Your Preschooler

Reading is essential to success in school and beyond.

Children must develop a range of early literacy skills before they can learn to read. Five simple practices that parents can use to help children get ready to read are talking, singing, playing, reading, and writing.

Talk

Your child's vocabulary and language skills grow through day-to-day conversations and experiences.

  • Talk about what you are doing throughout your day. Ask questions and allow your child plenty of time to formulate answers. Then respond to extend the conversation.
  • Include her in family conversations.
  • Ask her open-ended questions and try to answer all of her "why" questions. Look up answers in a picture dictionary together.
  • Tell stories about your day or make up stories together.
  • Talk to your child in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn easily from you.
  • Help her identify her emotions with words or names.

Sing

Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words.

  • Sing the alphabet song and nursery rhymes.
  • Sing the stories in books.
  • Playfully change the first letter in words to create new rhyming words.
  • Repeat songs and add actions, such as clapping, waving, or pointing.
  • Sing along with children's music.
  • Make up your own songs!

Play

Play helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words. 

  • Allow your child plenty of unstructured play time to foster your child's imagination.
  • Encourage him to tell stories with his stuffed animals.
  • Explore different ways of moving, such as tiptoeing, hopping, sliding, and stomping.
  • Take your child new places so he can see and learn about new things.
  • Play outside!
  • Give your child the opportunity to play with other children so he can learn about cooperative play.

Read

Reading together is the most important way to help children get ready to read on their own. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn how to read.

  • Read story books as well as factual books.
  • Engage your child by encouraging him to say words in the book with you. Help him understand that you are reading the words, not the pictures.
  • Ask questions about the story. Ask your child to make predictions about what will happen next. Ask your child to tell the story again when the book is finished.
  • Read every day as part of a bedtime routine and at spontaneous times throughout the day.

Write

Reading and writing go together. Demonstrating the value of reading and writing lays a foundation for the desire to learn those skills.

  • Provide opportunities to draw, write, and develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
  • Write captions about your child's drawings.
  • Have your child help you write the grocery list.
  • Help your child learn the first letter of his name and then point it out whenever you see it. Then do this for the rest of the letters in his name.
  • Encourage your child to write his name.
  • Write stories together.

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® is a program of the Association for Library Service to Children and Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association. Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® is a registered trademark and is used with permission.