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Mar 3, 2022

Reading to Your Child: FAQ


As the literacy lead in my school, I worked hard to advance the idea of reading at home.  Books were sent home so that students could read to their parents, practicing the skills that we were working on. But I also encouraged parents to read to their children because I felt that it was such an important part of helping children learn and succeed.  

At what age should I begin reading to my child? 

Begin reading to your child as soon as you can. Not only is a great time to relax and bond together, but your child is learning to listen to the rhythm of the language. They are learning new words and figuring out how sentences are formed. Of course, with very young children use books with bright pictures and very few words on the page. Point to pictures and talk about them. Use exaggerated intonation as you label the pictures.              

When should I stop reading to my child?

Read to your child for a long as they will let you and even longer if possible. Even if they have begun reading books on their own, it is unlikely that they can read books at a level that matches their comprehension and vocabulary. Reading books that are just beyond their independent reading level helps them to continue to improve both of these skills. 

Is there anything else that I should do while reading to my child?

There are plenty of things that you can do to help build your child's comprehension skills. You can 

ask them to predict what they think is going to happen in the story. You can ask them to give you a summary of what happened in the book or section that you just read together. You can come ask them to compare the events in this story to something that happened in their own life. You can ask them if they liked the way the book ended or if they would have had a different ending if they wrote of the story.  There are many ideas online for other questions that you can ask.  

An extremely important point to remember is that reading is more than just saying the words. It is not enough to be able to decode the text on the page. If your child does not understand what they are reading or what they are hearing, they need help with their comprehension skills. 

I can't read English. How can I read to my little children?

It doesn't matter in which language you read to your children in. In fact, it's best if you speak to your children in their first language. It is important that they build strong literacy skills in their mother tongue. These skills can than be transferred to English.  Rather than reading the words on the page, talk to them about the pictures that you see. Read wordless pictures books in your language. Tell stories together. 

We don’t have books at home.

Today, there are many places to access books and other material. The library and used bookstores are just two.  Does your neighbourhood have a Little Free Library where you can borrow books? Maybe your friends can lend you some. You can find sources online.  Reading doesn’t only have to involve books. You can read signs around the neighbourhood and packaging on grocery items. Instruction booklets and game rules are other examples. 


Be a reader yourself

Finally, it is also so vital that your child sees you as a reader. This entrenches the idea that reading is an important part of life. If you value reading, your child will too.  It doesn’t matter what you read, just read. But, put your devices aside for this one. 


Susan is a member of Na'amat Canada Calgary. 

Source for the graphics: momlovesbest.com/reading-for-kids 

The views and opinions expressed in this post are the writer’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Na’amat Canada.