Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers

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Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers
Parent Tips
Go to Parent Tips:   Pre-K   |   K   |   1st   |   2nd   |   3rd  
Roots of Reading Roots of Reading
Sounds and Symbols
Fluent Reading
Writing and Spelling
Reading for Meaning
Reading Rocks!
Empowering Parents
Becoming Bilingual
Reading and the Brain
A Chance to Read
Toddling Toward Reading

Parent Tips 1 - The Roots of Reading

Read early and read often. The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. You can't start reading to a child too soon!

  • Read together every day.
    Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close together. Bedtime is an especially great time for reading together.

  • Give everything a name.
    You can build comprehension skills early, even with the littlest child. Play games that involve naming or pointing to objects. Say things like, "Where's your nose?" and then, "Where's Mommy's nose?" Or touch your child's nose and say, "What's this?"

  • Say how much you enjoy reading together.
    Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Look forward to this time you spend together. Talk about "story time" as the favorite part of your day.

  • Read with fun in your voice.
    Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices for different characters. Ham it up!

  • Know when to stop.
    If your child loses interest or has trouble paying attention, just put the book away for a while. Don't continue reading if your child is not enjoying it.

  • Be interactive.
    Engage your child so he or she will actively listen to a story. Discuss what's happening, point out things on the page, and answer your child's questions. Ask questions of your own and listen to your child's responses.

  • Read it again and again and again.
    Your child will probably want to hear a favorite story over and over. Go ahead and read the same book for the 100th time! Research suggests that repeated readings help children develop language skills.

  • Talk about writing, too.
    Draw your child's attention to the way writing works. When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.

  • Point out print everywhere.
    Talk about the written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child's questions about words. Ask him or her to find a new word every time you go on an outing.

  • Get your child evaluated if you suspect a problem.
    Please be sure to see your child's pediatrician or teacher as soon as possible if you have concerns about his or her language development, hearing, or sight.

Learning can happen even as you're driving in the car, taking the bus, or going for a walk. Parents of preschoolers can point out words in the world around them – the word stop on a stop sign, for example, and the word McDonald's on a child's favorite fast-food place. Reading specialists call this "print awareness."

"Let them see you reading. Let them see you 
enjoy and love print. Even if you're not a reader yourself, you can still communicate to your children that books matter."  --Phyllis Hunter, National Fellow of the Institute of Learning

Eventually preschoolers learn to recognize written words they see around them – in books and magazines, on signs and billboards, and on grocery lists and menus. Through this everyday experience, children gradually learn that print conveys meaning; that it is the words and not the pictures that are "read"; that words are composed of letters; and that a page is read from left to right and from top to bottom.

Parents can also promote early literacy skills by defining words for a child, by playing rhyming and other word games, and by often repeating the letters that make up the child's name.

Would you like to read more tips? Click here to go to the next set of parent tips. The tips are only loosely grouped according to age level. Read them all, try them out, and see what works for your child.

Feel free to also take a look at a one-page handout that contains shortened versions of the above tips for parents of preschoolers. (You'll need the free Acrobat Reader available at to view and print the PDF file). You are welcome to print out, photocopy, and pass out this handout if you wish. Or click here to send a friend an e-mail version of any of the parent tips.

Reading and literacy are important issues for public television. More information about reading is available at the new PBS Parents website. Or check the main Reading Rockets website at

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