"You can't make her read or write. But you can make her not want to."—Joyce

Learning to Read Naturally

Accounts of unschoolers and how their reading developed.

Schools place emphasis on [early] reading not because it's the best way to learn but because it's the most efficient way to run assembly line learning.

—Joyce Fetteroll

"Unlock a World of New Possibilities"
Stories of reading developing from video game play, players' guides, etc.

"I Can Breathe Again, My Children Finally Learned to Read"
Carol Rice
with commentary

Two Reading and One Mostly Reading
Sandra Dodd, Summer 2002

Two Brothers Who Read Very Differently
Patti Schmidt

Four Children Now Reading
Deborah Cunefare

Encouragement for Worried Parents
Focus on "will read"

Four Homeschooled Brothers and how they learned to read
Carol Brown

Several Accounts of Early Readers

Learning without Reading
Including Holly's Advantage over Reading Peers
in a play and a girl scout presentation

"I can Read, You Know"
9-yr-old girl reads happily!

Lannie's 8-yr-old
Reads his Mail

Schooled, and read at 17.
How much happier could he have been without school!?

Jared Reads at 10

When is reading really reading?

Parents Reading to Children
Tales of now-adults and how they learned.

Phonics is not a magic decoder ring.

The Deepest, Best Reason for Learning to Read Themselves

Dyslexia and unschooling

Jo Isaac's survey with graphs of ages at which unschoolers learned to read: Reading age in unschooled kids, July 2016

I've always enjoyed reading other families' stories about how their children learned to read, especially those whose children learned a little later than others. My 11 1/2 year old son has just discovered the joys of reading independently during the last couple years, and I finally wrote up our own story about it in my blog. If you're interested, it's here: Learning to Read


Joyce Refutes the Same Old Arguments

Learning is natural for humans. Reading is not.

You're free to disagree but we have hundreds of unschooled reading children that are data to the contrary ;-) And as far as I know we have no adult unschooled children who are not reading.

Schools, that try to give reading skills to kids, can't make that claim.

Now, some children will learn to read without formal instruction, but they still have to be taught by someone.

People who only know kids who've been schooled are absolutely certain of this.

People who have unschooled know it isn't true.

And it's not just not true of some kids. It's not true of all kids who've been surrounded with positive experiences with print and are allowed to read when they are ready.

Traditional Argument:
They won't learn by osmosis. If you put some illiterate children on a desert island and surrounded them with books, would they learn to read?

Osmosis isn't what we are talking about.

Teaching is also not what we are talking about.

I read *to* my daughter stories she wanted to hear. I didn't quiz her. I didn't even follow the words with my finger as I read. She played video games where instructions were often written. She wrote long before she could read. She has always been surrounded by print. Her experience with printed words has been positive. (I'm not exactly sure when she could read but she read Harry Potter to me out loud at 10.)

If there were such a way to teach children to read, then wouldn't schools have 100% literacy? Even some good schools have kids who can't read.

And we do help but not in the way you're thinking with specific tasks that lead to a specific goal. I would answer any question my daughter had about spelling or what a word was. We played rhyming games. I read to her. She used software and games that required recognizing various words. She was surrounded by printed words that she knew went with particular words (McDonald's, Stop and so on.)

All those little things combined helped her figure out the code for herself. I never taught her.

I didn't withhold anything. I offered fun things. She encountered much on her own. But I also didn't make her take in anything she wasn't ready for. And she reads.

Joyce Fetteroll