Sara is a literacy junkie who longs to run away with Pigeon to drive buses and stay up late. She also discusses the art of simple living at On Simplicity, where she’s slowly learning how to have less and enjoy more.
Getting your little ones ready to read is a huge, complicated undertaking.
Or maybe not.
According to ALA-supported research, if your child has just six early literacy skills mastered by the time they enter kindergarten, then their chances of becoming successful readers rise substantially.
The best part?
These skills are incredibly simple to incorporate into everyday activities. In fact, you’re probably using some of these tactics already.
Ready to give your child the tools they need to be ready to read? Try these 30 simple tactics that are all free and fun!
Does your child think reading is fun? If so, you’ve laid the foundation for a lifetime of reading. To boost print motivation, you can:
1. Smile as you read a book together.
2. Choose funny stories, or topics that your child loves.
3. Let your child choose what books you’ll read together.
4. Use reading time as a reward, never a punishment.
5. You read on your own. Your child models their behavior on you, so if they see you reading, they’ll grow up thinking it’s normal to read for entertainment.
Does your child know what a book is? Does your child know how to turn pages and recognize what letters are? Print awareness is just ensuring that your munchkin understands that reading correlates to words on a page.
6. Let your child turn the pages as you read.
7. Use your finger to follow the print as you read together.
Photo by full*instrumental
8. Let your baby chew on board books. I promise that this counts as a literacy experience!
9. Point out writing as you go on walks or trips. Print is everywhere when you start looking!
10. Hold the book upside down every once in a while and let your child correct you.
Has your child learned their ABCs? Letter recognition is a key component of reading readiness.
11. Keep a set of alphabet magnets on the fridge.
12. Point out the first letter of your child’s name anywhere you see it (cereal boxes, billboards, store signage, etc.)
13. Sing the alphabet song. Try it backwards, too, or with a funky beat!
14. Read alphabet books that have large, clear print.
15. Draw letters together. Use unique or exciting art supplies to keep it fun.
Can your child tell a story? Can they describe events or explain what’s happening? Being able to understand and tell a story is part of learning to read, and it’s important to overall reading comprehension.
16. After you finish a story or TV show, ask your child to retell you what happened.
17. Ask, “What do you think is going to happen next?” as you read a book or watch a movie.
18. Ask your child to tell you a story as you cook dinner.
19. Tell a story while you take a walk. Classics like the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are great ways to show kids that stories can be told in different words and still mean the same thing.
20. Re-read books. (I told you that you were probably already doing some of these!) Hearing the stories again and again (and again) helps children understand the plot and recognize the pattern of a story.
Can your child hear the smaller sounds that make up words? (For instance, “apple” breaks down to “a” and “pull.”) Do they recognize rhyming words like “cat” and “bat”?
21. Sing songs together. In songs, each syllable is naturally assigned a different note, so it’s super-easy for kids to figure out the different components of words.
22. Play rhyming games. Take turns coming up with nonsense rhyming words.
23. Sing nursery rhymes together.
24. Discover words together that start with the same letter as his or her first name.
25. Clap out syllables to words, like bal-loon or um-brel-la. This is fun to do when you read board books that have one word on each page.
Does your child have a big enough word bank to help them recognize and use words they see in print?
26. Take a discovery walk, where you identify items you see.
27. Offer the name of an item when your child points to something or asks for the “thing.”
28. Read the words on a page as they are. Don’t replace big or challenging words with easier ones. They’ll have an easier time recognizing those words when they do start reading if they’ve heard them a few times before.
29. Ask follow-up questions and add details to their responses. (“It’s a bird.” “Yes, it’s a bird with blue feathers.”)
30. Just talk to each other. Talk about your days, your feelings, what you’re doing (“Now I’m stirring up the batter. Do you think it will taste good?”) Use the same words as you would when talking to a friend.
How many of these things do you already do? Which ones do you think you’ll add to your family life?