Teach Your Child to Read Now

Start where you are, use what you have

Mary Gallagher
Jan 9 · 4 min read

Have you ever put off doing something that was good for you or that you knew would help you reach your goals because you felt like you didn’t have everything you needed to get started?

You know, can’t get started on that fitness routine until you get all the cool workout gear or a new treadmill.

Can’t start training your dog until you enroll in that expensive dog training academy.

Can’t plant that garden until you have all the new tools and build those raised beds.

These stalling tactics are nothing more than procrastination. And procrastination is usually just fear in disguise.

Start with where you (and your child) are; use what you have at your disposal.

Got books?

Start reading aloud to your child daily. As often as possible. This is still the #1 way to support early readers and ensure that your child has the best possible start at reading. And it’s fun!

What books? Any books are fine for reading aloud. You are doing the reading and modeling and your child is benefiting in a lot of ways!

Got a library card? Perfect! Head over to the children’s section and allow your child to choose some books. Choice is a powerful motivator so the more you can include your child in the books you read together, the better!

How about making her own books? Have your child tell you a story and you write the words. She can go back and add pictures. Then read the story together. You will be surprised how well children can read books they create themselves!

Read, read, read it again

We call this repeated reading. When your child is able to read a book, have her read it over and over again until she reads it fluently and flawlessly — with expression too! She can read it to all the members of the family, the babysitter, grandpa, the dogs, and cats, or even her stuffed teddies. The key is repetition. When she’s done, place this book in her “I can read” pile or make a list of all the books she can read by herself.

Practice sight words using whatever books you have and some index cards

Again, no need for fancy materials here. All children’s books will have a plethora of sight words (also called high-frequency words). These are words like me, the, and, it, of, to, my, for, some, etc.

Please note: these are words that typically cannot be sounded out so children have to learn these by sight or memory. Repeated practice pointing these out in the stories you read together and some games with flashcards are the best way to help a child place these in her memory bank.

Please don’t think up fancy ways to explain these words because they do not adhere to phonics rules or conventional sounds. Keep it simple.

Have your child copy them onto the index cards for practice.

*Here is a list of common sight words. Start at the beginning.

Talk about what you read with your child

Pause during the story and ask questions about the characters.

*It’s always best to phrase your question as if you were asking yourself — or thinking out loud. Don’t make this a quiz! Just have fun.

“I wonder why Susanna was afraid. What do you think?”

Help your child identify with the characters or the problem/conflict in the story.

“I remember a time that I was afraid during a storm. Have you ever been afraid during a storm?”

Process the events in the story by reviewing what’s happened so far.

“So far Susanna has visited her grandma, made some cookies, and what else has happened?”

“Look at Susanna as she lays in bed. What do you think she is thinking or feeling?” “How can you tell?”

Make predictions about what will happen next.

“I wonder if Susanna will run to her grandma’s room? What do you think she’ll do next?”

Don’t wait until you have all the skills, the right books or curriculum, until your child is in school, or until you figure out what a diphthong vs. an r-controlled vowel is (I’ve got a phonics handout for you in our Facebook group if you want to learn what these things are!) — just get started reading with what you have!

Visit Teach a Child to Read or find us on Facebook.

Raise a Lifelong Reader

Instilling the love of reading and books in all children’s lives. Companion page to Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books, now available on Amazon.

Mary Gallagher

Written by

I love the slow life, contemplation, creative expression, all things literacy. Faith writer and lover of all creatures. https://simplelifesimplefaith.com

Raise a Lifelong Reader

Instilling the love of reading and books in all children’s lives. Companion page to Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books, now available on Amazon.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade