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Helping Your Child Learn To Read

Helping Your Child Learn to Read is one in a series of books on different education topics intended to help you make the most of your child's natural curiosity. Teaching and learning are not mysteries that can only happen in school. They also happen when parents and children do simple things togethe..

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Helping Your Child Learn To Read

Helping Your Child Learn To Read

with activities for children

By Bernice Cullinan and Brod Bagert





This is the question we parents are always trying to answer. It's good that children ask questions: that's the best way to learn. All children have two wonderful resources for learning--imagination and curiosity. As a parent, you can awaken your children to the joy of learning by encouraging their imagination and curiosity.

Helping Your Child Learn to Read is one in a series of books on different education topics intended to help you make the most of your child's natural curiosity. Teaching and learning are not mysteries that can only happen in school. They also happen when parents and children do simple things together.

For instance, you and your child can:

  • sort the socks on laundry day-sorting is a major function in math and science;
  • cook a meal together-cooking involves not only math and science but good health as well;
  • tell and read each other stories - storytelling is the basis for reading and writing (and a story about the past is also history); or
  • play a game of hopscotch together. Playing physical games will help your child learn to count and start on a road to lifelong fitness.

By doing things together, you will show that learning is fun and important. You will be encouraging your child to study, learn, and stay in school.

This book is a way for you to help meet these goals. It will give you a short rundown on facts,

but the biggest part of the book is made up of simple, fun activities for you and your child to do together.

Your child may even beg you to do them. At the end of the book is a list of resources, so you can continue the fun.

Let's get started. We invite you to find an activity in this book and try it.

Table Of Contents



The Basics

  • Start Young and Stay with It
  • Advertise the Joy of Reading!
  • Remember When You Were Very Young
  • Home Is Where the Heart Is

Important Things To Know

  • It's Part of Life
  • One More Time
  • Talking about Stories
  • The More the Merrier
  • How Do I Use This Book?

Read Along

  • Look for Books
  • Books and Babies
  • R and R: Repetition and Rhyme
  • Poetry in Motion
  • Read to Me
  • Family Reading Time
  • Story Talk

Write and Talk, Too

  • Tot Talk
  • What's in a Name?
  • World of Words
  • Book Notes
  • Family Stories
  • Now Hear This
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Easy as Pie
  • Write On
  • TV
  • Make a Book
  • Make Your Own Dictionary

Parents and the Schools

A Postscript about Older Children



What Can We Do To Help Our Children Learn?

Printer friendly version - pdf format



When parents help their children lean to read, they help open the door to a new world. As a parent, you can begin an endless learning chain: You read to your children, they develop a love of stories and poems, they want to read on their own, they practice reading, and finally they read for their own information or pleasure. They become readers, and their world is forever expanded and enriched.

This book focuses primarily on what you can do to help children up to 10 years of age. During these years you can lay the foundation for your child to become a lifelong reader. In the first section, you will find some basic information about reading to your child. This is followed by suggestions that guide you to

  • read with your child and make this all-important time together enjoyable
  • stimulate your child's interest in reading and language; and
  • learn about your child's school reading programs and find ways to help.

While most of the book is for parents of children up to 10 years of age, there is a brief section for parents of older children on how to help them continue to grow as readers.

Finally, there is a resource section. As you make reading with your child a routine part of your lives, this section will help you to find new ideas and a variety of books you both might like.

You don't need to be an especially skillful reader yourself to help your child. In fact, some public libraries offer adult literacy programs that involve reading to children as a way to improve literacy skills for the whole family. Nor do you have to devote great amounts of time to reading with your child. It's the quality of time that counts. Just be consistent--give as much time as you can each day to help your child. The activities suggested are designed to fit into busy schedules.

Helping your child become a reader is an adventure you will not want to miss. The benefits to your child are immeasurable, and in the process you will find your world becoming richer as well.

Example Activity for younger child

R and R: Repetition and Rhyme

Repetition makes books predictable, and young readers love knowing what comes next.

What you'll need:

  1. Books with repeated phrases*
  2. Short rhyming poems

    A few favorites are:
    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible. No Good , Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.

    Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

    The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

    There are many good booklists that highlight those books with repetitive refrains. (See the resources section.)

What to do:

  1. Pick a story with repeated phrases or a poem you and your child like.
  2. For example, read:

    Wolf Voice: Little pig, little pig, Let me come in.

    Little Pig: Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.

    Wolf Voice: Then I'll huff and I'll puff, And I'll blow your house in!

    After the wolf has blown down the first pig's house, your child will soon join in with the refrain.
  3. Read slowly, and with a smile or a nod, let your children know you appreciate their participation.
  4. As children grow more familiar with the story, pause and give them the chance to "fill in the blanks."
  5. Encourage your children to pretend to read, especially books that contain repetition and rhyme. Most children who enjoy reading will eventually memorize all or parts of a book and imitate your reading.

When youngsters anticipate what's coming next in a story or poem, they have a sense of mastery over books. When children feel power, they have the courage to try. Pretending to read is an important step in the process of learning to read.


With it's great attention to "HOW" a parent can help their child learn to read, plus the large variety of activities that can be easily done at home (no expensive "stuff" required), Helping Your Child Learn To Read is a resource that every parent needs.

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