Becoming Reading Ready: 6 Steps to Develop a Strong Early Reading Foundation in Newborns to Three Year Olds

On average, children learn to read between the ages of five and seven years old.  However, reading doesn’t just start at some magical age; as a parent, you need to make sure that you are helping your child to become “reading ready.”  Below are six ways to encourage and develop your child’s love of, and foundation for, reading, starting right from birth.

Reading Ready from Birth to 1 Year Old:

1)  Talk, sing, recite rhymes and do finger plays with your baby.  By just listening to you speak, your child will learn spoken language and begin to build a strong foundation for reading.  Just remember, that as you talk and sing, make it as conversational as possible.  Look you baby in the eyes when speaking, and allow your baby to have a response time before moving on to the next idea.  Even though your baby may not exactly respond, it gives him time to process what has just happened, another good skill used when reading.

2)  Start setting aside time every day to read together.  Children as young as six months old can begin to enjoy books.  Even if they don’t follow the story just yet, they will love to hear your voice and look at pictures.  Just noticing the direction in which you turn the pages gives them clues about how to read.  Read picture books with your baby snuggled in your lap, and point out the things you see.  This helps develop word association, and puts them on the path to being reading ready.  Bedtime is an ideal time for reading together because it allows some winding down time so your baby can get ready to sleep.

3)  Allow for independent “reading” time for your baby.  Amidst the toys on the floor, provide board books and soft books for your baby as well.  Sure, the books will be chewed and banged around, but they will also be looked at.  This allows your baby to explore books in her own way and imitate how you read.

1 to 3 Years Old:

4)  Continuing to read every day is important, but at this age, allow your child to pick the books you read together.  Yes, you will probably read the same books over and over and over again, but repetition is part of learning.  When your child becomes familiar with a book, have him start finishing the sentences, or have him tell you what is going to happen next in the story.  And when reading new books, allow your child to name objects in the book, or make predictions about what will happen next based on the pictures he sees.

5)  Take trips to the library.  Kids love experiencing new things, and at the library there are literally thousands of new books to choose from.  Make it an event, don’t just go, pick out a book and leave.  Stay a while and really explore the different types of books to choose from, and maybe even stay for story time.  It is good for children to hear books read by other people as well as yourself.

6)  Continue to encourage, but not force, independent reading time.  You can do this by keeping books in her bedroom, or in a special reading nook.  Make sure there is a comfortable bed or chair next to the bookshelf so she can cuddle up with a book, and that there is good light or a reading lamp.  I always like the idea of reading buddies as well.  Reading buddies can be stuffed animals that the child can snuggle with and read to.  I enjoy b