Reading with Your Child

Black father reading a picture book to young son outside

With this overview, learn why reading aloud to children from an early age is so important, and how to make it a motivating and meaningful experience.

There is no more important activity for preparing your child to succeed as a reader than reading aloud together. Fill your story times with a variety of books. Be consistent, be patient, and watch the magic work.

It's no secret that activities at home are an important supplement to the classroom, but there's more to it than that. There are things that parents can give children at home that the classrooms cannot give.

Start young and stay with it

At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to objects on cardboard pages. Guide your child by pointing to the pictures, and say the names of the various objects. By drawing attention to pictures and associating the words with both pictures and the real-world objects, your child will learn the importance of language.

Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child's life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk.

Even after children learn to read by themselves, it's still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers' understanding and motivate them to improve their skills.

It’s part of life

Although the life of a parent is often hectic, you should try to read with your child at least once a day at a regularly scheduled time. But don't be discouraged if you skip a day or don't always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.

If you have more than one child, try to spend some time reading alone with each child, especially if they're more than two years apart. However, it's also fine to read to children at different stages and ages at the same time. Most children enjoy listening to many types of stories. When stories are complex, children can still get the idea and can be encouraged to ask questions. When stories are easy or familiar, youngsters enjoy these "old friends" and may even help in the reading.

Taking the time to read with your children on a regular basis sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile.

One more time

You may go through a period when your child favors one book and wants it read night after night. It is not unusual for children to favor a particular story, and this can be boring for parents. Keep in mind, however, that a favorite story may speak to your child's interests or emotional needs. Be patient. Continue to expose your children to a wealth of books and eventually they will be ready for more stories.

Talking about stories

It's often a good idea to talk about a story you are reading, but you need not feel compelled to talk about every story. Good stories will encourage a love for reading, with or without conversation. And sometimes children need time to think about stories they have read. A day or so later, don't be surprised if your child mentions something from a story you've read together.

Remember when you were very young

It will help, however, if we open our eyes to some things adult readers tend to take for granted. It's easier to be patient when we remember how much children do not know. Here are a few concepts we adults know so well we forget sometimes we ever learned them.

  • There's a difference between words and pictures. Point to the print as you read aloud.
  • Words on a page have meaning, and that is what we learn to read.
  • Words go across the page from left to right. Follow with your finger as you read.
  • Words on a page are made up of letters and are separated by a space.
  • Each letter has at least two forms: one for capital letters and and one for small letters.

These are examples of hieroglyphics.

pictures drawn on cut out fish

Imagine how you would feel if you were trying to interpret a book full of such symbols. That's how young readers feel. But, a little patience (maybe by turning it into a puzzle you can solve together) is certain to build confidence.

Advertise the joy of reading!

Our goal is to motivate children to want to read so they will practice reading independently and, thus, become fluent readers. That happens when children enjoy reading. We parents can do for reading what fast food chains do for hamburgers? ADVERTISE! And we advertise by reading great stories and poems to children.

We can help our children find the tools they need to succeed in life. Having access to information through the printed word is an absolute necessity. Knowledge is power, and books are full of it. But reading is more than just a practical tool. Through books we can enrich our minds; we can also relax and enjoy some precious leisure moments.

With your help, your children can begin a lifelong relationship with the printed word, so they grow into adults who read easily and frequently whether for business, knowledge, or pleasure.

Adapted from: Helping Your Child Learn to Read. Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.


You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.


Love the article and so true.

I experience with my granddaughter. She points to those on the picture and when you call the name is identify by looking and smiling .

Thank you for this article

I agree with it because reading helps our children's mental capacity. It promotes brain development and language. Parents should be responsible for making sure that their children gain more knowledge through reading.

Reading at an early age not only help young children learn new words and new ways to express themselves,but it also improves their grammar and teaches new concepts.Reading allows children to understand various emotions.

Reading is important to our children so they can to ready and write .
For the is very much important to help them in an early years to like and understanding reading culture.
It good to always make time to the reading aloud with children in our home because the teachers also the parents intervention.
It is important for the parents to start reading with the children so they will make them to find reading exciting,and that is the only way to prepare them to explore the word.

From the article , we understand the importance of helping our children to love and understanding the reading.
It is also our duty as parents to read with them.
We must make time for the reading with our children ,even if they are more than one with different age ,each child has to have his or her schedule and the book according to their age appropriate.
The schools alone they would not able to achieve the best results on results without parents help.

This article give the challenge to all parents and caregivers to read with the children.
It also in force that reading must be the part of our daily life culture.
By so doing our kids will have love and understanding of the word .
It is important to start reading aloud with them ,

Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world.

The love for literature has been passed down to four generations. From my mother to my grandchildren. Books are more than a learning tool. Children develop interests and learn about the world, culture, and all forms of life. Adventures through the words and so much more. My daughter has been reading to her son since he was a baby.

I agree that reading is a lifetime activity. You may not be great at Algebra, History, or etc., but reading is essential as a lifelong learning experience. Comprehension is so important and that comes from Reading.

some will some will not. No one ever read to me And I mainly read for knowledge. I read to my son everyday from the time he was about 2mos old. when he was about a year i read at least 5 books a day to him. when he entered 1st grade 06-07 school year, the reading program had so much reading that he started to hate reading and and only reads what he has to now. However the time I spent reading to him those years caused a closeness in our relationship which is lacking in homes today.

I love reading. It has always been an escape and a way to learn of different cultures and times. Reading to and with my granddaughter has always been our thing. Vivian has actually taught me many things about science and the solar system that I did not pick up on when I was in school.

I agree with the suggestions which are mentioned here. As a mother I did same with my kids and the results were amazing.

My mum read to me each night right into my teenage years - I remember in primary school, especially years 2-3, I would try to read Harry Potter books during class, and other parents would ask how my parents got their children to read so much -- dad would always reply "how do you get yours to stop?" I would read with a torch under my blanket well into the night - I had a secret stash of torches, so when one was confiscated, I'd just grab another. I had older siblings, so from an early age I listened to stories I usually couldn't follow, but I would ask questions and some times fall asleep whilst mum read. It definitetly has helped me with a love of reading, and hence language, which has helped a lot with both my English Literature and French language studies.

I agree with this article as reading is extremely important to our children's education and development. Us as parents must understand that the teachers alone cannot help our children, therefore;we must play our part in our children's development.

I completely agree with the fact that it is very important read to children from a young age. This develops their comprehension.

Learning to read is at an early age is extremely important to be successful throughout school and college.

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges