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Article:    Learning to Read 

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Software games that support children's budding skills in reading are rather plentiful, but not all learn-to-read software is created equal. Here are our recommendations for early reading programs:

Letters & Letter Sounds - Software

Top Pick A great place to start is Reader Rabbit Learn to Read with Phonics. This program takes a systematic approach to learning the letters, their phonics sounds, as well as simple sight words that will help kids read basic readers. The program also offers a free-play option for children who are not ready for the "road to reading" step-by-step approach. The directed approach involves traveling from one letter land to the next, learning to identify the letter and its sound, and playing skill-building games. New words learned in each letter land are then applied in an on-screen storybook. Children read the book before progressing to the next letter land. 

A second edition of the program was released and renamed with Preschool and Kindergarten in the name.  Reader Rabbit Learn to Read with Phonics is a superior choice for giving children a jumpstart on learning to read. [For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Reader Rabbit Learn To Read With... at (affiliate link)]

Phonics Excelerator is a very economical package of 2 CD-ROMs that have strong educational value. In one, called Vowel Games, kids learn about the short and long vowel sounds. In the other, Consonant Sounds, kids explore the sounds, and multiple sounds, of the consonants. The games in these programs essentially drill kids' knowledge (such as the Bug on a Rug game pictured at left), so choose this package if you are looking to help kids reinforce phonics skills. Kids shooting for gold (there is a gold and silver star reward system) might find the games too demanding. The programs' many lessons are decent and educational, however. [For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Phonics Excelerator (Jewel Case) at for approximately $9.99 US (affiliate link)]

Blue's Reading Time Activities is a title that doesn't teach the mechanics of reading. Rather, it introduces children to words--and lots of them--in clever ways. Children prepare pages for the newspaper by playing innovative activities. This program is really fun! Blue's Clues fans will be playing the game for hours. At the same time they will gain confidence with the written word. [For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Blue's Reading Time Activities at (affiliate link)]

Early Readers

Don't forget that software never replaces good early readers. Some of our favorite early readers are:

For "brand new" readers who rely more on whole reading than phonics, Brand New Readers are fantastic. They are excellent for children to show off their early reading skills, simply because the illustrations and sentences match so well. 

One of our favorite sets in the Brand New Readers series is Beep! Beep! It's Beeper! Each set contains 4 books with a common main character. In this set, Beeper, an adorable big yellow alien, goes on adventures in counting (counting moons, space cars, and even himself), painting, baking, and flying. These books are fun to read and sweetly illustrated. They come in a slipcover that holds all 4 paperback books. Children love them!   [For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Beep! Beep! It's Beeper! (Brand New... {affiliate link} at for approximately $19.99 US]

Also good is Here Comes Tabby Cat! Again, 4 books are included in a slipcover. [For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Here Comes Tabby Cat (Brand New Readers) {afflilate link} at for approximately $19.99 US]

An excellent early reader that is just a little bit longer than others is The Fat Cat Sat On the Mat. We adore this story and think it is ideal for both boys and girls. Because there are more pages than most early readers, children may read the book in spurts, but when they finish it, they'll feel like they have really accomplished something. It's great fun to read, and the vocabulary used, and the repetition is just right. [See our full review. For more information, user reviews, or to buy: The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat : Level 1 (An.. at for approximately $19.99 US (affiliate link)]


See our article: Books for Children Just Taking Off in Reading.