Building Thinkers: The 4E’s for Excellent Reading – Video Feature


Reading with children at a young age helps to build their vocabulary and gets them ready to do well in school. Interacting with the reading material with a child helps them start to love reading early in life.


Many new parents read to their children while still in the womb, but then stop at birth because they think the child is too young. Language development begins at birth, so it’s never too early to start showing books to children. Reading to small children helps prepare them for school. Pictures can be used to teach words. Even if you can’t read them, having books in the home can help a child grow to love reading and learning.


Books offer a great way to bond with children. You don’t have to be a teacher or even a great reader to help grow a love of reading and learning in a child, because reading goes beyond words on a page. It’s about engaging a child with the story and the world around him or her. Adults can take a picture walk through the book or make up a story with a child based on the pictures. It’s OK to skip pages or reread the same story again and again. Take time to pause, and answer a child’s questions.


Make reading fun for a child by reading with energy! Use different voices for different characters. Make up a funny story using the pictures. Be excited when pointing out pictures and naming objects. Cuddling with a child boosts the positive learning experience.


Reading with young children for about 20 minutes each day can have everlasting benefits. It helps learning and language development and sets them up for success in school. Plus it’s a great way to spend time together as a family!

Get more tips on reading with babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Learn more benefits of reading to your child.

Get information on eBooks for children.

Additional Resources

Visit the Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation to enroll in Imagination Library, the program (for children from birth to age 5) that mails one new book each month to the child's home at no cost to the family. The Governor's Books From Birth Foundation also has more tips and Imagination Library book activities.

Visit Tennessee Read to Be Ready to learn more about building thinkers in Tennessee.

The Early World of Learning is a free online program that lets preschoolers, kindergarteners and first grade students build their reading, listening and computer skills, through read-aloud stories, games, and videos. Kids learn the concepts they need to know to be school ready, like numbers, letters and shapes. There are even print out activity pages and sing-along songs!

The Tennessee Electronic Library has more than 400,000 resources for children and teens, from magazines, e-books and encyclopedias to videos, podcasts and test preparation materials. Children can learn more about math, science, geography, state history and the arts.

The First Lady’s Read20 Family Book Club engages parents in the academic achievement of elementary and middle school students. Each month, a new book is selected as the featured “Book of the Month.” And the Read20 Family Book Club also offers ideas for family activities that relate back to the book—whether it’s an art project or a trip to the local farmers’ market or park.