I am constantly in conversations with other moms about reading. When to teach our children to read, how to teach our children to read, etc... Over the next few weeks, I'll post about several ideas and resources that can help you teach your children to read. You can decide upon the right combination of methods for your individual child.
As far as when to teach your child to read, it really depends on the child. Personally, I wouldn't push a young child. Let their interest guide. But when you've got a child constantly asking "does 'car' start with a 'c' or a 'k?'" or attempting to sound out words in their story books, jump on the opportunity to begin teaching them slightly more formally.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner
My sister swears by this book. She has taught three children to read with it, and they have each become highly successful readers. Basically, the book contains one hundred 15-20 minute lessons, complete with all the prompts you need for helping your child through the exercises.
What I love most about the book: The lessons are all there for me. All I have to do is sit down with Blaine, go through the prescribed activities, and we're done. Zero prep.
The only drawback I've found: The lessons are written in black, white, and red. Some days Blaine wants something a little more exciting or stimulating. So, on those days, we do something different.
Overall, I love to recommend this book to people. Blaine enjoys it, it's easy for me to use, and--most importantly--it works!