How to Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Review)

How To Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons Book review

I tried the book Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for my 4-year-old. We are still on day 38 and she can now read all by herself. This simple, stress-free, scientifically-tested approach to teaching reading ain’t a bestseller for nothing!

When my firstborn baby came, I had this goal: that she would be able to read by 2 years old. I was very optimistic and was up to the challenge. After all, I can read, right? I can teach my child the same thing. Then the sleepless nights came. We relocated between three countries. I became pregnant with baby number 2.

I was a star-eyed first time mom. Five years later, I know better now. Motherhood is not a project management. Motherhood is about life. Whether your child reads by 2, 5, or 9 years of age, they can always keep up. What you must choose everyday is this: Happiness, not control. I realised if I want to teach my child to read, I must do it in a happy way.

Then I found the Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner, and Siegfried Engelmann. The book cover says it all for me:

  • Easy 100 lessons
  • Just 20 minutes a day
  • With love, care, and joy (which means fun!)

This book is a beloved find! And I highly recommend it to any parent out there who wants to teach their child to read in a simple, fun and loving way.

Overview: How To Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons

This book is for children aged 3 to 5 years old. It comes with scripts that you must say to your child and it is printed in red. The appropriate child’s response is in black print.

The book Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons presents a DISTAR phonics-based reading program developed by Siegfried Engelmann (Education professor at Oregon University).

What is DISTAR? The DISTAR method, also known as Direct Instructional System for Teaching and Remediation, is a phonics-based reading program created in the 1960s to help children from low-income families improve their language skills and reading comprehension.

Numerous studies have proven that the DISTAR method is more effective than the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Basal Reading Program and other popular reading instruction programs-even if the child has a previously diagnosed learning disability.


My two-year old joins in the fun too! He copies the sounds her big sister does. With proper expectations (and fun) in place, I can safely say this book is also appropriate for two-year-olds.

Book Review: How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons

Here are the top things I truly appreciate and have learned from this book Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

1. It sets realistic expectations both for the parent and the child

I admit that just reading the introduction of Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons was overwhelming enough. I mean, who has time to explore a whole new method of teaching reading with all its strange symbols?

But hey, what I gotta lose? I bought the book already. So reading the introduction I did.

Then I started Lesson #1 with my 4-year-old. My heart was pounding.

The lesson has six tasks. Our first day of lesson went like this:

  • The first task was to say the sounds of the letters m and s. She did. That wasn’t hard.
  • The next task is the SAY IT FAST ‘game’. I say a word slow, then she says it fast, and then vice versa. It was very obvious she enjoys the ‘game’ and she’s quite proud of herself of being able to keep up. It went well. That wasn’t so hard.
  • The next task was writing. I let her write the letters m and s. It went well too. That wasn’t so hard.

Honestly, I did enjoy it too myself. There were no frustration or tears from either one of us. I think the structure was realistic for a 4-year-old and expectations are in the proper place. I think I could do this everyday.

And then the next day, we did Lesson 2. Then lesson 5, 10, 25, and so on. We are now day 33, and she is always excited every time we have our reading lessons.

My heart still pounds each time we encounter a new sound, but the book provides guide enough to get us through.

Some lessons are too dragging as it keeps on presenting the same sounds over and over again. But I guess that’s part of the plan, because it wisely introduces a new complicated sound each time those happens.

And all those complicated symbols presented in the book, well we got used to them. Apparently it helps us navigate multiple sounds of same letters and the pace of how slow or fast you make a sound.

2. To teach your child to read, you need a reliable reading program

I once tried Reading Eggs, and it might have worked with others but I found it was simply not for us. It is because I want something simple and structured. I found Reading Eggs too mentally ‘noisy’ with all the cartoon characters and inconsistent introduction of new words. Plus, it ain’t cheap. You have to buy new materials as you progress in each level.

Then I tried creating my own method of teaching reading. But it resulted to a lot of room for doubts, mistakes, and frustration. And I felt lost at where to start or which sounds or words to introduce first. ‘There should be something that’s structured’ I kept asking myself.

When I learned about the DISTAR method, there was no looking back.

The DISTAR method is one of the most effective and popular phonics-based reading program out there. The lessons are highly structured, mistakes are corrected immediately, and scripted lesson plans are provided for the parents.

3. Teach your child to love reading first

The book is for children 3+ years of age. But before that age, you can begin teaching her to love reading first.

What I learned the most is that kids learn effectively when they’re having fun. Trying to teach her to read like in a rigid classroom setting only brought frustration both for her and me. And learning does not happen when you’re frustrated.

I did not achieve teaching my child to read by age 2. But you know what’s better than that? She learned to love books. Oh yes she does! Because I read to her.. a lot. And I make voices and make fool of myself sometimes to make the characters come to life.

She now takes pleasure in following the plots in stories. And she gets frustrated when I stop reading to her after 100 times. And during the pandemic, one of her sadness was not being able to go our local library.

Looking back now, I think we did a pretty job there. And I adjusted my goal. I aimed that before turning 5 years old, she would be able to read by herself. And we accomplished that because of this book!

This is the lesson for day #38. And yes, my four-year-old can read this whole short story. All by herself.

Tips and tricks

  • Carefully read the Parent Guide before you begin the lessons.
  • Read a whole lesson first before giving it to your child.
  • Do a lesson when you’re both calm and restful.
  • Don’t feel pressured to complete it in 100 days.
  • You can complete several lessons in one day if your child is up to it.
  • You can use flashcards based on the lessons. But it’s entirely optional. The book is enough!
  • If you have a younger child, let him join too. It can be done with 2 kids.

Final thoughts

I owe this book a lot! Before, I was so lost finding an effective reading program for my 4-year-old bur finding this book was a headache saver.

I highly recommend this if you want a simple, fun, stress-free, and scientifically tested approach to reading your child to read.

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