Creating a reading-friendly home

Learning to read is one of the most important skills your child needs for school and life success. Start at home, now, to encourage growth.

By Jan Powell, M.S. & Sharon Sutton, Ed.D.


Jan Powell is a reading specialist with an advanced masters degree in reading at Corinne Seeds University Elementary School, University of California, Los Angeles. Sharon Sutton is the coordinator of technology and outreach at the same school.

Literacy involves much more than just reading. Listening, speaking and literary appreciation are equally important for developing literacy skills. Creating an environment that encourages these skills, along with reading, can provide your child with valuable tools to increase his enjoyment and success in reading and learning.

A range of experiences to talk about

Exposure to a wide variety of experiences provides wonderful preparation for reading. Cooking, visits to museums and family trips or outings are just some examples. By talking about the activities you pursue, you give your child opportunities to learn new vocabulary to describe his experiences. When your child observes, participates, questions and clarifies what he sees and does, he builds a sense of language that strengthens his understanding of and curiosity about the world. You motivate your child's interest in reading when you answer questions, give explanations and stimulate your child’s thinking. Researching activities beforehand or afterwards can further enhance your child’s experience.

Literary community

Participating in literary activities helps your child to build an appreciation of literature and encourages positive attitudes towards reading. Visiting the local library to check out books, or going to scheduled story times at the library or bookstore, helps your child develop reading routines early on. Your child will increase his knowledge and familiarity of books and authors. When children gather with others around stories and books, they become aware of a larger literary community that enjoys sharing stories and books with others. Through these experiences, your child will identify as a reader and a consumer of books.

Word wonder

Creating opportunities for your child to talk and ask questions about words help him to develop a wider vocabulary base. This also promotes a habit of "word curiosity" that increases your child’s understanding of words and concepts he hears and sees. The more words your child knows before encountering them in text, the more likely your child is to successfully read and understand them.