top of page
  • Writer's pictureGaila Cohen Morrison

Dear Gaila - Learning to Read with Dyslexia, part I

Dear Gaila,

After years of having trouble at school, my son has finally been diagnosed with dyslexia. Is there any chance he can ever learn English?

Anxious Mother

Dear A. M.,

Your son can indeed learn to read English. It will not be easy. It will demand much work from you and especially your son. It can be done. It is very important to find a teacher who can teach him to his strengths. Every child learns differently and it's important for the tutor to be familiar with many different strategies and to see what works best with your son.

Dyslexic people have great difficulty in mastering phonemic awareness which is the very first step of reading. They have to develop phonemic awareness of beginning sounds, end sounds, middle sounds, blends and rhymes.

I mentioned a few ideas for developing phonemic awareness in preperation for kindergarten in a previous four part blog. Read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 to get more ideas. The following idea is appropriate for all ages:

Make a physical word bank of objects in the home. This can be a can of Popsicle sticks with the words written on them, a box of index cards or simply strips of paper kept in a jar labeled "B" or "SH", etc...

Search your home for objects like butter, bread, books. Write them all down on the Popsicle sticks and put them in a can marked B. The goal is NOT to learn to read the words, but from time to time to review all the words in a particular bank. If you can attach a picture it wi

ll be even better. Take out the words/pictures, you say them and have your child repeat. If you have pictures on them, then your son can take them out himself and say the words with a emphasis on the beginning sound. Keep on adding to the bank.

'Deposit' many sounds in this bank. Beginning, middle and ending sounds. If your son is recognizing the sounds well, go on to more complicated sounds - consonant blends like /cl/, /st/, /dr/ and /bl/ for "blue couch", "black piano", and a blender. Be sure to include sounds like /sh/ and /ch/ as well, such as shoes, shelves, cheeses and cherries!

In the next few weeks I'll introduce more tips and tricks for teaching reading to children with dyslexia.


Gaila has over 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns

bottom of page