Don’t leave reading lessons only to the school. Teaching your child to read should begin at birth. Give your child a good start by trying some of these tips as you go about your day.

  • Talk to your infant and toddler. Point to objects and describe them as you play and go about your daily routine together.
  • Play rhyming games and sing silly songs to help your child learn about language.
  • Read to your child every day, even when she’s still a baby. Don’t wait until you think she’s "old enough" to be read to.
  • Point out the printed words in your home and in public—the grocery store, restaurants, the doctor’s office, etc.
  • Take books with you when you leave home. Once your child is old enough, bring crayons and paper with you too, and encourage him to draw pictures or practice letters.
  • Point to each word as you read. This teaches your child that reading goes from left to right and that the word you say is the word she sees.
  • Stop to ask questions about the pictures and what’s happening in the story.
  • Discuss new words. For example: “This big house is called a palace. Who do you think lives in a palace?”
  • Express what you are reading. Use voices for the characters, roar like a lion or bark like a dog.
  • Have your child sit on your lap or snuggle up to you as you read books together.
  • Read your child's favorite book over and over again.
  • Read from a variety of children's books, including fairy tales, songbooks, poems and nonfiction.
  • Keep books where your child can easily reach them. Encourage him to touch and flip through them.
  • Occasionally, instead of reading from a book, tell your children stories. Make them up or dramatize an old family story.
  • Set a good example for your child by reading books, newspapers and magazines.
  • Limit the amount and type of television you and your child watch. Even better, turn off the television and spend time cuddling and reading books together.
  • Reach out to libraries and other community organizations to help you find age-appropriate books, teach you creative ways to use books and provide year-round children’s reading and educational activities.

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Volunteers in
United Way of Central Iowa's
Power Read
program read with children weekly to improve literacy skills. Each child is introduced to 25 books through 50 reading sessions in a year.

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