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Learning Letter Sounds

by Lynn Maslen Kertell


The first step in helping your child learn to read is for them to understand that those funny squiggles on the paper represent sounds. To experienced readers, this is so well known as to be unconscious. To a child who does not yet know how to read, the consistency of a story book may be a mystery. So, give them plenty of time to learn about books, letters, and letter sounds.


Have several alphabet books in the house. Magnetic letters that attach to the refrigerator are a great toy. Alphabet art that hangs on the wall in the child’s room gives you a way to practice letters and sounds briefly and frequently.


Alphabet lessons:


When teaching the alphabet with phonics, it is extremely important to teach letter SOUNDS. This means, when a child looks at the letter, they know the sound that letter makes. A child may know that b is a letter named bee. It is more important that they know b represents the sound bbbbb.


Practice looking at letters of the alphabet and saying the letter SOUND. The adult may demonstrate first. The child should repeat out loud. Then give the child a chance to point at the letter and say the letter sound.


Listen for the sound at the beginning of a word. What SOUND does apple start with? What SOUND does bear start with? Start with spoken words before written.


Practice first sounds by saying, a-a-apple and b-b-b-bear.


When looking at letters, can the child point to aaa (letter sound)? Can the child point to aye (letter name)? Use letter cards, refrigerator magnets, or handwritten letters on paper.


When looking at words, can the child point to aaa (letter sound)? Can the child point to aye (letter name)? The child looks at the first letter only, while the adult reads the entire word. Use books or flash cards.


Start with two or three letters per day. Once the child can easily recognize letters, you may practice with more.


Keep practice sessions short. More frequent, shorter lessons are easier and more pleasant for both kids and parents.


Learn short vowels only. Look for materials that teach a as in apple, not ape; e as in elephant, not eat. Long vowels will be taught later.


Bob Books Alphabet is carefully written to follow all of the beginning phonics guidelines above. Each letter is shown in capital and small form. Each book includes a short story featuring the letters being learned. Short vowels are featured. They are carefully designed to give your young reader a satisfying pre-reading experience.


Best wishes for a great experience for you and your young reader!


Find Bob Books and other ways to get children reading and enjoying it at!


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