Raising a Reader: Progressive Phonics & Teach Your Monster to Read



C is a 1st grader this year. At the end of last year, her interest in learning to read kind of stalled out. She didn’t want to learn anything new, and she didn’t want to bother with things she could already read. Thankfully she still enjoyed being read to. I gave her plenty of space away from it for a while, then gently tried several different tactics/resources to see what sparked her interest the most. Above all else, I want her to love reading. Two websites have saved the day—and they’re both FREE!

Progressive Phonics

We started with the intermediate phonics books, but Progressive Phonics is actually a complete reading program starting with the alphabet. It’s phonics-based but includes sight words and phonics rule-breaker. The books are downloadable PDFs, with printer-friendly and on-screen-friendly versions available (we put the on-screen version on C’s Nook). There are also activity sheets that coordinate with each book.

These books are cute, colorful, and interactive: The parent reads the words in black, the child reads the words in red. This taps into all those good, comforting feelings that come with being read to, and makes for a gentle learning curve that is never boring—Big confidence boost! C loves the musical qualities of the rhyming, and she especially loves the silliness. There’s a lot of laughter when we read these books!


Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read is a game that was carefully developed in collaboration with English Education experts from The University of Roehampton. The animations are adorable and the games are a lot of fun. Your monster is customizable and will occasionally “interact” with you: When C reached the halfway point in the game, her monster sent her a letter thanking her for what she’s taught him so far. The games are not timed, which keeps frustration at bay. (We used to use Reading Eggs, which is fantastic in so many ways, but the timed element was a huge drawback and caused lots of tears…plus, it’s pricy!). Honestly, it’s hard to believe this is free—thanks, Usborne Foundation! There are stats on the parent login page, so you can quickly see what areas need to be reinforced outside the game. And the Teachers’ Area contains plenty of fun off-screen activities, posters and certificates, and other resources.


These two resources are complementing each other very well and working great for us!