How to raise a reader

Learn 5 tried-and-true tips to inspire a love of reading in your child.

Learning Stages

By Shelby Moore


Shelby Moore is a kindergarten teacher at an inner-city school in Houston and was recently awarded as one of the East Region's Campus Teachers of the Year.

Parents of young children often feel pressure to get their children reading early. But putting too much pressure on children may have the reverse effect and backfire—turning them off reading completely. No reason to rush things—really. Perhaps the most important thing you can do as a parent is to foster your child’s love of learning—especially when it comes to reading.

Your child’s kindergarten teacher is likely using hands-on multisensory learning experiences to engage all the different types of learners in her classroom. As a parent, you can support this by looking for stories that include (or are conducive to) music, movements, rhymes and art—the more modalities used will trigger better memory and storage of sounds and words.

The best approach to raising a reader is to have fun! Here’s how:

1. In kindergarten, children start to sound out words and learn sight words. Give your child good reading strategies to help when he comes to a word that gives him trouble:

  • Good readers get their mouths ready to make the sounds in the words.
  • Good readers look at the pictures to see if it will help them with a difficult word.
  • Good readers skip hard words in the sentence and then go back and figure out what makes sense there.
  • Good readers “chunk it”—look for smaller words they know hiding inside larger words.
  • Good readers try a different vowel sound. If the short vowel sound doesn’t make sense try the long vowel sound.
  • Good readers use their knowledge of word families and rhyming words. If he knows c-a-t is cat, then he knows h-a-t is hat!
  • Good readers reread. If it doesn’t look right, sound right or make sense, then STOP, go back and reread.

2. Choose rhyming texts. Rhyming texts make reading more predictive and helps your child feel successful. It also is easy to apply movement and music to rhyming texts, making them multisensory and more fun.

3. Seek out books he likes. Take him to the library and watch what types of books he gravitates toward. Let him choose books that interest him.

4. Encourage him to reread books aloud that he has heard you read many times already. This will help him familiarize himself with the words on the page.

5. Keep reading to your child even after he already knows how to read. Children enjoy listening to a good story and benefit from hearing your voice inflection, pacing and fluency—they become better readers because of listening to you!

Relax and enjoy reading with your child! Allow your child’s teacher to identify any potential reading problems by doing individual diagnostic assessments. Those individual assessments make sure your child is on target or in need of intervention. Following these tips will help lay the foundation for your child’s love of books.