Learning to read (ie mastering the skill of decoding) is one of the most difficult things
we ask our children to do, but preparing a child to learn to read is remarkably simple. Follow
these 10 tips and watch your child blossom as he or she learns about the magic that is part of
books and reading.
1. Talk with your child. Talk about anything and everything. The more words he hears, the
better his vocabulary will be and the more prepared he will be for listening to stories as well as
learning to read when the time comes.
2. Read to your child. Read to her every day; several times a day if possible. These sessions
do not need to be long, but the more you read, the greater her attention span and comprehension
3. Be seen reading. Children imitate their parents. If you want your child to read, make sure
that he sees you reading frequently.
4. Offer lots of choice. Never underestimate the power of choice as a motivator. Allow your
child to choose books that interest her. Of course, this does not mean that you need to allow her
to read books that are inappropriate, but allowing a child to select the books that interest her
is a wonderful way to engage her attention. You can always broaden the focus by selecting
5. Make books easily accessible. Have them in your home, in your child's room, in the car, or
anywhere else that a child with a few minutes to spare might be inclined to pick one up and page
through it. Remember, there are many sources for wonderful books in addition to this website
(link to Favorites By Age and Grade). Try your local library and used book stores. What makes a
difference in test scores later on is the total number of books read; not where they came from.
6. Offer variety. Make sure there are many different kinds of books available. Vary books on
hand by size, subject, genre, illustration style, etc. You never know what will interest a
7. Make unrushed time available. In our hectic lives, this tip may seem almost impossible to
accomplish. I challenge you to make it a priority. Even 15 minutes of unrushed, unfettered time
can be an oasis.
8. Make reading time cozy. Snuggle up and read a book together or side by side. The
more your child associates reading with you and with positive experiences, the more he will want
9. Offer quiet places. Having a quiet place to curl up and read is particularly inviting and
important for young children who are just learning.
10. Establish a reading routine. Children thrive on routines and eagerly anticipate whatever
routine you set. Keep it simple; look for times that a few minutes spent reading can be fairly
easily fitted into your existing routines. A book before bedtime, a trip to the library, or
reading while waiting for a sibling are all great ways to start.
No doubt you have noticed that many of these steps can be combined. None of them are complicated.
It just takes some thought and consistency. Add one or two of these steps to your day and you will
be amazed at the way the results spill over into other parts of your life. Children who enjoy
reading tend to watch less television, be more imaginative and are often better able to entertain
themselves. While starting early is best, it is never to late to begin.