Help Your Child Read

One of the most gratifying milestones that my child reached in the last one year is of her becoming an independent reader. It is a joy to hear her read and find her poring over books on her own. Though I cannot claim full credit for her becoming a fluent reader in her own right, there are certainly some strategies that I used which helped her development as a reader.

Help Your Child Read

1. Surround them with books

That’s the simplest thing that you can do really. Children by their very nature are curious beings. Keep something in their vicinity and they are bound to explore. And there is no age bar absolutely. If your toddler is drooling all over your glossy magazine – rest assured that it’s not just the pictures but the words too that are having an impact.

Kidlet’s first ever pram had a cloth book attached to its safety bar. She literally chewed on it for many months, but she would sit in rapt attention whenever I read it out to her.

2. Read aloud

But obviously. Before they can read for themselves, you are the medium between the words and your child. Spend a few minutes every day reading aloud to your child. Choose books with bright pictures and big lettering initially. Point to the words as you read aloud.

I am not a big believer in the flash card methodology of learning to read. Books typically follow a story-line  however short. The context of pictures and stories provides a child with a richer reading experience. And studies have shown that as a child progresses as a reader, it is the context and complexity of stories, which makes them more fluent and helps them build their vocabularies.

3. Lead by example

You cannot expect your child to become interested in reading by merely putting a few books around her. She may show interest in them for a while due to sheer novelty, but the real impetus will come if she sees you reading. It may just be a newspaper or a paperback, but do model your reading habits so that your child can see you.

And if your child asks you what you are reading, do not shy away from responding. Tell them about what you have been reading in the most age-appropriate way possible.

4. It’s not just books

Reading at the end of the day is not restricted to just books. We are surrounded by a world of words. Open your computer, newspaper or window – words are staring down at us. Use this to pique your child’s interest. Indeed, billboards usually make for great reading practice – since they typically have bold and bright lettering. Every time you stop at a traffic signal, play a little game of reading as many words as you can. The same logic applies to almost anywhere that you can spot a word.

5. Don’t compare

Finally, and most importantly, don’t be in a rush to make your child a fluent reader. It will happen – that’s a certainty. But like all milestones – this one too varies from child to child. Some children start reading as early as two! That doesn’t mean you start shoving books down your child’s throat pronto. Encourage and give support but do not hurry your child along or worse still compare with any other kid.

I do hope that these pointers are useful to parents of early readers out there! Do you have any other strategies that could be useful to parents? Do share! And happy reading 🙂

Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom

  • Very good tips, Nidhi!

    • Nidhi

      Thank you Roshni 🙂 hope they help !

  • Well layered good tips! Thank you!

    At the heart of good parenting is stoke curiosity and search in a child. Books come in handy! Am glad we still are talking of reading here, in an age of image consumption!

    • Nidhi

      Oh yes ! We need to talk about reading more now more than ever 🙂

  • madhu dorairaj

    Rule No.5 is the most important!

    • Nidhi

      Haha ! True 🙂

  • madhu dorairaj

    well done!

  • I am an obsessive reader. I love being surrounded with books. Books can perk me up instantly. And reading brings so much pleasure that this is the one thing I want to pass onto my son. I have been reading to him since he was a few months old, reading even my books aloud sometimes (appropriate ones). He will turn 18 months soon and I have found him many times eyebrows scrunched up, in rapt attention, lost in books. Of course, he can’t read right now, neither am I pushing him to. After all, this isn’t a race where one needs to reach first. He is eventually going to learn. What I do is something like in 4th point, arouse his interest by pointing and reading.

    • Nidhi

      Great job Reema! You are on the right track and soon you’ll have your little one giving you competition in the bookworm stakes – which I am sure you wouldn’t mind 🙂

  • Sunil

    Thanks Nidhi,

    Exactly some guidance I was looking for.

    I think i’ve overdone the reading out stories to my daughter bit. She now wants it the easy way out everytime. Reading on her own is a chore and almost a punishment. 🙂 Tips?

    • Nidhi

      Aha! Children are clever that way, no? Making parents do all the work is so much easier 🙂 I would say, don’t force her.. sit with her while reading books that you have read together several times – then take a break and ask her to read a few word/ sentences here and there. Build up like that. All the best !

  • Great advice, Nidhi! When Sunboy was learning to read, we would sometimes play a version of I Spy as we went around town in which I would say, “I spy the letter B”, or (as he read more) “I spy the word ‘Bakery'” and he would have to find it. I think making it as fun as possible is a good tactic, as is making books and reading an integral part of their life as you described! Glad to hear that Kidlet is doing so well. 🙂

    • Nidhi

      Thats a useful tip Kat – I do think that the I spy game is great introduction to letters and eventually words. And thank you – I am so proud of Kidlet as well 🙂