Reading is one of the most fundamental skills your child will ever learn, and strong reading habits starts with you. It will be a long journey, but it will be filled with rewarding milestones and cherished memories.
In the article below, I have tried to outline core concepts and provide some basic materials to help you set up reading time for your child. In the end, remember that the most important thing is to instill a love of reading early so that their love of reading can continue and grow as your child does.
Phonics is also an important part of learning how to read. To get more help with that, check out our vowels and consonants phonics page.
The Advantages of Raising a Strong Reader
Research shows that children who are exposed to reading more often do better academically, and have overall better mental and cognitive abilities than their peers. Early reading also provides children with the best foundation for language learning as they grow. If you hope to raise a bilingual child, it is never too early to get started familiarizing them with their second language and getting them interested in reading in English.
Reading to Newborns
It may seem early, but you can begin to read to your newborn as early as you like. Obviously, they won’t be contributing much at this stage, but speaking with your baby and having them look at black and white pictures can help with their mental development. It will also be a great way for you and your family to bond with your child at this young age.
Reading With Young Children
As they grow older, you can begin to bring in color pictures or buy books that include touch and feel for them to play with. As your child begins to speak you can start working on basic phonics and reading with your child. You don’t need them to read whole stories, but encourage them to sound out basic words that include sounds and letters that they have already learned. Choose books using two metrics: does your child want to read this book and is it at an appropriate level for them.
The Role of the Library
If you are lucky enough to be somewhere that has a good public library that has English books, then this can be a wonderful resource once your child is old enough. Trips to the library can be a special thing to do in the week. Many libraries include kid areas where they can explore the many books around them. This gives children a chance to be in charge of their own learning by letting them pick the books you can read together that week.
Tailoring Reading For Your Child
Reading time should be a fun thing, but every child has a different idea of fun. What kind of reading does your child like? Do they like animated voices and actions to engage them in the story? Or do they like a quiet, cozy atmosphere where they can settle down before bed while reading a story? Is it a mix somewhere between the two? Will you be the sole storyteller, or will your child help out by sounding out certain words?
Don’t worry too much if your child doesn’t want to be an active reader because children learn a lot by listening and absorbing the language around them. When thinking about how you want to design your storytime, think about where you will read, how you will read, and who will be reading. If you do all of this, and design a storytime that is unique to your child, you can help make them real life long readers.
As your child begins to read for themselves, it may be worth exploring bilingual books. These books include two languages so that bilingual readers can practice reading in both of their languages. Bilingual books can also help readers by providing them with a translation in their dominant language to help them through trickier parts in their second language. If you are teaching your child English as a second language, there is usually a large selection of popular children’s books that are printed in the bilingual format.
5 Early Childhood Authors to Start Reading With
1. Dr. Seuss
The ultimate classic author of children’s books. Your children may already be aware of his works as many have already been turned into Hollywood Movies. Crazy illustrations and daring rhymes make his books a favorite of all children.
2. Robert Munsch
Author of several best-selling children’s books, Robert Munsch’s works have been delighting children and parents for the last fifty years. Munsch is responsible for classics like the Paper Bag Princess and Love you Forever.
3. Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg books were personal favorites from my own childhood. He is also one of the best children’s book illustrators of all time. His most famous books include The Polar Express and Jumanji, both adapted into successful movies. Although these stories will be difficult for young learners, the beautiful illustrations will be more than enough to draw them into these amazing worlds.
4. Stan and Jan Berenstain
A family of bears live their lives and learn lessons along the way. This is the plot of the Berenstain Bears, a staple on my bookshelf growing up. Imaginative plots and wholesome lessons make this a wonderful series to read to your child.
5. Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Famous for their “If you…” titled books, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond tell silly stories with heartwarming endings. Although “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” is their most famous work, I would highly recommend you look into anything by this duo.
3 Great YouTube Channels That Read Children’s Storybooks
You can use this list of YouTube channels to get ideas for how you can read with your children. It should not replace your own storytime, but it can give you a good idea of what stories are popular, and how to use voices to make the stories engaging to children.
Storytime at Awnie’s House
The StoryTime Family
Reading is an incredibly important way you can help your child develop and grow. Not only can it be a precious time to spend with your young one, story time can instill a love of reading that will last a lifetime.
When thinking about how to read to your child, remember that the important thing is that they enjoy it. Books are a fantastic way for children to learn languages, and by starting them early, you can help them succeed throughout their life.