Learning to read is a huge milestone in a child’s life. And even though every child is unique, there are some general guidelines to help you bring out the reader in him. The National Center for Family Literacy and other experts offer their advice.
Ideally, you’ve been reading to your child since infancy. Now your preschooler is ready to be your reading partner. Let your child choose the books he wants you to read aloud (even if he picks the same book every time). Ask him why he selected that book and what he remembers about the story.
Point out the title and the illustration on the front cover. Read the title and the author out loud so your child can see what those words mean. Let your child turn the pages as you read. Follow along with the text, running your finger under the words as you read aloud. Learning how books and print work are important early steps toward learning to read.
As you read aloud to your child, ask questions about what is happening in the story. “What do you think will happen next?” Talk about the pictures in the book. Ask your child to point to the characters or objects that are mentioned in the story.
Look for ABC books that match your child’s interests. You can find alphabetized books on a variety of subjects – animals, foods, machines. Encourage your child make his own alphabet book. Help him cut out pictures from magazines and paste them into a scrapbook, one picture for each letter in the alphabet.
Introduce letter sounds, or phonics. Play sound games at home or in the car. “I see something that starts with buh,” (the b sound). As your child masters letter sounds, start blending them. “B-o-x, buh-aw-ks, box!” This builds a key skill in learning to read. You’ll soon your child attempting to sound out anything that’s written. Encourage and praise these efforts!