Since Talia was 1 1/2 we've been using http://www.starfall.com/ to introduce letters and their sounds (along with the regular old-fashioned book-reading!) Now that she is 3 she knows all of her letters and many of their sounds.
That is no record. I've seen sign-language taught babies reading before 2 years of age. But I'm not wanting to make this into a comparison, good or bad, of my child versus the rest in the world. It's just what we do. The key, I'm finding, is small, consistent steps that follow the pace and interest of your own child.
Starfall isn't something we spend hours on a day, or even visit every day. We go through an average of 4 letters each time, 5 days out of the week. This little bit of consistency, though, has shown results. She can spell her name and is getting better and better at writing the other letters on her own.
Along with this we like to play with the refrigerator magnet letters, point at letters in advertisements, and play with how the letters make funny sounds when you put them together in random (and sometimes mom-influenced) strings.
I teach 5th grade Language to children where, thankfully, most still love to read. The 5 or 6 who don't spend those consistent little bits of time in a book, have a hard time in many other subjects. I want Talia to learn to enjoy discovering words and ideas through reading.
Next year we are planning on beginning the homeschooling process, and, while in Guatemala- Starfall has a promising supplementary program for $35 a year that covers not only reading but other basic math facts, music and more which would be great since it's online. (Less to haul in a suitcase!)I am still looking into other curriculum options, but feel free to put in your opinion!
How do you encourage YOUR kids to read?
(p.s. Starfall is not paying me to write this, I just like the program. ;))