What is Picture Me Reading?

Developed in the 1990s by teacher/educational psychologist Dr. Marlys Isaacson and updated in 2019, Picture Me Reading teaches the 220 (+ 4 extra

Dr. Marlys Isaacson

Dolch high-frequency words using a visual cue embedded in each word on one side of the card.  On the reverse of each card is an auditory cue for context as well as the word with no picture.

** Front of cards
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** Back of cards
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Picture Me Reading enables students to master these vital words with fewer exposures, even before they have learned phonic decoding skills.

Who will benefit from Picture Me Reading?  

  • very young readers

  • anyone with learning difficulties (dyslexia, Down syndrome, autism spectrum, etc.)

  • visual learners

  • children or adults struggling to learn decoding skills

  • students learning English as an additional language 

Our cards can be used as flashcards or adapted to any sight word activity, but we have also produced some books of resources that will give you ideas for lesson planning or activities to use at home:

All of Your Students Can Read

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Are you looking for ideas to make literacy the highlight of your students’ day?  All of Your Students Can Read, 36 Games and Activities to Make Sight Word Learning Fun can help.

We have adapted games that are familiar to you and your children, such as "Doggie, Doggie, Who Has Your Bone;" or "Concentration," or you might like to try some new ones, such as "Deep Sea Diver" or "Word Bank."

Full instructions are provided for each game and activity, making it possible to adapt to all ability levels and group sizes, to use with Picture Me Reading Sight Word Cards, for practice and reinforcement of the Dolch high frequency words.  We’ve included games that help build phonic decoding skills, as well.

Our new edition includes a large appendix of photocopiable resources, invaluable to teachers and parents using Picture Me Reading cards.

Picture Me Reading Dolch Sight Word Riddles

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What child doesn’t love riddles, especially sharing riddles that they have already worked out?

Picture Me Reading Sight Word Riddles is an engaging and efficient way to introduce the Dolch sight words to your beginning readers, in conjunction with Picture Me Reading Sight Word Cards.

These 23 riddles are made up of primarily Dolch words.  Learning words this way instantly encourages comprehension of reading materials, as well as word recognition.  The words HAVE to be read with comprehension in order to solve each riddle.

Our book contains a photocopiable booklet of riddles for the children to illustrate and take home to share with family and friends, showing off their reading proficiency and building confidence in their own ability to learn to read.

Picture Me Reading My Favorite Storybooks

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Did you know that 87% of all of the text in the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham is made up of Dolch high frequency words?

Our book, Picture Me Reading My Favorite Storybooks, gives step-by-step guidance for helping your child read using Picture Me Reading Sight Word Cards and your child’s favourite storybooks.  We provide instruction for teaching high frequency words using nine popular children’s books by Dr. Seuss (Theo. LeSieg,) P.D. Eastman, Robert Lopshire and Mike McClintock.

Picture Me Reading My Favorite Storybooks also includes detailed suggestions for phonics lessons using these storybooks, to help your child with the important task of learning to decode words.  All of these ideas can be adapted to any storybook on your shelf. 

When children hooked on phonics programs have just learned to read, “A fat cat sat on a mat.” or “A big pig did a jig.” your child will be reading “real” books with confidence and comprehension. 

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Nouns are not included in the Dolch word list.  Some learners need visual reminders for all words, so Make Your Own Pictographs will help you make word pictographs for words not included in the Picture Me Reading word cards. 

This book includes 140 witty photocopiable pictograph examples for toys, animals, clothing, food, weather and science words, environmental objects, and common words associated with holidays.  It will show you how to use the shapes of the letters in the word to suggest a picture which will provide a visual clue to the child.  When the picture is gone a visual learner will still "see" the picture and be able to read the word.

Some children will take great pride in coming up with their own "word pictures", or making suggestions for you to draw.  This book will help you get started.

Make Your Own Pictographs

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Thomas Armstrong of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development has written a great deal about multiple intelligences.  He highlights the richly imaginative visualization skills that children have before they enter formal education.

If you say "chair" a young child will instantly imagine a picture of a chair.                    That picture can be turned in different

                 ways, but it is still a chair.


Then they arrive at school and are told that  b  makes one sound and  d makes another, and then they are introduced to  p  and  q.








These are symbols for sounds which change depending on their direction. Some of the symbols have more than one sound, and many change their sound if they are put beside another symbol!  Then they must look at the symbols together and work out what words they represent.  Many children easily make the transition to abstract conceptualization and left-to-right symbolic visual analysis and auditory synthesis (which is what we are asking children to do when we tell them to "sound it out"!) but some do not.

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Suddenly, "Spatially intelligent children who have a flair for imaginative experience ... become strangers in a strange land of barren symbols and ciphers."  Armstrong, T.A., In Their Own Way, 2000.

But, children who recognize on sight eight out of ten words in a sentence can read most of that sentence and, generally (through context clues, phonics or illustrations) can determine the unrecognized words.  Also, and most importantly, they can better comprehend what they are reading than if they have laboriously sounded out each word.

This is where Picture Me Reading can help.


On average, a child or adult just learning to read will need between 30 and 80 exposures to a word before it is firmly embedded in memory, available to be recognized on sight.  'Average' implies that many require far more exposures before mastering words.

The visual/conceptual cues used in Picture Me Reading can speed the process and reduce the number of exposures needed.

Studies highlight the improvement in mastery of high frequency words when pictures are included [such as Arlin, M., Scott, M. & Webster, J. (1979); Meadan, H., Stoner, J.B., Parette, H.P. (2008) and Hedenius, M., Ullman, M.T., Alm, P.A., Jennische M. & Persson, J. (2013).]

There are also numerous studies supporting the importance of mastering high frequency words, in conjunction with learning decoding skills [including Hudson, R.F., Torgesen, J.K., Lane, H.B. & Turner, S.J. (2012); Ferkis, M.A., Belfiore, P.J. & Skinner, C.H. (1997); Browder, D.M. & Lalli, J.S. (1991); l. Browder, D.M. & Spooner, F. (2011).  Many of the high-frequency words cannot be decoded by means of basic phonics - i.e. they, could, one, etc.  Picture Me Reading helps children master high frequency words more efficiently.

As soon as children have mastered a few phonetically regular words using Picture Me Reading, teaching phonics generalizations becomes much simpler. They are starting with words which are as familiar to them as their own name. 


Most children start school recognizing their own name.  Why                              is that?  Their name is so familiar to them that it is                             unnecessary for them to sound it out.  They just know it.                   This familiarity is what Picture Me Reading brings to                          high-frequency words.  Once these words are familiar to the child, learning phonics generalizations is much more straightforward.

Dolch words comprise between 60% and 85% of the text in children's early reading materials. Fluent readers only sound out words they do not already know by sight.  Children who have mastered Dolch words can read with fluency and confidence, focusing on comprehension, and only decoding the words they don't already know.