Year One – Post 22 | How can I help my baby to read?
Reading with your child is the best way to prepare him for learning his letters and numbers. It is best to teach him in a natural manner rather than drill him for letter and word recognition. He may appear to be “reading” words from his favorite books, but more than likely, he has memorized the words through repetition from listening to you read them. Oral language is necessary prior to learning to read; children need to recognize the sounds of the letters, in addition to understanding what the words mean. Your child has to understand that you turn the pages of a book a certain way and that you read the words from left to right. Letters and words are abstract concepts (they are not objects, actions, feelings, sounds, etc. – they represent, actions, feelings, sounds, etc.)
Here are some suggestions to help you develop your child’s reading and writing readiness. Before you begin, be sure that he is interested and willing to participate in these tasks voluntarily. Reading will continue for the rest of his life, so it is important that he wants to learn.
- Point to the words in his favorite storybook while you read to your child.
- Point out labels on food products, signs on the roadway and logos on products.
- Choose books that have simple words located next to the illustrations. Point to the picture and find the word that corresponds to the text (e.g. Growing Vegetable Soup by L. Ehlert).
- Read books with rhyming words to help your child sort out the small differences in words, enabling him to learn to sound out words (phonetics) and spell them later (e.g. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss).
- Introduce books that have animal sounds (e.g. Lion says, “Grrr”), cartoon character dialogue (e.g. Big Bird) and words and sounds that your child hears in his environment (e.g. school bus, train whistle). Point to the letters and sound them out.
- Use books that change the letters in the words by increasing or decreasing the size, color and location on the page. This allows more opportunity for your child to notice print (e.g. Rumble in the Jungle by D. Andreae).
- Establish “reading time” as a daily event. This can be before naptime, bedtime or dinner. Have your child pick out a book that is age-appropriate so that he has some input as to what you will read. It is okay if it is the same book over and over again – repetition is good for babies and toddlers.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series