Grace was just turning four when my cousin, Sarah, gave me this:
Now I think we've already established that I am not the world's best mother. I don't spend a lot of time playing blocks or playdough with my munchkins. When I get on the trampoline with them (which they beg for every afternoon), I jump happily and energetically for approximately 3 and a half minutes until my knees start to throb and my thighs burn and I have to sit down (and my kids start to whine that I am too old).
But I REALLY like study time with my kids. Watching them figure something out is, like, my favorite thing.
So Grace and I did the lessons in this book together. It wasn't her favorite thing. She hated sitting still for ten minutes at a time, but I rewarded her with stickers, and by the time kindergarten started, she was reading pretty well.
I haven't known when to start with Claire. I didn't want to start too early and get her frustrated, but I didn't want to miss the window of interest either. (Reading is kind of like potty training in that way.) I've looked at the book a couple of times with her in the past year, but she wasn't interested.
Last week she pulled it out on her own and we have been working on it every day since. She's much more self-motivated than I knew. It's funny when your own kids surprise you like that.
Anyway. If you're trying to teach your munchkins to read, and they will tolerate sitting with you for ten minutes or so, this is the method I recommend. I don't follow the script exactly. We do a lot of skipping around.