I was a late reader... VERY LATE (and I still cannot spell to save my life). Because of that, I have irrational freak outs that my kids will be the same way.
My Aunt Marilyn (a life-time educator) told me that as long as I read to them a lot and talk about letters and sounds they should be fine. As a result of me probably going a little over board with her advise, and using a few of the PBS shows* as reinforcement, my boys both know all their A-B-Cs and the sound that each letter makes. Peter is actually showing signs of reading by sounding words out!
One of the tools we have are a set of flash cards that make words with a picture of the word above them.
Peter LOVES playing this game, because it is very similar to "building words" in the show Word World.
We put the cards down one by one saying the sounds, then push the letters together (building the word) and he says what it is. Peter is pretty good at actually sounding out the words. Aaron is not, but he still loves to play.
This morning we were playing and the following word came up. As we put down the cards we said the sounds of all the letters, and then I asked what the word was. Aaron pushed the letters together and shouted, "BREAKFAST!"
Then we did it again with this word and he yelled, "MONKEY!"
He will get it one day, but for now I will enjoy his funny answers.
*PBS Shows with a concentration on letters and reading readiness that we have found help:
Word World (this is the one where they "build words")