Any teacher will tell you that reading is important. It doesn’t matter if they teach in private schools in Redmond WA or public schools in Charlotte, North Carolina: Early literacy is essential in developing young brains. Reading contributes to language, vocabulary and writing skills, so foster these habits as early as you can.

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Raising a Reader

As a parent, there are many ways that you can help your child learn to love the written word. It starts at infancy and continues throughout their whole life. Some of the best ways to encourage reading include:

  • Singing and rhyming with your little ones, even when they are babies. They will notice language patterns and become familiar with words that sound the same. Teach them songs and poems. Before you know it they will be singing along with you!
  • Read to your child every day, from birth until they are old enough to read to themselves. This familiarizes them with hearing and understanding words and down the road, recognizing letters and sight words.
  • Even picture books have a place in kids’ literacy skills. Hearing the words and understanding the story will help them connect with and make sense of the pictures.

Ask Questions

As your child gets older and begins to understand more and more words, begin to ask them questions while you read.

  • Before reading a page, ask about the pictures. “Why do you think she’s holding the football? I wonder why he’s wearing a flower shirt?” This promotes inquisitive thinking and prompts your child to examine their own thoughts.
  • Help them learn emotions and social cues by looking at the characters. “Does he look sad? I wonder why?”
  • Don’t skip over or simplify big words. Take them as a teachable moment and explain their meaning as you read. Using big words will build your child’s vocabulary.

Learning to work with your child in nurturing good literacy habits is a great parenting tool. It is not just good for developing young minds, but it is also a quiet moment that you can share with your children as they grow up.