How to Raise a Reader

Reading with Kindergartners

It's important to keep up storytime at home as your child learns to read and write at school. Let him pick what he wants to read, but make sure you expose him to a wider variety of genres too -- folktales, fantasy, and nonfiction.

What They Learn

"At 5, your child will engage in lively conversations about books and might recognize most letters of the alphabet," says Dr. Neuman. He'll be able to write the letters of his name, if not more. (Encourage him to practice, since learning to write is an essential part of learning to read.) Picture books help kindergartners make important connections between characters and their own lives, so choose stories about starting school, becoming a big brother or sister, or visiting the doctor. And you should read aloud to him regularly, since he'll learn just by listening to new language. "The vocabulary that children understand through hearing is so much more sophisticated than what they can express verbally, and the more you read out loud to them, the more you are encouraging those synapses and that wonderful language acquisition," says Lisa Von Drasek, children's librarian at the Bank Street College of Education, in New York City.

Make Reading Fun

  • Chat them up. Talk about what you've just read. Relate stories back to their own life: "Do you ever feel homesick when you visit Grandma?"
  • Publish a book. Staple a few sheets of paper together and ask your child to dictate a story and make some drawings.
  • Give your child's favorite books as birthday gifts. Let her tell you why she adores the book, then inscribe it for her: "Chocolatina loves chocolate as much as I do! From Sydney."
  • Use reading as a reward. If your child shared nicely, treat him to an extra story or two and some special cuddle time.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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