September 20, 2017

Okay, you bought the book, you tried the program, and you did, indeed, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. YAY!!!! HIGH FIVE!! WASN’T THAT FUN?!

But… that doesn’t mean they’re fluent readers just yet. Now what? How do I help my child build fluency, improve comprehension, and continue to nurture a confidence in and love of reading from here?

As I told Ben giddily the other day, “This is MY domain. I didn’t really know how to start teaching reading from scratch, but now that she’s got her foundation down, it’s time for guided reading. I know alllll about this!”

Okay maybe that was a little over-confident, but I definitely felt more comfortable moving forward with this than I initially did with teaching the basics.

Guided reading is a core component of the Reader’s Workshop model that I was trained in and used in my years teaching third and fourth grade. During guided reading, you basically have a running conversation with a child as you read through text together. Usually, the child reads the text out loud and you pause him along the way and coach him through his thinking by posing questions and practicing various reading strategies. Learn more about it here!

At the end of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessonsthere is a suggested list of books for moving forward. The idea is that you can continue in the style of the last few lessons using these books as the reading text. Cool, I thought, they already found the perfect next-step books. So I logged into my library account to put them on hold. (By the way, did you know that you can go online, put books on hold, and SOMEBODY ELSE FINDS THEM AND PUTS THEM ALL IN A STACK AT THE FRONT OF THE LIBRARY FOR YOU TO PICK UP?! I discovered this a couple years ago and my mind was blown!!! Best. Service. EVER!!).

Of course some of the first books listed were not available at the library. Well, surely these must be just-right books since they only listed about twenty books, so… I will just spend the money and buy them on Amazon. And then Amazon only had a few “buy it used” options. What?? If these books were so perfect, then why were so few available? Where was my Prime, 2-day shipping option? I pushed away the voice of doubt and forged ahead.

So, for the first time in longer than I remember, I bought it used through Amazon. The last time I remember doing that was in college. And that was a long, long time ago. I even had to pay shipping. These books had better be GREAT.

They were not. Here is the COMPLETE TEXT of one of these books:

Let’s play. We hide and you seek.

We’ll play too.

Ready or not, here I come!

<9 pages of only illustrations>

Now I want my turn to hide.

Where are you? 

…WHAT?! I went through ALL THAT TROUBLE and waited SO MANY DAYS (okay, eleven days- please excuse the impatient millennial in me) for THAT?!

Here is the other one I purchased used and paid shipping for (!!) on Amazon:

Look what I can do!

I can do it too!

<lots of illustrations>

Look what I can do!

That was it.

Three sentences. Or two, if you’re looking for unique sentences.


I’m fine with books that focus on pictures, but when the entire point of buying the book is to practice reading, then I’m not so pleased when there are only SEVEN unique words in the entire book. The other book suggestions were slightly more helpful, but not by a lot. One book even has a theme of two kids trying to out-do each other with their beach toy, to the point where one is pulling down the other’s pants and they are both completely not noticing a boy who falls into the water and needs help getting back up. Even worse, the story concludes when they see a girl who has a cooler beach toy that sticks her tongue out at them, and one shouts, “I hate her!” and the boys bond over their shared dislike of this girl.

This is really not the kind of stuff I want my daughter to be reading.

So I decided it was time for me to figure out the best “just right” books myself. After a couple of library trips, I have now compiled a great list of books that are just right for the child who has completed this reading program. They are books that my daughter can mostly read independently. I found two series so far that are just right for her, and each day, we’ll go through a new book that she’ll read to me, and once I see that she’s got it down (usually in one reading), we add it to her “Books You Can Read On Your Own” box. She loves going through the box and reading to herself, and let’s be honest- WE LOVE IT TOO. It’s even better than TV, not just because it’s not TV, but because it lasts longer than a 22-minute episode of Dinosaur Train or Daniel Tiger or whatever it is I’m letting her watch these days. Hooray!

So here’s the list, very roughly in order of increasing difficulty. Again, these are affiliate links, which means that I get a small percentage of any purchases made through these links (even if they are not the linked item). Thanks for your support! I think there’s a good chance you’ll find some of these titles at the library, and if not, I KNOW Amazon has several of them for you!

…As I’m linking these, I can’t help but wonder why the Dear Dragon books are so expensive! Our library has supplied all of them so far- hope yours has them, too!

We’ve gotten a lot more books since I made this list (mostly Biscuit and Dear Dragon books) then, but I think this is plenty to get you started. At some point, your child will start being able to recognize which books are “too big” and which ones are “just right” on his own. Don’t worry if they keep going back to “too small” (i.e. too easy) books once in a while- this is just another way to build fluency and confidence.

I hope this list gets you all off to a good start in Phase II of teaching your child to read! We are a family of readers and it has been so fun watching her learn. It’s been a game changer in so many ways, and I hope you have a blast with it, too!


**11/02/2018 UPDATE**

She is zooming through books like a race car. We now max out both of our library cards regularly (the limit is 100 books on each) so that means sometimes I am keeping track of nearly 200 books from the library at once!! (See what I shared on how we keep our books from the library organized!). She’s gotten into non-fiction as well, and has dabbled in space, rocks and minerals, and animal books. I wanted to share a couple more tips that I have learned since this last post: 1) A great resource to find books at the right level for your kid, and 2) How to navigate the library to find a just-right book for your child.

  1. I just got a comment today asking what her favorite series were, early on. I mentioned the Dear Dragon books, above, but apparently Rita’s library only carries that series in Spanish. What other series might be appropriate? Well, I was scanning my brain for books and could only think of the Biscuit and Mittens series at first. Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Mr. Putter and Tabby came shortly after, but they were definitely later. I couldn’t think specifically of too many series, but I have come to learn that many books with the “I Can Read” banner across the top are a good fit for her:
    When she was still an early reader, I particularly looked for the ones with the yellow “My First (Shared Reading)” circle on it to indicate an emergent/early reading level. Today, I found this website, where you can find all the different levels offered. Scroll down to the red “My VERY First” or yellow “My First” circles and click the button to find many books that could work for your child! To get even more specific with the level, click on the alphabet levels on the left (the closer to “A,” the easier).
  2. Another option is to go to the “Early Readers” section of your library and find the “I Can Read” books with the red or yellow circle on it. Your best bet is to actually open it and look inside to see if the text size and words seem appropriate for your child. Once you find a book that works well, chances are the whole series will be a good fit for your reader. I didn’t even realize there were so many more books available in the yellow “My First” level we haven’t read, so I put a ton on hold today and look forward to bringing them home for her to read!



20 responses to “What to Do After You Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”

  1. Emily says:

    I love this article. I bought or checked out literally all of the books except 2 I that weren’t easily available. One of them had ONE sentence in the entire book…and I spent $8 on it!! I had my daughter it in 3 seconds and then donated it.

  2. Vitaliya says:

    Did you ever do a phonics kind of curriculum for your daughter besides the “100 easy lessons…”? I am half way through the lessons and already thinking what to do next after we finish lesson 100. I’m homeschooling…should I get a K phonics book or is that already things they have learned throughout the 100 lessons?

    • joellen says:

      I haven’t done any other phonics curriculum for her. I don’t think it’s necessary to get another phonics book. At this point, I would get very, very easy books that your child can successfully read through, and very gradually increase the difficulty. I think the challenge is going to be in finding the “right level” books, which sometimes may involve getting more phonics books, but don’t necessarily need to be specifically phonics books. That is what this post is for: the books listed here were a good “next step” for my daughter, and I truly think it was the best way to help her progress in reading. Just continue the method you learned in Teach Your Child but give them these other level-appropriate texts to practice on. If you’re looking for some really, super easy texts, then maybe some of the BOB books might be a good place to start. Some friends had given us theirs, and my daughter blew past them in one day, so I was glad I didn’t spend the money on them. For example, look at some of those longer passages your child will be able to read through by the end of the book, “Soon the mouse came back into the bed room. The mouse was holding a little bed. That bed was made from a dish and a dust rag” (382). That is more advanced that the Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers (“Mat sat”).

  3. Amy says:

    Thank you!! We just finished 100 Easy Lessons yesterday. I don’t know why I didn’t think ahead to what we would do next until today?!? I was just about to go to Amazon to purchase the 20 books they had listed, but I read your post. I appreciate you sharing your book finds.

    • joellen says:

      Congrats! Teaching your child to read is such a special accomplishment! I hope you find some good ones off this list!

  4. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this! My daughter is nearing the end of the “Teach your child…” book and I remember the black hole of uncertainty after that with my older son. You are so right about the somewhat odd choices on that booklist.

    • joellen says:

      I hope this list is helpful for you! The choices on that book list are especially strange considering how well thought-out the rest of the book is, isn’t it?

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