Encouraging Reading

Does your child listen closely during story time? Does your child like to look through books and magazines? Does your child like learning the names of letters? If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, your child may have already learned some important early reading skills and may be ready to learn some of the basics of reading. Learning to read happens gradually and it's important to support your child and foster interest along the way.

The following are a few tips to keep in mind as your child learns to read:

Reading books aloud is one of the best ways you can help your child learn to read. This can be fun for you, too. The more excitement you show when you read a book, the more your child will enjoy it. The most important thing to remember is to let your child set her own pace and have fun at whatever she is doing. Do the following when reading to your child:

Once your child begins to read, have him read out loud. This can help build your child's confidence in his ability to read and help him enjoy learning new skills. Take turns reading with your child to model more advanced reading skills.

If your child asks for help with a word, give it right away so that he does not lose the meaning of the story. Do not force your child to sound out the word. On the other hand, if your child wants to sound out a word, do not stop him.

If your child substitutes one word for another while reading, see if it makes sense. If your child uses the word "dog" instead of "pup," for example, the meaning is the same. Do not stop the reading to correct him. If your child uses a word that makes no sense (such as "road" for "read"), ask him to read the sentence again because you are not sure you understand what has just been read. Recognize your child's energy limits. Stop each session at or before the earliest signs of fatigue or frustration.

Most of all, make sure you give your child lots of praise! You are your child's first and most important teacher. The praise and support you give your child as he learns to read will help him enjoy reading and learning even more.

The American Academy of Pediatrics gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Reach Out and Read program in the development of this information. Reach Out and Read is a pediatric early literacy program that makes literacy promotion and giving out books part of pediatric primary care. This program is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information about Reach Out and Read, please contact the program at:

Reach Out and Read
National Center
29 Mystic Ave
Somerville, MA 02145

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics