What is Yellow?

Yellow readers are only reading the pictures.

At this level, your child won’t actually read any words and may not even look at the words, but she will remember the repeating sentence pattern and “read” the pictures.

Your child is learning that reading is thinking, which is an important foundation for future comprehension skills. This level is all about pride of ownership. Praise your child for learning to read on her own. Call up Grandma to boast about the exciting news! Your child will take great pride in feeling she can actually do this on her own. You will be able to watch your child thinking actively as she integrates the picture clues with the sentence pattern. As long as you don’t expect her to really read, this level will go quickly and be great fun for both of you.

Above all else, keep it fun. Cozy up on the couch with a yummy snack. This isn’t work time. It’s all about making reading an enjoyable activity to do with Mom or Dad.

What Makes Yellow Books Unique?

In Yellow books, the sentence is the same on every page except for one word that changes to reflect the main idea of the picture. For example: This bus is red. This bicycle is red. This apple is red.

Yellow books work like “training wheels” on a 2-wheeler. Children can “read” Yellow books before they can actually read any of the words or letters.

There are three stages of Yellow (1Y, 2Y, and 3Y levels) with a new reading skill at each stage:

  • 1Y: Use the sentence pattern and pictures to “read” the book.
  • 2Y: Point to each word as she says it.
  • 3Y: Make the sound of the first letter of the new word on each page, then say a word that BOTH starts with that sound and makes sense with the picture.

Try reading this sample Yellow book

Teach Your Child to Read Yellow Books

  1. Select any of the Training Wheels Series Books with a yellow stripe along the edge of the book.

  2. Read your child the first page. (Example: I see a fish.)

  3. Read your child the second page, but stop at the word that changes to see if your child can fill it in. (Example: I see a...) If he doesn’t, ask him “What do you see in the picture?”

  4. On the third page, see if he can remember the sentence pattern and fill in the new word, using the picture. Anything he says that makes sense with the picture is “right” (For example, if the word is “cat,” accept anything like cat, kitten, little kitty cat, black kitten, etc.)

  5. See if he can use the pattern and the pictures to “read” the rest of the book.


Learning to Read Yellow Books


If your child is having trouble using the sentence pattern and pictures to read the rest of the book by herself, do not be discouraged. She just needs greater exposure to books for it to come more naturally. Put the Yellow books aside, follow these suggestions, and try again in a few weeks. You’ll know when she is ready.

  • Read to your child for at least 30 minutes (preferably for an hour) every day. To fit busy schedules, break the time up between you, your spouse, and/or other caregivers so there is morning, afternoon, and evening reading time.
  • Encourage your child to choose the books and read whatever she wants you to read. Choice helps create a sense of ownership and spawns greater interest.
  • Make sure reading time is super fun. Get creative by embedding reading time into other fun activities. Go hide and read under a blanket with a flashlight. Read to the family pet or a favorite stuffed animal. Avoid bribing your child to read with extrinsic awards. If she isn’t enjoying it, chances are it feels boring and it’s time to spice things up.
  • Re-read favorite books until your child can fill in the last word or sentence on each page. Encourage her to guess what the last word in a rhyming book will be.
  • Keep books all over the house—in the car, by the couch, in her bedroom—and encourage her to “read” to herself, a pet, or to you while you are preparing dinner, etc. It doesn’t matter what she says (if anything) when she pretend-reads, you just want her to be engaged by the books and pictures.
  • It’s always good to lead by example, so make sure your child sees you reading, too. Encourage her to sit beside you and “read” to herself while you are reading.

Yellow Coaching Tips

1 Yellow

  • Keep the focus on thinking and learning about the content of the book. You want your child to be able to “read” the main idea of the picture to figure out what the book probably says. Remembering to say the repeating sentence pattern while reading the pictures will keep your child challenged. Expecting him to focus on the words at this stage will only frustrate him unnecessarily.
  • When the word doesn’t make sense, keep going! Be positive and just say: “Actually, it says ‘I see the flower’ Let’s try the next page.”
  • Always accept any word that makes sense. Do not expect your child to read any words yet, and resist the natural urge to stop and teach anything about the word. For example, if the text reads “I see the flower,” and your child says “I see the plant,” just say: “Good! That makes perfect sense.” If you really want him to know the correct word, just say: “Here the author used the word ‘flower.’ Let’s try the next page.”
  • Fast is good! Your child is learning what fluent reading sounds like and feels like.


    Learning to Read Yellow Books

What Mistakes Should I Correct?

  • Make sure your child is saying the repeating sentence stem verbatim.
  • Make sure the one new word on each page makes sense, regardless of what the word actually is.

Teach Your Child to be 2 Yellow

Once your child has mastered using the pattern and pictures to read, the next skill to learn is tracking. Tracking means that she can touch each word as she reads it and that the number of words she says matches the number of words on the page.

Counting and 1-1 Correspondence

To be ready to learn to track, your child should already be able to correctly count small numbers of objects. If she can’t, try these ideas to get her counting:

  • Count steps when you walk up and down the stairs.
  • Count items you can physically move, such as blocks, spoons, and toys.
  • Sing the alphabet song while marching through the house, singing one letter on every step.
  • Play games like Mother May I? and Duck, Duck, Goose.
  • Play board games like Chutes and Ladders and Candyland.

Concept of Word

Next, your child needs to understand the difference between a word and a letter. Try these ideas to help her learn:

  • Make up a funny sentence and clap your hands on every word.
  • Write out a sentence on pieces of paper (one word per page) and step on each word as you say it.


  • When you read the first page or two to your child, point to each word as you say it.
  • Encourage her to point to each word as she says it.
  • Keep the focus on pointing to each word and do not correct the reader as long as what she says makes sense. Don’t expect her to actually read the word. She is looking at the spaces between the words, not the words themselves. This can be a very hard skill to master, and you don’t want the child to be overwhelmed or frustrated. There’s a lot happening here!
  • Do it together. Hold your child’s hand and help her to physically point to each word as she says it.
  • Take turns. Let your child read the words while you do the tracking. Then switch it up so you read the words while your child does the tracking.
  • Make the pointing at words more fun by exaggerating the motion to skip high up over the spaces (or “holes”) or by wearing a “magic pointer” on the tip of your finger (like a silly finger puppet or even a piece of tape).
  • Don’t require finger tracking every time. Take breaks so your child continues to read the Yellow books with fluency without having to think about pointing to the words.


Teaching Tracking

What Mistakes Should I Correct?

  • Make sure your child is saying the repeating sentence stem verbatim.
  • Make sure the one new word on each page makes sense, regardless of what the word actually is.
  • Make sure your child says one word for each word on the page.

Teach Your Child to be 3 Yellow

Once your child has mastered tracking, the next skill to learn is to use the sound of the first letter of a new word as a clue to help figure out the word.

Initial Consonant Sounds

Learning all the letter sounds can take some time. While in the car or around the house, here are some activities to help practice initial consonant sounds:

  • Use the Letter Sound Books, entire books dedicated to each consonant letter.
  • Sing "The Alphabet Song" and stop at a random letter. See how many things you can name (or see) that start with that letter.
  • Play “I Spy” with these extras:
    • If he says, “I spy with my little eye a tree,” then ask him, “What letter does ‘tree’ start with?”
    • Play “I spy with my little eye something that begins with f.” Take turns choosing the letter and spying objects that start with that letter.
  • Play with magnetic letters or letter blocks, using their sounds, not their names.
  • With your child’s help, fill a big bowl with 10 things you can find around the house that start with a given letter. Do a different letter every few days.
  • Get your pencils out. Writing is a great way for children to associate initial letter sounds with words. Have your child help make a shopping list by writing the first letter of each word on the list.
  • Use index cards or Post-its and label objects around your home. Ask your child to find objects using the first letter sounds. Turn it into a game like Hide and Seek to find words that start with certain letters.


Learning to Use Initial Consonant Sounds

“Self-Prompting” and “Cross-Checking”

When a proficient 3Y reader comes to the new word on each page of a Yellow book, he gets his mouth into position to make the sound of the first letter. THEN he looks at the picture for something that starts with that letter sound.

  • Model for your child: Point to every word as you read it aloud. When you get to the one new word on the page, stop and make the sound of the first letter. Look for something in the picture that starts with that sound and makes sense, then say the word. For example: “This one rides in the /d/, /d/, dirt.” Point to the dirt in the picture as you say the word dirt.
  • Ask your child to try reading the rest of the book. When he gets to the new word say, “Get your mouth ready for that letter sound.” Look at your child’s mouth to see if he is ready to say something that starts with that letter. Then ask, “What starts with that sound and makes sense?”
  • Ultimately you want your child to self-prompt to use the initial letter sound to help figure out the word in the picture. In the beginning, some children might benefit from your prompts, such as “What letter does that word start with?” or “What sound does that letter make?” or “Do you see anything in the picture that starts with that sound?”
  • Vowels pose extra complexity due to the many different sounds they make in the English language. We avoid vowels at this stage because it can actually slow down your child’s progress. Don’t worry—they’ll come soon enough!
  • Confusing b and d, p and q, or m and w? It’s extremely common for children to confuse these letters, and no, you do not need to rush your child off to be evaluated for dyslexia! The developmental reason is that visual memory trails auditory memory. This “problem” typically corrects itself by the time a child is 8 years old. In the meantime, just immediately—and positively—correct your child by telling them the correct letter; avoid fixating on it. With more practice, visual discrimination will come naturally for most children.
  • Watch for a very cool thing to happen. As your child practices over and over with Yellow books and logs time pointing to all the words, he will gradually begin to automatically recognize some of the most frequently used words in the repeating sentence stems (e.g., the, are, can, is, this). Yes, he’ll start reading words. Lavish your child with some extra praise as he takes another big step in learning to read.

What Mistakes Should I Correct?

  • Make sure your child is saying the repeating sentence stem verbatim.
  • Make sure the one new word on each page makes sense, regardless of what the word actually is.
  • Make sure the word your child supplies for the one new word on each page starts with the first letter sound of the word on the page. Only correct if the letter sound doesn’t match (don’t worry about the rest of the word) and/or if the word doesn’t make sense.

Try the Next Level

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