Raise a Reader

4 to 5 Years

This age are on the verge of reading (a few can read already). Your child can likely identify letters, and she may be able to write her name. She's learning about seven words a day--2,700 words a year. No wonder this is a talkative stage; kids are trying out all those concepts.

Easy Skill Boosters

Talk it up. When your child starts to jabber, don't tune her out. Ask questions to clarify her ideas, and prompt her along. You'll be encouraging language and comprehension skills while modeling good listening skills.

Get her reasons. Children this age are famous for asking why. Turn the tables by responding, "Why do you think that happens?" You'll foster problem solving, comprehension, and information recall.

Follow the leader. Let your preschooler "read" to you. Most likely, this will mean talking you through a story based on its pictures and her memory and imagination.

Make a book together. Staple some paper together, then help your child write or dictate a plot and illustrate it with drawings. She'll see that anyone can create a book.

Play together. Try games such as I Spy, Go Fish, Uno, and Candy Land to build conversation skills naturally.

Switch on the computer. Programs such as Reader Rabbit Preschool (The Learning Company) and Elmo's Preschool (Creative Wonders) are fun--and great for promoting letter and number recognition.

Start a new chapter. If your child seems ready, try reading her chapter books. Paraphrase dialogue or wordy sections if her attention drifts. Chapter books boost recall and teach that not all stories end in a single reading.

Build a library. Add to your child's collection, and shelve it within easy reach. Then keep reading, exploring, and talking. You'll be setting the stage for a passion that's sure to develop as your child grows.

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