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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Introduce Your Young Reader to the “H Brothers”

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Once young readers learn to blend letter sounds, they can easily sound out a new or unfamiliar word—that is until they encounter one of the “H Brothers!”


The “H Brothers” are consonant digraphs. Consonant digraphs consist of two consonants, joined together to make a single, distinct phonetic sound.


However, “consonant digraph” is not a term you want to use with young readers. So, in my first grade classroom they are known as the “H Brothers.”


The five most common “H Brothers” are “th,” “ch,” “sh,” “wh,” and “ph.”


Here are some fun and memorable sentences to help your child decode the sounds of the “H Brothers:”


  • Theo is thinking about sticking out his tongue every Thursday. (“th”) 


  • Charlie is a train engineer, and likes to say “Choo,choo.” (“ch”)


  • Sheldon is shy and likes it quiet.  Shhh! (“sh”)


  • When Whitman tries to whistle, all that comes out is “Whhh.” (“wh”)


  • Phil likes to practice phonics on his phone. (“f”)


Help your child practice one “H Brother” at a time. Have her look for the “Brothers” in the beginning, middle, or end of words.  (thin, feather, path


Let your child draw pictures of the “H Brothers,” and help him write the sounds they make. Keep the pictures handy for a quick reference. 


Automatic recognition of letter sounds, blends, and digraphs will dramatically increase your child's reading fluency rate. 


A good reading fluency rate is so important because it directly leads to increased reading comprehension.



#1 Amy Mackenzie 2012-03-13 00:05
Great article! Reading fluency is a critical step in the foundation of reading comprehension.

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