Teaching Kids to Read: Readers We Used

Are you looking for a phonics program to help your kids learn to read? I’ve put together some of the phonics readers that we used with my three kids. As you’ll see, all three of my kids had different preferences!

I know I have a lot of new readers, and several people reached out to me recently who have preschoolers and are just starting out on this homeschool journey.  I realized that my posts about teaching my kids to read were somewhat buried here in the blog.  I thought I’d put together a more organized post and share the books and resources we used as the kids started sounding out words. I hope this is useful to some of you! 🙂

Note: Because this post is very long, I created a free pdf with this material that you can download to have on hand later.  The (free) pdf guide (Teaching Kids to Read) is 8 pages and contains all the links you’ll find below

If your child is still trying to figure out the letter sounds, they might not be quite ready to use phonics readers. Instead, you might want to play lots of games with them.  If that is the case, you might want to check out these posts instead.

PhonicsFileFolderGamesIt is better to wait until your child is ready than to push them. Every child is ready at a different age. My son was learning to read at age 3 1/2 or so… while youngest daughter was almost 5 before she was ready.  Some kids aren’t ready until even later!  If they aren’t ready, you might jump into some cool science activities or learn about space or history instead.  Remember, your child is never behind!

Phonics Readers:

Once your kids have the patience and interest, you can try having them sit with you to read. This varied for my kids. My son was three when he started using the phonics readers. My daughter, DD was four. And my youngest was four and a half or so. Some kids are much older. I spent approximately 10 minutes with them every single day. I think that was the key. In fact, I waited before I started working with DD because we were in the middle of an international move.

Each of my kids had their own pace and style of learning. For example, while my oldest learned to read extremely young, my youngest was much more interested in writing. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to find the books, rhythm and routine that works best for your child.

My son started with the Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers.(affiliate link) Those worked well for him.

BobBooks-ReadersI wanted to add that when I worked with the kids, especially in the beginning, we spent a lot of time “smashing” words together. “Sss” “aaaa” “mmmm”   and with a big CLAP  “Sam!!”   I tried to make it kind of a game. We aimed for 5 to 10 minutes EVERY day, but we stopped when the kids were done.

My second child, DD, also started with the Bob Books, but moved on to a different series (below).  And I also started my youngest, ED with the Bob Book Series.  I wound up making a number of worksheet packs to accompany the Bob Books for my youngest, who was excited about writing words, loved to color, and had amazing pencil skills from a very young age. These would *never* have worked with my son, but ED sure loved them! These packets are free here on the blog.

Here are links to the Bob Book Series.  We have free packets that go with the first two sets (Beginners and Advanced Beginners)



You can download this set free here: Beginning Reader Worksheet Pack to Accompany the Bob Books. At this post you will also find the second Bob Book Packet I made as well (or visit this post: Worksheets to Accompany Bob Book Set 2)


My daughter, DD, was not as interested in the Bob Books as she was with Animal Antics. (affiliate link)  My daughter *really* loved these and enjoyed the illustrations and story line better than the Bob Books. She worked hard to finish the entire pack (of 10 books. That those books built slowly… A cat. A fat cat. A fat cat sat. A fat cat sat on a mat. (You get the idea.) These worked really, really well for her. You can find them here: Animal Antics Now I’m Reading! Level 1 (affiliate link)

AnimalAntics-Readers-For-Young-KidsDD also used the Starfall Books: Starfall: Learn to Read (affiliate link)  but at the moment these appear to be out of print and are quite expensive. Their website is really wonderful, though and still free to use!! Be sure to visit Starfall.com

When my youngest was ready to start reading, she wasn’t particularly drawn to the Bob Books either. We used a free set of phonics readers called the Sam Books. We usually spent about 5-10 minutes a day reading together. We actually wound up using all 52 books!

I-See-Sam-Free-Phonics-ReadersI downloaded and printed out this series free over at Dr. Mariott’s website.  We used all 52 of these readers with ED, my youngest. They really worked well for her because they progressed very slowly adding just a couple of words in each new book. We generally read one new book per day snuggled up together our big lounge chair! (It makes me smile remembering that!) 🙂

This beginning reading program was developed in 1977 and since it was federally funded, federal law requires that the program be placed in the public domain.

A couple of years ago, readingteacher.com took this series and animated them.  From what I understand, the animated, interactive version of “I See Sam” is now a free service. You may want to check that out, though when I was working with my kids, I preferred having them on my lap as they worked on their reading.


What to use after the Bob Book Series or Sam Book series??

The Next Step (for us): Primary Phonics SeriesPrimaryPhonics-ReadingProgram

After we had finished with those sets, my kids were ready for the next step. For us, the  Primary Phonics Readers by EPS (affiliate link) were absolutely wonderful. I found them to be a perfect transition after all three of the kids finished the Bob BooksAnimal Antics type readers. These readers have a bit more of a meaty story to them.

At 16-pages, they were long enough to be challenging, but not so long that the kids were turned off. Even though, by the time we started them the kids knew most of the basic C-V-C words I started them all on Level 1, followed by Level M-1 (update: I’m not sure if these are available anymore or not) before continuing on to Levels 2 through 6.

Primary Phonics: Storybook Starter Sets: (affiliate link) As I said, this program has 6 levels, although some levels have two sets of storybooks. Each set consists of 10 books.  The books are about 16 pages each. Here is a sample of part of Mac and Tab.  The books in Sets 1 and 2 have just one sentence per page, the books from later in the series might have two or three sentences per page. The link I gave before is for the pricing information. We did not use any of the workbooks or supplementary materials.  You can also find out more about their materials here at their website: Primary Phonics Program.

PrimaryPhonicsReadersOnce my kids finished with the entire Primary Phonics Series, they were ready for independent reading.  We purchased easy readers off of ebay and kept rotating through all of those books. And one of the first series of books the kids started reading was the Henry and Mudge series. There are a lot of books in this series, but here is the first: Henry And Mudge First Book (affiliate link) Henry and Mudge

We also started borrowing heavily from our local library (that’s why several of the librarians know us really well! 🙂

Since this post is so long, I have created a free pdf guide with the material in this post.  The pdf is 8 pages and contains all the links and resources mentioned in this post:

PDF Guide – Phonics Programs and Resources to help your kids learn to read



Click here to save this on Pinterest

Teaching your child to read

I hope you found this helpful!! ~Liesl

Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

You might be interested in these related posts:


Don’t Miss our Free PreK-K Math Lapbook:



Other related posts you might be interested in:

Other Resources Here on the Blog:

Free two-letter word File Folder Game


sh ch th Word Sort Activities (Free)



You can make this by printing out our printable. This was for -an and -at words (It’s a free download.)

Valentine’s Sight Word Matching Game

HeartSightWord I made another one for -in and -it words: (This is also a free download.)


Here are some other blend materials I’ve made: L-blends such as BL, CL, FL, GL and PL

Consonant Blends - L-Blends - Worksheets Games and ActivitiesThese packets include worksheets, activities and games!

L-Blend Worksheets

Consonant Blend Games and Activities for bl cl fl gl pl

R-Blends such as BR CR DR FR GR PR and TR

R-Blend Worksheets and Games

R-Blend Games and Activities

R-Blend Worksheets for br cr dr fr gr pr tr

S-Blend Activities and Games Pack is coming soon!


See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) Homeschool Den StoreAgain, if you are interested in joining our Homeschool Den Newsletter, feel free to subscribe here:


Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Thank you for supporting our blog! ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *