5 Must Read Books For Parents Before Teaching Reading To Special Needs

Teaching Reading To Special Needs

Reading is not just an important skill, it can be easily identified with one of the life skills. Reading gives children confidence, imagination, self respect and the ability to interact with their social environment effectively and this holds true for our children with special needs too. Reading not only empowers our children with various needs, it also helps them be a part of the mainstream education system and gain respect from their teachers and peer group.

Most parents do everything they can to help their children acquire this skill so that they can be effectively integrated in a mainstream school or at least form this habit where they are productively engaged all through their life. However, teaching Reading can be extremely over whelming because it is not something that can be taught in a few weeks, months or in a few cases, even years. Acquiring reading as a skill can take many years for children with special needs and this process can fluctuate, get better, and may regress many times over the years. That’s why it is important for parents to have their vision and plan ready. A simple short term and long term strategy can help them plan better without wanting to give up at every possible plateau or challenge.

There have been many resources for parents to teach reading and not every resource will work for everyone but there are certain good resources which are not only crucial but are also like a baseline for one to understand ‘the learning curve’ before getting started. There are books, videos, reading programs, websites, free resources and apps that can help a parent make a comprehensive program for their child. In this series of all the resources pertaining to ‘teaching reading’ we’ll individually discuss each of these resources. Let’s first get started with 5 important books that one as a special needs parent should definitely read before beginning their reading journey with their child.

Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons  –Siegfried Engelmann



With more than half a million copies in print, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a book many parents and educators swear by. It is an easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help children gain the essential skills of reading. The book is kind of a manual with 100 lessons. It can be a little overwhelming when you start using it but stick to it for a few days and understand the methodology and you are in for a great ride. Once understood well, it helps children learn phonetically and very quickly!

My recommendation: Go for it! I found it to be great and even now I use it with my daughter and she likes it too. This surely comes with my personal recommendation.


Teaching reading to children with down syndrome – Patricia Logan Oelwein


We are well aware that our children with Down syndrome can learn to read, though, like all children, each has his or her own learning styles and needs.  Patricia Logan Oelwein developed her reading program at the University of Washington’s Child Development and Mental Retardation Centre, where it has been successfully ‘field tested’ for over twenty years. This book is full of useful and practical well researched information that is easy to follow. It uses a functional, language-experience approach, adapted for children with Down syndrome who may have difficulty learning to read with traditional programs. The book describes how children with Down syndrome learn, and how to capitalize on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. The balance describes a reading program which can be individualised and adapted as needed. The book however, written primarily for children with Down syndrome can very well be used effectively for children with other kinds of developmental delays as well.

My recommendation; I have this book and I can’t vouch for it enough 🙂


How to Teach Your Baby to Read

-Glenn Doman


With more than one million copies sold– this book illustrates just how easy it is for children to learn to read. Doman shows clearly, and illustrates with fascinating case histories, just how to teach young children to read–and what a great benefit early reading is to both children and their parents. It is not written keeping in mind any one type of disability so this can be used all across the board as well as for neuro-typical children.

This book is not just a methodology but an insight into a baby’s developing brain and how reading needs to be taught the way it is mentioned.  The original was published way back in the 60’s and may look like a little dated but the techniques shared still fully apply on ‘teaching  reading’ without making it exhausting for parents.  The book is straightforward and precise, down to the size and colour of the alphabets and that helps a parent get started on this fulfilling journey of imparting a life skill as important as reading!

My recommendation: You MUST have it if you are planning to teach your children to read.


A Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome – Teacher’s Handbook


This handbook is based on an evidence-based reading and language teaching program designed for children with Down syndrome. This program complements regular literacy classroom instruction with individualized teaching of sight words, letter sounds, phoneme awareness and book reading, together with the teaching of vocabulary. It was evaluated in a landmark randomized controlled intervention trial in primary schools in the United Kingdom.

This practical handbook provides detailed guidance, teaching resources ,video illustrations, and assessment forms to help teachers and teaching assistants implement an evidence-based teaching program designed for children with Down syndrome.

The programme teaches language and reading skills in small steps, and provides many opportunities for practice to consolidate learning. Teaching activities are designed to minimise distraction and reduce working memory and language demands to make it easier to focus on the learning tasks. While primarily designed to meet the needs of children with Down syndrome, See and Learn Language and Reading may also be helpful for other children with similar learning needs.


Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons – Michael Levin, Charan Langton


The Reading Lesson is a bestselling program that teaches young children to read in 20 easy lessons. The teaching method is based on phonics and key-word recognition, and with its innovative and guided approach, the 20 step-by-step lessons provide an easy-to-follow recipe for teaching children to read. Developed by pediatrician Michael Levin, the program has also been used successfully for children with disabilities.

Each lesson consists of words, exercises and short stories.  The length and the pace of the daily lessons varies with your child’s age and abilities. Each lesson begins with an introduction and a description of how to proceed. For example, lesson two introduces the letters “m,” “d,” and “r.” At the beginning of the lesson, there is an introduction with some words of advice and thoughts on how to go through the sounds of those letters and how to read them in words. The instructions in Lesson One teach the child basic sound blending. The special typography and font style the book uses will help your child to identify and separate the letters she already knows. These bars, dots, and special graphics are there as guides and are used to blend the sounds into words. This process is called “sounding out.  The book is an easy and cheap solution to teaching your children to read at home, and has been a success with families all around the world. Give it a try – you’re sure to love it.

Would love to read about more resources that you may have found useful for teaching reading to our precious children. Do drop the message in the comments section below 🙂