Preparing Your Child To Read

Mothers reading a book on the floor with their child

Reading is one of life’s most important skills. Reading begins with language and how it relates to your child’s world. Creating a language-rich environment will help your child’s vocabulary grow. A print-rich environment may also help prepare your child for reading by making the connection between your child’s world and the symbols we use to communicate. 

Below are some suggestions on the steps you should take for infants through toddlers. Check out our other post for preschool and pre-Kindergarten-age children. 

Infants to One Year 
  • Read simple board books with one picture per page, contrasting colors or simple pictures, and point to the items on each page. 
  • While reading to your child, make faces — it’s fun and your child will notice subtle differences. 
  • Allow your child to point and turn book pages. 
  • Describe everything; name colors, shapes and sizes. 

Toddlers (12-18 months) 
  • Read longer stories to your child and allow them to interact with the book — pointing, turning pages or even turning the book upside-down. 
  • Name objects as your child points. 
  • Make noises! Imitate cars, animals and eating sounds during play. 
  • Speak to your child in a normal tone to demonstrate accurate sound recognition. 
  • Enunciate words of interest like M-M-Mommy. 
  •  As syllables start to represent words, such as “juice” and “more,” expand upon them (e.g., “apple juice,” “Would you like more apple juice?”). 

Older Toddlers (18-30 months) 
  • Read everything —signs, labels, toys and your child’s name. 
  • Take cues from your child — interested, not interested, read or just look at the pictures, read more or stop before the end of the story? 
  • Find and point out shapes and symbols in your home or community. 
  • Recite rhymes and alliterations; pause to allow your child to fill in the last word or phrase. 
  • Play games where symbols lead to action (e.g., two orange squares on the card means to move two orange spaces). 
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