Most parents are under the impression that their child should be a literary genius by the time they are five years old. Force feeding letters and books upon a child, haranguing them to the point that it becomes retroactive is non-productive. What we have found with both of our children, is that they will come to you when they are ready. Once they begin to ask questions about words, such as, " what does this say?", you know they are ready. Our daughter began asking at three years old, and our son at four. We taught them the alphabet when both were three years old, but for a child, it is recognition of the letter and what it is, more than how it forms together with other letters to produce a word. Once the child has mastered the alphabet, and they are ready from themselves to begin reading, is where the fun begins. Start with small one and two-letter words, such as "so, we, me, I, hi" etc. Taking a letter such as "S" for example, and matching the shape of the letter with a snake, and using the sound a snake makes( sssssssssss...), will teach your child to recognize the letter and the sound that accompanies it. Matching the letter "S" with that of "O" produces "So". This should be one of the easiest words for your child to learn.
If your child begins to master two-letter words, then they are ready to progress to larger words. Read to them often. If you are reading a book on your own, invite them to sit with you, and read out loud, trailing your finger over the words as the look on. This helps produce eye-mouth recognition of basic words. Stop on the one and two-letter words, and have them tell you what they are. If they can't, tell them what it is, and move on. Stop at the same word again when you come across it, and have them tell you what it is. Be repetitive. Have fun with it. Act like you're stumped on a word they are familiar with. Stutter on it, then ask them if they can tell you what it is. Watch their faces as they feel a sense of pride in telling you, the parent, a word that you couldn't read!