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Help Kids Get Excited about Reading

Parents and caretakers play a crucial role in helping children develop their reading skills. Beginning at birth, parents should try to read to their child every day. Before they even understand what words and books are about, young children benefit from listening to you read aloud.

Reading with a child helps them start to love reading early in life. By making books a part of the daily routine, you’re setting the stage for future success in school, work and life.

Watch this video to learn about the 4 E’s for Excellent Reading.

Benefits of Reading to Children

Prepares them for school. Reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways to help them get ready for school. It builds their vocabulary. It also helps develop their language, reading and writing skills.

Success in school. Studies show that children who grow up with lots of books in the home tend to go farther in school.

A love of books. By reading to your child with enthusiasm and interacting with them while you read, you teach your child reading is fun. Reading together also builds strong family relationships.

Learn more about the benefits of reading to children.

Tips for Reading With Your Child

It’s important to read aloud to kids of all ages. Even as kids move into teen years, studies indicate they like to be read to and benefit from it.

Here are tips for reading with kids of different age levels:

Babies (up to 12 months)

  • Choose sturdy books made with different textures and materials.
  • Allow your baby to explore books—grabbing, holding and even chewing on them.
  • Point out pictures and name objects. (“Look at the butterfly.”)
  • Take time to ask questions and pause as you read. (“What does the cat say? The cat says: ‘Meow!’”)

See more tips from kidcentral tn.

Toddlers (1-2)

  • Toddlers are naturally curious and eager to learn new words and ideas. They enjoy silly words and rhymes. They enjoy acting out stories.
  • When you read together, cuddle up with your child on your lap. Remember to look at each other, as well as the book.
  • Let your child lead the way. It’s OK to skip pages or read the same story again and again.
  • Ask your child to name things in the pictures and talk about them.

See more tips from kidcentral tn.

Preschoolers (2-5)

  • Preschool is a critical time for sharing books. Reading together each day helps boost language, reading and writing literacy skills. It’s a great way to spend time together as a family.
  • Let your child help select books, and look for books that might interest your preschooler.
  • Read with enthusiasm. Use different voices for different characters.
  • Point out rhymes in stories. Give your preschooler the opportunity to repeat rhyming phrases.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions.

See more tips from kidcentral tn.

School-age kids

  • Keep reading to your child even when they can read. Read books that are too hard or long for them to read alone.
  • Try reading books with chapters and talk about what is happening in the story. Encourage your child to make predictions about the story.
  • Take turns reading a story with your child. Don't interrupt to correct mistakes that don’t change the meaning.
  • Talk about the meaning of new words and ideas introduced in books.
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun. The most important thing you can do is to show your child how fun reading can be.

See more tips from the National Education Association.

The 4E’s for Excellent Reading


Additional Resources

Get 60 books at no cost to you. Through the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, all Tennessee children from birth to age 5 can receive one book each month in the mail, at no cost to families.

Learn about the First Lady’s Read20 Family Book Club, which encourages Tennessee families to read together for at least 20 minutes every day.

Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) is a free resource for everyone in Tennessee. TEL has homework help resources for children and teens that include magazines, e-books, encyclopedias, videos, podcasts and test preparation materials. This virtual library works wherever you have an internet connection and is available 24/7.