Thoughtful Parenting: Reading with your child |

Thoughtful Parenting: Reading with your child

One thing that professionals who work with children agree on is that reading to your child is important. Reading to your child gives you time to be close and connect. But what are you helping your children learn when you make time to snuggle up and read together?

At different ages, children are learning a variety of skills when you read to them. Many of the skills that are beginning to develop at one stage continue to develop as your child grows. Included below are some tips for reading with children at different ages. The most important part to remember is that reading together should be fun and enjoyable for you and your child.

Babies (0-12 months)

  • Learning about language
  • Read books with pictures of baby faces and brightly colored objects
  • Talk about what you see in the books. For example, when there is a picture of a boat: “That is a shiny boat! It floats in the water.”
  • Read books that babies can put in their mouth; this is how they learn about their world at this age

Toddlers (1-2 years)

  • Developing print awareness: knowing that letters on a page represent words that have meaning
  • Developing book knowledge: how to hold a book, start at the front, and turn pages
  • Ask your child questions to engage in the book. For example, in a book about colors: “Can you find everything that is red on this page?”
  • Don’t worry about finishing whole books; they may only want to read for a few minutes at a time

Preschoolers (3-4 years)

  • Building vocabulary: the words and sentence structure used in books are more complex than our everyday speech
  • Developing rhyming skills
  • Read books with repetitive text and let your child read the repeating parts
  • Read stories with more detailed plots and talk about what is happening in the story

Beginning and fluent readers (4 years and older)

  • Understanding stories with more complex plots and learning from nonfiction books
  • Hearing what a fluent reader sounds like
  • Share what you are thinking about as you read. For example: predictions about what will happen next or your own connections to the story
  • Read books that they are not able to read on their own yet but are interested in reading

For parents who are dyslexic or struggle with reading aloud, audio books are a wonderful way to enjoy a book with your child.

Even after children can read on their own, spending time reading to them on a regular basis is valuable. Finding time to read each day with your child is helping develop many important skills and most importantly, a love of reading.

Kim Schulz is the executive director and part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading. Visit for more information.

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