Research has shown that students who are not fluent readers by the end of the third grade are more likely to struggle in school and to drop out of school than those who are. The years prior to third grade, then, are essential for helping your child develop a lifelong love of reading. How does a parent accomplish this?
Read early and often. It is never too soon to begin reading to your child. Some parents begin reading to their child while still in utero. Others begin the day the child is born. If you haven’t started yet, you can begin today.
The goal is to make your child a confident and happy reader. You will find additional tips below which are paraphrased from ColorinColorado.org. These tips are geared for preschoolers but can be used with anyone who is working to build their reading skills.
Read with your child daily. This can become a very special time for you and your child. Let your child cuddle with you as you read together.
Name everything in the pictures. As you read, also name everything in the pictures. This will help your child build her vocabulary. As time goes along, have her name the items in the picture for you.
Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him. Be sure to let your child know how much enjoy this special reading time with him. Share that this “story time” is the favorite part of your day.
Read with expression in your voice. Read to your child with expression and humor. Ham it up a bit to keep it interesting. Use different voices.
Know when to stop. When your child appears to be overly tired or becomes disinterested, it is time to stop. You do not want your child to associate negative feelings with the reading experience.
Have your child be interactive. Have your child discuss things that are happening in the book, make predictions, or say why they think a particular thing happened. Have them ask you questions, too. Point out things in the pictures and ask how they might relate to the story.
Read it over and over. Your child may want you to read his favorite book for the 100th time, but that’s okay. Repetition is one of the ways children learn to read. Use it as an excuse to discuss how we read from left to right, and that we write in the same way, making sure he notices the spaces between words.
Point out printed words everywhere you go. Point out words to your child no matter where you are – the grocery store, post office, restaurant, department store, church, road signs, etc. Ask your child to discover a new word on each excursion.