I recently wrote about the joys of summer reading. But maybe you’re wondering if your child should be reading yet. The question of whether our children are “on track” can cause so much stress. And it’s hard because we can’t compare our children with others. Each one is unique. Let’s look at signs of reading readiness that can help you discern your child’s reading readiness and help you enjoy guiding your little one into a lifelong pleasurable relationship with books.
An interest in books. Your child will pretend to be reading. He will hold a book in the appropriate way and turn pages. At this point, you preschooler is beginning to understand the relationship between print and spoken words. According to author Amanda Movin, she is not merely playing with books; she is “organizing what she knows about books and language and how they work together.” She is beginning to understand that readers focus on the words which convey a message.
Shows comprehension. The child will ask questions and make comments while reading. She can apply story content to her own experiences. If a child hears a story about ice cream, she can infer, “I like ice cream too.”
Recognizes print in his environment. Signs on the highway, at the grocery story, church or gym begin to attract the child’s interest. I vividly recall when I was on a family trip sometime during 1st grade when I was beginning to read. I noticed highway signs that said, “Passing” and then “No Passing.” Suddenly the signs meant something. I watched them with fascination and excitement for the entire trip.
Letter Recognition and Phonetic Awareness. The child begins to explore the sounds of words. She is interested in and can make speech sounds such as “b” and “k”. He enjoys thinking of several words that begin with the same sound: bat, bug, Billy. She replaces one sound with another turning “hat” to “cat”.
A few other signs
- Can give the definition of simple words.
- Can pronounce his/her own first and last name.
- Can print his/her own name.
In their article on Emergent Literacy, Penn State researchers wrote, “It is fun and pleasant to introduce a child to literacy.” If you’re feeling stressed about your child’s reading progress, it’s time to relax and enjoy the process. The goal is to introduce your children to “pleasurable language experiences.” Here are some simple suggestions for encouraging your child’s reading readiness.
- Read to your child—a lot!
- Point out printed words in your child’s world—at the grocery story, on road signs, at preschool, at McDonalds…
- Use magnetic letters on a cookie sheet to do letter and word play.
- Check out alphabet books from the library. Dr. Suess’ ABC, ABC, I Like Me, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Eating the Alphabet; Fruits and Vegetable from A-Z.
- Use the fun phonics videos such as Leap Frog’s “The Letter Factory.”
- Sing lots of rhyming songs such as nursery rhymes or finger plays.
- Play, “I Spy.”
- Make picture books: Write “A is for Apple” and paste or draw an apple.
Is your child showing some of the signs of reading readiness? As you help your child begin a life-long love of reading, careful observation, simple language activities, and lots of reading aloud can give you a confident beginning.
-posted by Donna Detweiler, who would like to dedicate today’s blog to her favorite reading chair—the old, green recliner.