Children begin their journey towards reading at a very young age, learning aspects such as intonation even while still in the womb.  Use the weekly helpful tips to help your child start on the right path towards reading.
  1. Read What You See: On a day to day basis we, as adults, often neglect to realize that writing is everywhere: on signs and billboards, in stores, in restaurants, etc.  Rather than reading something to yourself, share your knowledge of the written language with your child.  For example rather than reading a menu to your child at the restaurant, allow your child to look at the menu with you.  Instead to A-lining directly to your favorite cereal in the supermarket, point out the different names of the cereals and allow your child to make those early associations between letters and sounds.
  2. Read to Your Child at Night: Everyone knows how valuable reading to your child at night, but why not take this tradition a step further.  Rather than facing your child and holding the book so that all they can see is the cover of the book, try lying next to your child, so that they can read along with you.
  3. Re-Read the Same Books: Although we all want to give our children variety, it is often good to re-read books that your children like, particularly if the book has repetition within the text.  As was mentioned in a previous tip – allow your child to see the words while you read.  Eventually your child, through some memorization and sight recognition, will be able to read along with you and maybe even “read” to you.  This will promote not only letter and word associations but also an excitement and enjoyment connected with reading.
  4. Always Bring a book: when going out if is helpful to bring toys to keep your child occupied.  Try to include a book in your bag of tricks.  Even if your child is too young to read, wordless books are available.  Allowing your child to interact with the book will promote early literacy skills such as reading from left to right, turning pages and sequencing.  Your child will also become more comfortable around books, making them more likely to enjoy reading later in life.
  5. Naming Objects: When a book or print is not available try just naming objects you see around you.  This will improve your child’s vocabulary and help them once they start to read.  You can also make naming objects into a game – early on a simple “I Spy” game, once your child knows the alphabet naming object you see based on letters.
  6. Tell Stories: Verbally telling stories to your child will promote your child’s awareness of the narrative structure that many stories use.  It also allows children to hear stories from different points of view, opening them to different literary genres in a simple way.
  7. Rhyming Games: Early-on an easy way for children to have access to sound awareness is rhyming.  Whether it be in songs or simply silly talking – even using nonsense words, rhymes will help your child to improve their understanding of sound to letter relationships when it comes time for them to start reading.
  8. Associate Sounds and Textures: reading pop-up books or books that ask your child to touch something on the page either for texture or sound helps to keep your child interested and associate various senses with the written words.  You can also associate your own sounds or textures with a book.  For example, when reading a book about the sky allow your child to touch a cotton ball – representing the clouds.
  9. Labeling: Place index cards with the names of objects around your child’s room – or even the entire house.  This was your child will become familiar with the way that certain common words look.
  10. Narrate Playtime: While you and your child are playing, talk about what he/she is doing and what you are doing.  Ask questions – even if your child is not yet talking - and allow time for your child to respond, then give an appropriate response to your question.  This will help to expand vocabulary as well as make narrative structure and comprehension available to your child.  
  11. Narrate What You Are Doing: Even if it feels silly, talking to your child in your normal voice and informing them of what is going on while he or she watches you.  Ask questions and respond to them appropriately.  This is another opportunity for your child to expand vocabulary.
  12. Pick-up YOUR Favorite Book: allow your child to see you reading.  This will help your child feel comfortable with books and see that reading is an enjoyable and relaxing activity.
  13. Ask Questions: When reading to your child stimulate the reading experience by making them consider what is being read.  Use questions about who, what, where, when, why and how, what’s going to happen next, was the character happy when a certain event happened in the story?  Keep your child engaged throughout the story and promote comprehension.
  14. Praise and Encourage: Let your child know that they are doing a great job when reading or talking about something that they read, heard or even saw on TV.  This will help to keep them interested in reading and make them feel good about what they have done.
  15. Re-Tell Stories or Events: asking a child to repeat a story is one of the best ways to make sure it was understood.  After you have read a story to your child ask them about the story, see if they can retell you the story using their own words, with or without using the pictures from the book.
  16. Visit the Library: Don’t forget about the library! With the easy accessibility of the internet fewer and fewer people are visiting libraries.  Use this great FREE resource to give your child access to a vast number of books and let your child pick a book that he/she wants to check out.  Consider getting your child a library card.  Giving your child a feeling of ownership and choice with motivate him/her to read more.
  17. Make Different Kinds of Print Available: Let your child see that print is everywhere! Don’t get stuck in a book reading rut!  Also read the newspaper (yes, comics also count!), magazines, DVD covers, instructions…words are everywhere, let your child see and understand that!
  18. Don’t Just Read: Use various forms of print – newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, shoe boxes – to make art projects.  Make collages with words and letters cutting up magazines and newspapers using the words to make a work of art with the help of scissors, glue, crayons, markers, and whatever else you can find.  This will make words and reading more fun and interesting.