Reading – How Parents Can Help

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Since learning to read is closely linked with language growth, providing situations to develop the child’s language and reading abilities is of paramount importance.


Develop an interest and a positive attitude to reading in a relaxed home reading environment.
Read the child’s story books aloud.
Allow children to handle and care for books.
Use reading as a tool for communication in the home, e.g. notes on the refrigerator, bulletin / boards, etc.
Read letters received to the children.
Join the local library and go there as a family.
Display, at all times, a positive attitude that reading is important and pleasurable.
Read yourself, and be seen to be reading by your children.
Read to your child and with your child.

Read ‘incidental’ materials:

labels on groceries
family notice boards
family letters and greeting cards
gardening instructions
instructions on toys, games, construction and craft kits
maps, street directories
shop signs
TV commercials and captions
newspapers and magazines

Provide a variety of materials at suitable interest and development levels. Many are published as inexpensive paperbacks.

Give books as a reward for a job well done or as a gift.

Buy your child a bed lamp and use that special time before ‘lights out’ for reading.

Read numberplates on cars, making words from the combination of letters.

Read signs:
railway stations
directions and distances

How to Choose a Good Book

1. Pictures should be clear with not many objects on a page.
2. Books should have a picture story that makes sense without the printed words.
3. The story should be appropriate for the child’s age level.
4. Include books that teach new speech sounds, concepts (such as farm animals, things we wear, parts of body), or morals (how to share, make friends etc.).

Books should help add new words to the child’s vocabulary (i.e. either receptive or expressive vocabulary) such as picture dictionaries.

How to Read a Book with Your Child

1. Let your child choose the book and pages to read.
2. Sit together for as long as the child is interested.
3. Hold the child in your lap or put your arm around him or her.
4. Let him or her help hold the book and turn the pages.
5. Point to the pictures as you talk about them.
6. Let your child help describe the pictures and tell the story to you. If your child is just saying sounds, imitate their sounds and provide new sounds and words for him or her to imitate.
7. You tell the story, but gradually with time, leave out words or parts of sentences for your child to fill in.
8. Show delight and enthusiasm as you read the books.

Hints for Listening to Your Child Read

Before reading, talk about the cover, the title, the pictures, and discuss what the book may be about.

During reading, discuss the story so far and try to guess what happens next.

After reading, talk and ask questions about the story and the pictures.

Take turns reading a harder book together. Beginning readers can read the repetitive parts and more experienced readers can read a paragraph or a page.

On finding an unknown word:

Pause to give your child time to work out the word.

go back to the beginning of the sentence, or read past the difficult word to the end of the sentence;
look for a clue in the picture or the words;
look at the first letter and think about what the word could be;
ask, “Does this make sense?”;
try to sound out the word; and/or
if necessary tell your child the word

Praise your child for trying even if mistakes are made.

What you can do at Home to Help

1. Be yourself. Involve children in everyday conversations.
2. Read aloud to children. It helps them to learn the language of books and will encourage them to enjoy books and reading.
3. Talk about books, read together and make reading an enjoyable, shared activity.
4. Make sure there is a wide range of reading material for your child at home, both fiction and non-fiction.
5. It is important to read to your child in your home language if your first language is not English. Experience shows that using your home language will help your child to learn to read in English.
6. Try not to let television intrude on reading time. Make a special time for reading with your child, away from interruptions.
7. Listen to your child read every day, even for a short time.
8. Give books as treats and presents.