Anyone can be a Reading Teacher with Let’s Read

Written by Sharon Hillestad

You may be a parent who wants to or has to, teach your own child how to read. Thousands of parents have used Let’s Read: A Linguistic Approach and you can too.

Let’s Read presents a simplified method of teaching reading based on the alphabet and centered around spelling patterns. It teaches the child one thing at a time starting with the names of the letters.

Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) was one of the greatest linguists of our time. He was an expert in the English language and a professor of linguistics at Yale in the 40s. He created the Let’s Read lessons based on firm scientific principles of the language so that he could teach his own children to read.

Teaching Reading through Spelling with Let’s Read

Rather than teaching children to sound out words, in Let’s Read they are taught to spell them. The sounds are learned because the students spell several words having the same pattern. For instance: bat, hat, rat, cat, fat, mat, Nat, rat, sat, at, tat, vat.

After the student is able to read and spell those words, the next list consists of: can, Dan, fan, man, Nan, pan, ran, tan, an, ban, van.

The student is shown how the word rat differs from ran; pat from pan; and mat from man. The student knows how to read these words before getting more words with the short A sound.

Learning this way ensures that the student knows to read from left to right. The student learns the consonant sounds and one vowel sound at a time. The language patterns become automatic. There are no phonics rules to learn. There are 245 lessons that get the students to look at the words. There are no pictures and there is no guessing.

This method makes it easy for a child to learn to read. It was never picked up by the large curriculum companies, maybe because the cost was so low–under $30.00 today. Let’s Read isn’t promoted in the colleges of education either. Perhaps because Let’s Read is an orderly system, totally logical, and virtually foolproof. Anyone can quickly learn how to use it.

Let’s Read was first published by Wayne State University Press in Detroit, Michigan in 1961. A second edition became available in 2010. Five thousand words, as well as capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation, are taught step-by-step. The last story is book-length and when the student can read that story fluently, they are done learning to read. They can now read to learn—anything they wish.

Getting Started with Let’s Read

To get started, you need to be sure that the student is ready to learn to read. Starting children in reading before they are physically or emotionally ready may create problems.

This is a simple assessment you can use to determine if a child is ready for Let’s Read.

1. Can the child see a pin on the floor and pick it up? This is to determine if his eyes are ready for reading.

2. Is the child able to button up his own clothes? This is to ensure he has the muscles and dexterity to learn how to print.

3. Can the child recognize the letters of the alphabet? Not just singing the ABCs, but actually recognizing and saying the names of all the letters, both capital and small.

No words are taught until the student has total recognition of all the letters. Ideally, they would also be able to print any three-letter word that is spelled to them. This ensures they know the difference between the letters b and d or the letters p and q. Children will have difficulty learning to read if they are confused about the letters.

If using Let’s Read as a remedial reading program for older students, be sure they know the alphabet perfectly. Many high school students make mistakes, even when they are told how to spell the words bed and bad.

Now that you have read this article, you have more knowledge about teaching beginning reading than I did after four years of teacher’s college.

Go figure.

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