How to teach a child to read
Do recall who taught you to read? If you’re like me, there was one specific person—whether a parent or a teacher—who opened up the world of reading to you.
I have had the honor of tutoring in the public schools off and on (mostly off) for several years, and the major focus was helping kids learn to read or read even better. Also, for my own children, I have had the privilege of helping them learn to read.
Throughout these experiences, I have come across an excellent book that has helped in that journey. It’s called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The book uses two powerful concepts. The first is a phonics technique and the second is daily learning.
If you are going to embark on a major undertaking, it’s always a good idea to break it up into small, achievable steps. The authors of the book do a remarkable job in this area. I am sure there are other great teach-your-child-to-read programs and books out there, but this one has proven to be successful, in my experience.
In my home state, we have a major problem in which children are learning to read later and later, and many older children and adults are functionally illiterate. During one of my tutoring experiences, I discovered that the child had advanced to the fifth grade but could barely read, which broke my heart. That is why I am thankful for the many wise people who have emphasized the need for literacy and have become personally involved.
When a child can read, it opens up more than their learning. There is a link, I believe, between reading and spiritual development. Not only can the child then take in the Bible, the Word of God, when he or she can read, there is a moral dimension that seems to be opened up, through the process as well.
One of the most famous Christian conversions of all time is that of St. Augustine, who tells this story of how reading led to his rebirth. He says in his famous work, Confessions:
“So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, ‘Take up and read; Take up and read.’ Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find. … I seized, opened, and in silence read that section (of St. Paul’s letter) on which my eyes first fell: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, in concupiscence.’ No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”
I don’t know who taught Augustine to read, but whoever did, he or she paved the way for God to use this transforming moment in his life, which forever changed the history of Christianity and the history of the world.
So the next time you want to undertake something great, teach a child to read. Only God knows the good it may do.