How to introduce your young child to reading

Young children aren’t always the most cooperative reading partners. With limited language skills, shorter attention spans and often unbridled energy, family reading time can difficult at first, but it’s worth the effort! Reading with your child at least 15 minutes a day helps lay the foundation for a lifelong love of literacy and academic success.

Here are some tips for introducing reading into your young child’s life:

Make reading part of your daily routine

By reading at regular times in your schedule, your child will be more likely to see it as a normal, and hopefully fun, part of their day. Try reading to them every night before bed, during meals, at bath time and while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Involve your child

Don’t let reading to your child be a one-sided activity! Let your child turn the pages, ask questions and comment on the story. If they have a favorite story and are old enough to memorize parts of it, ask them to tell it to you! Getting your child involved with reading will foster their interest in reading as an interactive hobby.

Don’t worry about finishing the book

Your child might want to switch books, skip pages, or start a completely different activity. Don’t worry about reading the book start to finish! Even if you only read for a few minutes, creating a meaningful, positive experience around reading is the priority.

Get creative

Let your child use their imagination! Letting them interject with made-up parts of the story helps them grow their own storytelling and language skills. If your child is extra creative (and old enough to not eat craft supplies), try creating your own books from scratch. Use construction paper, magazine cutouts, crayons and paint to make your own stories. Your child will appreciate the fun of creating and telling their own stories.

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.