The first is how much we love to read! My kids usually have two or three books on their nightstand and spend about an hour each night reading before they go to sleep. Except the youngest, her bedtime doesn't allow that much yet. We have three tall bookshelves in our school room, half our computer desk is the equivalent of a fourth, two short bookshelves in the kids rooms, and parts of our closets are filled with books. The kids ask me why I don't buy another bookshelf, and I ask them where on earth would we put it in this tiny house?! I wish we had a room we could call the library. My three oldest bought their own Kindle e-readers, and if they don't have a book in their hands, they have their Kindle. We love the library, and borrow Kindle books from it as well as print books.
How we learned to read:Each child is so different! My first two attended public school during their early years. J would sit by M when she'd come home from kindergarten each day and listen to her practice her reading. By the time he went to preschool, he was already reading. M did well with the way her teacher taught her. J just absorbed all her knowledge by osmosis, and didn't need any rules, sight words, etc. He could just do it. By the time he went to kindergarten, the teacher said he was so far ahead of the class that he would be writing book reports instead of taking home practice books. Eeek... He hated that (so did I).
When I decided to keep E home for preschool, our intent was to teach her letter sounds to focus on speech. But she started putting them together and reading! I used Bob Books, You Can Read! for sight words, and The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR). The Bob Books were fun, You Can Read! was full of games, and she started to progress with OPGTR, but quickly proclaimed that she hated reading. It was getting to be the least favorite part of our day. OPGTR worked, but it was boring with no practice necessary for young children to obtain automaticity. So I switched to All About Reading. All of a sudden reading was FUN and she couldn't wait to do it each day. She progressed quickly through the levels and became a great reader. She was so happy when she developed the tenacity to read chapter books like her older siblings!
N, my fourth child who just finished kindergarten, has only used All About Reading. I kept the Bob Books around for fun, but they are too easy. We don't worry about sight words, but I did test her and she knew nearly everything that a third grader should have learned. She catches on quite easily, but so easily that she doesn't want to follow the rules of splitting words into syllables to determine what the vowels say. So we practice that frequently, because that's the easiest way to read a word correctly, and I let her sound words out in her head rather than out loud. She's doing great at reading, she can read the scriptures with us with very little help, and she loves piling books on her bed and working her way through them.
It's been so interesting to see how each child has learned to read in their own way, and I'm so glad we have used All About Reading because it teaches me so many things to help the children decode difficult words, and it helps with spelling skills.