First Reader

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  • Reviewed on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
  • Grades Used: Pre-k to 1st
  • Dates used: 2007-2008
I purchased First Reader after the rave recommendations by some of the moms on this site. Kim did a wonderful job explaining it already, so I won't go into too much detail on how it works. I love its simple and straightforward approach. The pages are simple, organized, and it's not a lot of "fluff" to distract or confuse the child (or parent!). I printed a spreadsheet with all the page numbers and little boxes so my boys can check it off as they complete a lesson. They love that!

I took it slowly and spent about a year with my oldest son. It's now been about 3 months since he completed it and he's now reading at about a 3rd to 4th grade level, and I didn't use any other program. I've been using it with one of my younger sons since he was 4 (he's now 5.5) and we're halfway through it and he's reading very well, too. Since it's been a successful program for my two older sons, I plan on using it with my youngest son pretty soon.

Overall, I am very pleased with this program. I highly recommend it to everyone!


  • Reviewed on Friday, May 2, 2008
  • Grades Used: Kindergarten
  • Dates used: Used with four children so far for (not enough!) sample pages.

First Reader by Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum is an amazingly simple, straightforward book that can teach any child how to read for the incredible price of $30. I have used it with four boys, as young as 4 years old, with outstanding results. By the end of the program your child should be reading at a 2nd grade level. There is an optional handwriting book available, but any handwriting book of your choice will do just fine. The reading program itself has NO writing, which is one reason I love it so much. It is "open and go", just read for 10-20 minutes, and you're done for the day.

This incremental program starts out teaching the vowels and their sounds. Each vowel has a page with objects that start with that letter (alligator, egg, igloo, octopus, umbrella). Then each consonant is taught, with one side of the page consisting of pictures of things that start with that sound, and columns of short words that use the sound such as:




The basic format is the child will learn a new sound each day, then words that use that sound, then use those words in sentences, building up to poems and Aesop's fables by the end of the book. Words learned are constantly being used in upcoming lessons.

Sounds such as -nk (bank), /th/, /st/, /ch/ are taught with the same format: a list of words using the sound, then sentences practicing those words.

The book is 160 pages long and fits nicely into a school year. We have always started out quite slowly, perhaps doing a column a day, or columns of words one day with sentences the next, working our way up to columns of words and sentences as it "clicks". A little a day goes a long way. My last child who went through this book did not know all his letters let alone their sounds when we started, but he caught on quickly and is a fantastic reader at 6 years old. He moved easily into Rod and Staff first grade BNRS when he was 5 (it was much too easy at first, but he didn't complain about that!) and has not done any phonics since First Reader.