As a writer, author, and father, I love reading. Not only is it a great form of entertainment, but it’s a vital skill for all children to begin developing early. I have been trying to instill a love of reading in my daughter for the past year and it’s really paying off. We can spend more than an hour together reading various books that she loves. She’s even at the point where she’s trying to read them on her own.
Reading is an Everyday Activity
I read with my daughter every day. Sometimes we read an hour in the morning, and some in the afternoon and then again right before bed. Even when she’s not reading with me I pick up a book and read for my own enjoyment. These activities help equate reading and books with you and the love you have for your child. It helps instill a love of books in them. But reading is more than just you reading the words and turning the pages.
Kids Should be Reading Along
From birth to about two years old I just read books to my daughter. But after she turned two we started working on the alphabet song, not necessarily teaching all the letters and meanings, just the song. This is also when I changed the way I read to her. Instead of just reading, I started tracing below the words with my finger as I said them. It’s a bit tricky as we’re so used to reading silently to ourselves, but eventually it got easier. Reading aloud and pointing to each word helps your kids see that the sounds you’re making and story you’re reading come from the words on the page.
Get Kids Reading Aloud
The pre-reader books generally have few words in them and often repeat words regularly. An good example is the Biscuit pre-reading and Level 1 books, made specifically for kids starting to learn to read. All Biscuit says is WOOF. So it gets repeated on every other page. When I read with my daughter I stop after the first couple woofs show up and sound out the word with her, W-O-O-F. I don’t tell her the letters, I tell her the sounds. This is a great way to help her learn to read. She’ll learn the letters at school, even though she’s already picked up on many of them and not quite 3 years old yet.
The next time Woof shows up, I ask her what the word says. With a little prompting she starts getting it and says WOOF! Biscuit either says Woof, or Woof Woof. So the next step was to work with her and see how many Woofs were on the page. Once I established that W-O-O-F was one Woof, she was able to tell me when there were one or two after a couple reads through the book. That means she’s starting to understand what words are and the associations are starting to cement in her brain.
Kids Reading Alone
I know she can’t read all the words in all the books by herself. But she’s been trying. I often see her with a stack of books and she flips through the pages and talks about the story aloud. I’m sure she’s doing some from memory and some from the pictures. But the important thing is that she’s doing it, without me. She loves books, and that’s what I was going for all along.
Urban Dad Extra Tip
I’ve also included her in library trips. She knows how to return books, though she can barely reach the drop. She knows how to scan my library card, and check books out. I usually get a big stack of pre-reader, Level 1 books and let her pick 8-10 that we will take home and read. I have her carry them so she knows they’re for her. If you’d rather have the books around all the time instead of going to the library, fill a bookshelf with them and set aside a specific reading time. Then go to the bookshelf with your child or children and let them pick several books out that you’ll read with them.
Here are a great list of early reader books from Amazon.
You can also get books loaded onto an Amazon Kids Fire and read from there so you can take them all with you wherever you go. Read my article on Tablet Usage.