Reading helps develop the mind, ignites the imagination, and opens up pathways to endless learning. These tips will help you with raising kids who love to read!
Reading is important. I don’t think anyone would debate that. However, knowing when and how to start down that path to teaching your kids to love reading can be confusing. It’s a topic I’ve researched quite a bit, but I’ve also taken full advantage of one of the best sources available to me- my friend, Alison. She has a BS in Elementary Education as well as a Masters in Education in Literacy. She is obviously passionate about kids and reading. I’m grateful she has shared so much of her wonderful insight with me over the past few years. It has worked so well for our family and I’m excited to share it with you today!
Let’s start with the most obvious.
Read aloud to your child.
Then read aloud some more. This is often one of the most common suggestions, but making sure you do it early and often is super important. Read to your child before you think you should. Read your child books IN THE WOMB. If you have an older child at home, you are probably doing this without realizing it. But for first time moms – read to your belly. No joke. If this is ridiculous to you or impossible, then read to your baby starting the day you get home. Every day. Make it part of your daily routine. 15-20 minutes every single day. This can be in 5 minute intervals or all in one shot. The more you read, the more they hear different words, the way you read with expression, the speed you read, and the way you speak. Vocabulary is one of the best early indicators of a child’s success in reading.
Narrate life to your child.
I’m so glad this is a suggestion because when I started doing it when Hailey was a baby, I felt like a crazy person. However, I found it would hold her attention, so I walked through life narrating my every move. Now I’m emptying the dish washer. Oh look, a fork. The fork goes in the silverware drawer over here. You get it. I sounded nuts, but kids learn vocabulary and speaking from you, so chat it up!
Let young kids “pretend read.”
When kids are young, let them make up the words to stories they may know well or just make them up by looking at the pictures. This gives them confidence and helps them use the pictures as context clues. It also can spark the joy in the adventures and stories that reading will bring to them.
Talk about letter names AND letter sounds.
I remember talking with Alison in length about this one, as she told me how important it is for kids to know sounds, maybe even before letter names. Work on naming uppercase and lowercase letters (usually starting with upper), but also concentrate on the sound they make, since that is what will help with reading. Recognizing”D” is good, but knowing it says /d/ will be essential in learning to read.
Practice pulling words apart by the sounds.
Pull apart the letter sounds in simple words, like D-O-G and then put it together to get DOG. One book I’ve used with Hailey, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, employs a technique that has really worked for us called “say it fast” and helps to take individual sounds and push them together to read a word.
Have your child take apart DOG and ask them what sounds they hear. This is phoneme segmentation and blending and being able to manipulate the sounds in words helps kids learn how to decode unknown words. You want this skill to become automatic. You want them to know the sounds and break them apart with speed AND accuracy so that decoding an unknown word while reading a text doesn’t take too long (which then impacts comprehension). Have them tell you what sounds they hear at the beginning of the word, then once they master that move to identifying the sound at the end of the word, then tackle the sound in the middle of the word. We are just talking sounds — even if they don’t know what that sound is called (the letter name) they can still tell you what they hear.
Talk about the books you read to them.
Once your kids are past infancy and are able to be more engaged in the stories, take it another level and talk about books with your kids. Discuss the who, what, why, when, where, and how. Hailey loves this “game” and will go on and on, basically retelling me the story. At Kaitlyn’s current level (2 years old), I have her point things in the book out. For example, the dog is on the ladder. Can you find the dog? Then she will point to it on the ladder, helping her to learn new words (ladder) within the context of the story.
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Listen to books.
Check your local library, as ours has a good selection of both song and story CDs for the car (which the girls LOVE), as well as CDs that come with books so kids can follow along, and finally CDs that are full of just stories, which is what we are currently listening to in our car. The one we have now is 5 CDs worth of Disney stories, but I am looking at getting this music/story combo since it’s Kaitlyn’s favorite show.
Talk about rhyming words.
In the early years, start talking about which words rhyme. Ask them: do these rhyme? Can you rhyme with this word? Can you tell me two rhyming words? Being able to segment words into single phonemes is a great predictor in the child’s ability to later decode words.
Read what interests your kids.
Get a library card and let them go crazy. Ok, not crazy, but let them decide which books interests them and read those. We do a lot of ocean and space, since Hailey is really into those topics. Oh, and plenty (and plenty and plenty) of princesses. Hailey’s hands-down favorite current book is Illustrated Fairy Tales. The stories are a little quirky, have a good amount of detail, but are short enough to make ideal bedtime stories. In fact, I am in love with all of these books since discovering them at a homeschool conference. They are so well-made, sturdy, and entertaining that I plan on ordering several more soon.
Get into series.
There are so many wonderful series available for kids. Getting kids hooked on certain characters will fuel their desire to read more. I mean, how many other people loved The Babysitters Club as much as I did?! Also, don’t discount magazines and non-fiction, which can work well for reluctant readers.
Don’t use reading as punishment.
Keep a positive connotation with reading. Make it fun and pleasurable; never enforce reading as discipline.
Let them see you read and enjoy reading.
Oh I am so anxious to have a family reading hour, but until then I try to pull out one of my books, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, while the girls play. I want them to see me enjoying books too.
A special thanks to Alison for sharing her knowledge with me and now with you. Developing reading skills and sparking excitement over books starts at home, long before school comes into play, so let’s keep pulling out those books (even that same one over and over and over!).
What has helped spark your child’s interest in reading?
What are you child’s favorite books?
I’m thinking of ordering this set for Hailey’s birthday in September.
For more on teaching kids to read, Alison recommends this book.
Thanks so very much for letting me share for this post Brittany. I have such a passion for reading and know how crucial it is to start young with your kids to set them up for success; it’s our duty as parents! So- go on- tell your kids you are finishing up reading a “story” (this blog) and then go read with your kiddos! (Ps- kids who can read should read at least 7 chapter books on their level over the summer so as to not “lose” progress).
I started reading to my son before he was born and at almost two years old he is crazy for books. He loves the rhythm, exploring and also signals different times of day (rest time or time for bed). I am so glad he loves reading and will definitely take some of your tips with me as he grows and starts to read on his own!
Amanda McNutt says
This is SO FUNNY because I just searched high and low for a way to order Usborne books and found the site you’re referring to. They came yesterday! My 10 month old is obsessed with the touchy feely series and I purchased a few others as well. You cannot beat the quality!
I’ve always been a bookworm, so not only do my kids often see me with a book, but there are books in every room of our house and we’ve been reading to them every night since they were babies. Both of our kids love books and some nights it’s hard to get them to go to sleep because they’re always asking for just one more. Our 2 year old is at that stage where she really loves to “read” me and our 4 year old is showing interest in learning how to read on his own. I’ve been looking at that book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and think it might be time to pick it up.
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul says
What great tips! I’m a bookworm so I need to remember to check this out when I have little ones.
Lynn Thow says
Coming from a former kindergarten teacher, these are all wonderful tips! I truly miss the sweet days of reading to my own children.
Love this post, Brittany! Thankfully my parents used many of these methods (I fondly remember our family reading time where my brother and I took turns reading chapters from ‘The Secret Garden’ and several others)! My husband and I now put a ton of emphasis on reading with our son (age 2), and he loves pulling out books to read. I feel encouraged that we’re using lots of these tips already, but there are several that I’m going to work harder to incorporate (books on CDs from the library, and making sure to read a physical book rather than just Kindle books while my son is around!) Keep posts like this coming!
I hope to do all these with my daughter who is 6 months old 🙂 Quick question – where did you get the purple and white polka dot chair in some of the pictures?
Brittany Dixon says
Hi Sam! The chair is from Pottery Barn Kids. Both the girls have had one since their first birthdays and we use them everyday!
Awesome thank you! 🙂
I love this post! Such great tips. I can’t wait to have a reading hour when my kids get older, too. My mom had us do this as kids and now I see how important it was!! Which other Usborne books have you gotten or plan to get? Would love some additional suggestions! We have a 4 year old boy, 2 year old girl, and 6 month old boy…..so two of mine are close to your girls! I love reading your blog each morning while nursing the baby! (M-W-F now 😀) Keep it up!!!!
We love the Usborne books too! And my daughter loves all their Fairy Tale books. She will read anything with a princess or mermaid in it.
We did a lot of sounding, rhyming, looking for letters and words in the car. I really think it helped my son learn to read early. Also he memorized his favorite books and then I think remembered the words in other books.
Jessie @ The Acquired Sass says
Nowhere close to being a parent yet, but I was as a child, and still am quite the reader. I vividly remember my Mom (who won Mom of the year for this) staying out super late to get me the next Harry Potter book when it was released at midnight. Which I then read straight through on our back porch. Finishing it in one day.
My Dad & I read every night together before bed. Usually we alternated, he would read a few pages, then I would read a few. But always my choice of book. Even if at 10 I decided I wanted to read the Hobbit & Lord of the Rings, which may have been a bit advanced. But we read it!
Love these tips & I think you’re going to have some readers on your hands. 🙂 Which is such a wonderful thing!
Family reading hour? BRILLIANT!! I am definitely going to implement this one in my house. Thank you for the great suggestion.
John J. says
Great tips presented by a great teacher/Mom!
July 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm
Family reading hour? BRILLIANT!! I am definitely going to implement this one in my house