Help your child become a reader

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Just how do you help your child become a reader?

It all starts a lot earlier than you might think. As soon as you start talking to your baby, you are starting a journey which opens up for them the importance of language.

Start the love of books early. When they are babies, cuddle up with them on your lap and look at picture books together. Show them that you are interested in the book and all the wonderful things it has in it.

A lot of our children really struggle with reading for one reason or another. Even more reason to share stories together.

0 - 2

Sharing stories even from a very young age plays an important part in the reading journey. Not only does sharing stories help your child learn language skills, but it a great bonding time for you and your child. Reading to babies and young children, and giving them time to respond, will help make the most of this opportunity. Recognising shapes will help your child to learn to read later on.

Make sure that reading is seen as a fun time for both of you, Find a quiet place where there are no distractions and share a book. Looking at the pictures and talking about them - turning the pages - pointing to the words in the book - all of these things show how a book is read and that the print on the page carries meaning.

Even though your baby won't understand everything you are saying they will enjoy sitting on your lap and listening to you and watching you as you hold the book and point out the words and pictures.

Read and re-read favourite books because the repetition helps children to understand and remember the words they hear.

A good song to encourage the development of phonics when your baby is about one is 'The phonics song from -KidsTV123 - which can be found on YouTube. Here is the link. Phonics song

3 - 4 As your child grows they will get better at hearing and seeing patterns. They will begin to notice that 'dog' and 'dig' have the same sound at the start and that the letter looks the same. As you read with them they will begin to see more and more patterns on the page. Phonics is a word used to describe the sounds that the letters of the alphabet make. Getting to know the sounds of the letters will help your child to read and spell in the future. Go back to the KidsTV123 videos on YouTube and the Phonics Song. There are lot's of games and videos to help with phonics on the internet, I have put links up for a couple  of them.  Oxford Owl - This is a fantastic website with a lot of free online books for you to read with your child. You do have to register but once that is complete you just go to the age group you want and choose from one of the many books they have there.

5 - and beyond Reading together with your child takes some of the pressure off when they are learning to read, and it makes reading more fun. You can read the text together or take turns - you read one page and your child reads the next. Reading together also shows your child that you think reading is important. They can learn a lot about tone and how unfamiliar words are pronounced. The written word is all around us. Point out these words as you are out and about. You child will begin to realise the usefulness of reading and how it brings information as well as a fantastic world of make-believe. When your reading a storybook with your child, make up silly voices and get into character. This is a good way of introducing speech marks as you read the text - you can point them out. When it's your child's turn to read the next piece of text encourage them to take note of the speech marks and say the speech in the voice of a character. Encourage your child to read by giving them books or information about what they are interested in, for example, if they are interested in cars, give them books about cars – it’s a great motivator. Use comics, magazines and newspapers to provide lots of new words and facts. Your child can use the pictures for information about the words they are reading. Start to read longer books to your child. Bedtime is the best time for this as it helps them to settle down for the night.  You can still do the 'paired reading' with longer text. Let your child read more and more of the text as they become more confident. All kinds of text are valid text. Books - comics - information files - e-books - adverts - game instructions - computer games that require reading and much much more. Discuss with your child’s teacher if they are having difficulty reading. Not all children find the process of learning to read easy. Storyline Online is a wonderful resource organised by the Screen Actors Guild of America. Professional actors have recorded lots of children's stories on video. Click the link above to take you to the site. Each video shows the illustrations from the book, and the words of the book appear at the bottom of screen. Sit down with your child and follow the words with your fingers, or let them read along with the actor. Games to play - SPOT THE WORD                        - DINOSAUR HUNT

20 ways to help your child become a reader

  1. Read to your child - start early

  2. Try to read with your child each day - or as much as possible

  3. Look at picture books together and talk about what you see

  4. Identify letters in natural settings

  5. Find a quiet place to sit together and read

  6. Re-read favourite books and nursery rhymes

  7. Ask questions about the book/story

  8. Sing phonic songs together

  9. Play rhyming word games

  10. Read poems together

  11. Segment the words and learn the sounds of the letters

  12. Look for words when out and about

  13. Paired reading with your child where you read part of the text and your child reads another part

  14. Find online books to read together

  15. Encourage reading of comics

  16. Read together information text about your child's interest (football - cats - cars - dollies etc)

  17. Read recipes together

  18. If your child has a favourite film find out if there is a book that goes with it

  19. Be a good reading example - let your child see you read

  20. Learning the alphabet is important but it is more important to learn the phonemes (sounds the letter make)

What are phonemes?

“Phonemes” are the smallest sounds in the English language. These sounds are made up of consonants, short vowels, long vowels, and digraphs.  “PhonemicAwareness” consists of learning those sounds and how to manipulate them within a word.  Digraphs are unique sounds comprised of individual letters like /th/, /sh/, /ch/, etc.

“Phonics” includes learning how to spell those sounds and the various rules that the English language follows.  Phonics is an important components of reading/spelling, but it should never be the main focus. Learning the rules of phonics is simply a tool that helps a child learn to decode and spell. 


Decoding is often referred to as “sounding it out.”  This is an important element in teaching your child to read, but it certainly isn’t the most important.  Once your child knows the sounds each letter makes (which is taught in real, meaningful situations), she is ready to begin putting words together.  When looking at a short word, encourage her to say each individual sound /b/, /a/, /t/,  and then put them together “bat”.

As children decode words with more frequency, they will become more proficient at automatically identifying that word. 

Recognise Early Signs of Trouble

For almost 40 percent of kids, learning to read is a challenge. So in addition to talking, reading, and writing with their child, families play another important role — being on the lookout for early signs of possible trouble. Language or speech problems Children who talk late, who say very few words, who have trouble pronouncing words, or who have difficulty expressing feelings verbally may have trouble learning to read.

Hearing impairment Children who have difficulty hearing the individual sounds in words may have trouble understanding how those sounds connect with letters in written words.

Other warning signs Kids who might have trouble learning to read also may show some of these early warning signs:

Difficulty rhyming words Difficulty learning the alphabet, numbers, or days of the week Difficulty following multi-step directions Difficulty telling or re-telling a story

Let you child see that reading can be fun and it can open up their world

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald
"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss

Find out lot's more about helping your child become a reader by following this link Reading
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