Reading with Your Child

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Reading with Your Child

Mental Health
Reading with Your Child
Reading with Your Child
Read to your child to aid development.
InteliHealth Medical Content
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School
Reading with Your Child

Building a love of books helps your child develop self-esteem and paves the way for future success in school and on the job. Reading together with your child is an important part of this process, even after formal instruction begins in school. The teachers at school will teach your child how to read, but you also can help your child by making reading fun and showing your child that reading is important for everyday life. Your child will treasure time spent reading with you and will love reading because he loves you!

Reading Tips:
  • Use the library often. Ask the librarian for suggestions, but let your child make the final selection.
  • As a parent, you are your child’s most important role model. Let your child see you reading every day.
  • Look for ways that your child can practice reading (for example, ask your child to read signs, menus and cereal boxes).
  • Switch places! As reading skills improve, let your child read to you, a sibling, a friend or a grandparent.
  • Don’t stop reading over the summer. By spending just 10 to 15 minutes per day with a book, your child can complete a book each week. This will make a big difference in his reading skills and self-confidence when school starts in the fall.
  • Get help when necessary. Your child's school should offer special reading assistance after grades one or two for children who are having difficulty. Some children need help with reading throughout their school years.

At 5 years of age, children recognize most letters of the alphabet and may be able to print some. They can also give definitions for the many words these letters form. Children this age will like books that tell stories and books about kids that look and live like them, including books about making friends, going to school, and having brothers and sisters. They will enjoy books with simple texts that they can memorize or read themselves. Ask your child questions about each story, validate his responses and elaborate on them.

At 6 to 7 years of age, children understand more complicated language ideas, and can identify rhythm, rhyme and alliteration (repeated sounds). He also will recognize the moral of a story and make connections between stories and his own life experiences. Discuss the details of the story with your child: the how, why, what, when and where.

At 8 to 9 years of age, children begin to identify with the characters in books and enjoy reading simple biographies and chapter books. When you read together, ask what they might do if they were the character, or talk about the theme of the story. Children in this age group may also enjoy books about how things work.

At 10 years of age, your child can go beyond the literal meaning of words and understand figurative speech. The books he likes to read will reflect the diversity of his interests. Encourage him to explore new subject matter and stretch his imagination!

When you look at lists of recommended books for children, keep in mind that every child is different, so books that appeal to one child may not appeal to another. Children mature at different rates, so their book choices are influenced by their interests, their life experience and their reading abilities. You’ll quickly notice that recommendations from reading experts differ — One expert may recommend a particular book for 8-year-olds; another may recommend the same book for older children. The only recommendation that truly matters is the one from your child!

Check out our list of suggestions for some age-appropriate books.


Last updated May 29, 2011

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