover, it is important that these words and syllables are repeated many times. They, too, can be "read-recognized" by a child. Actually, nothing more is required for the initial stage. nine0003

These books are not on sale now, look for them in libraries:

David Plaksin
“Such different letters”
Illustrations of the author
Publishing house “Children's Time”, 2013

for each for each one the letters of the artist David Plaksin have their own character: F - lantern, I - apple, N - New Year's, P - pirate. Unlike many alphabets, in which letters are studied by the example of nouns, here is the real realm of adjectives. Such a non-standard approach allows the author to somehow "embed" the image of objects into the letter itself: K is made up of bricks, A - from watermelons, and L - from shreds. Mikhail Yasnov tells how to work with this alphabet in the preface: it turns out that each letter can become the heroine of a separate fairy tale composed by the child himself! nine0003

You can also read about this book in the article “Speak Russian”.

Andrey Biljo, Masha Golovaninskaya, Anya Levychkina, Ira Tarkhanova
Vagrius Publishing House, 2001

"ABC" - a collective fruit of love for his art of an artist for its work of the art. designer, philologist and teacher.

Therefore, this book is distinguished from other alphabets and primers by the conciseness and style of the art object, expressive pictures and no less expressive letters. Instead of unnecessary verbal instructions, color works. The letter exists not only in itself, but is immediately found in words. The choice of words (the so-called "lexical composition") of the "ABC" is also a manifestation of art.

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