Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Checklist for Encouraging a Growing Reader

There are many ways that you can encourage your child to become a reader.  In the younger years, it is mainly about creating a safe, comforting, enjoyable experience around reading.
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Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to make sure that you are keeping on track:

For Babies (6 weeks to 1 year)

  • Do we have a comfortable place to read?
  • Is my child happy to be in this place?
  • Am I showing my child the pictures in the book?
  • Am I letting my child point, babble, and help turn pages?
  • Am I changing the tone of my voice as I read to show emotion and excitement?
  • Am I paying attention to how my child responds?
  • What does she especially like?  Am I spending more time on that page?
  • Is she tired and ready to stop?
  • Am I spending time throughout the day talking to my child, pointing out objects and describing what we see and do?

For Toddlers (1 to 3 years)

All of the questions above, plus:
  • Does my child enjoy the book we are reading?
  • Are you letting your child choose at least one of the books you read?  (Yes, children often pick the same book over and over.  This is how they are learning it!  Be patient and willing to read it many, many times!)
  • Do I encourage my child to “pretend read,” joining in where he has memorized a word or phrase?  
  • Do I ask my child questions about the pictures in the book or the story?  (What’s the ducky doing?  What is the little boy wearing?  Where is the little girl going?)
  • When I ask questions, am I giving my child enough time to think and answer?
  • Do I make connections with ideas in the book to things that are familiar to my child?  (Do you brush your teeth too?  Where do you brush your teeth?)
  • Do I notice if he does this on his own?  
  • Do I let my child know how much I like his ideas and encourage him to tell me more?
  • Do I point out simple words for his favorite things like ball, dog, or pig?

For Preschoolers (3 and 4 years)

All of the questions above, plus:
  • Do I point out letters, such as the first letter of her name?  
  • Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify sounds and letters and to make letter-sound matches? (B-b-b Ball)  With alphabet books you can make a game of coming up with other things that begin with the same letter - boat, banana….
  • Do I allow my child to “read” to me?  (What she remembers and using the pictures as clues.  You can always help with this process by pointing to a picture “Remember what the bear saw when he went up the hill?”)
  • Do I point out words in the world around us?  Am I showing her things like Stop signs, Exit signs, menu items, cereal boxes?  

For Kindergartners (5-6 years):

All of the questions above, plus:
  • Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify some printed words?
  • Do I encourage my child to come up with different ways the story could be, such as a new ending?

For Beginning First-Graders (6-7 years):

All of the questions above, plus:
  • Do I give my child the chance to read a story to me using the print, picture clues, his memory—or any combination of these ways that help him make sense of the story?


Children learn step by step in a process that takes time and patience.  They are making connections between print and stories and what they know in the world.  Children will vary a great deal in what holds their interest and in the rate at which they make progress.  This is about teaching your child to enjoy reading. If your child enjoys it, then he is likely to want to learn and will do so more easily. 

How About You?


How do you, or did you, grow your little readers? 

You might also enjoy Creating a Cozy Reading Space and Hey Baby, What Are You Reading.

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