12 top tips on teaching children to read

November 24, 2014

Miles Kelly has put together some classic tried-and-tested ideas on teaching children to read, but with a focus on the ‘fun factor’! Please share with us what reading activities have worked for you by using the hashtag #readingisfun on Facebook and Twitter, so we can all share our best tips with each other!

Here's our 12 top tips to get you started...

1. Let your child choose lots of different genres of book, so they always have something new to discover. With each book, ask your child why they chose it. Then look at the cover and discuss what your child thinks it might be about. For example, if your child chooses a dinosaur book, questions could include: What colour is the dinosaur? Do dinosaurs live now? What do you think dinosaurs eat? How big do you think dinosaurs are?

2. Ask questions throughout the book about a character’s appearance, their actions, what they might do next or might have done instead. Make connections to your child’s own experiences, so they can relate to the story. For example, when Goldilocks is eating porridge, you could ask: What is Goldilocks wearing? What colour is her hair? Does she look happy or sad? Is she hungry or thirsty? Whose porridge is she eating? Is she allowed to eat the porridge? What would you do if someone ate your breakfast? 

Reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Miles Kelly

3. Use simple stories that repeat key words such as 'the' and 'a' so your child can become familiar with the basics. Ask them to point out these words on each page and when they're doing this confidently, pause mid-sentence and let them fill in.

4. Ask “Can you see the...?” and get them to point out different things on the page. This helps your child relate new words to objects. If the word is also written on the page, point this out too. Picture dictionaries are perfect for this activity.

5. Try reading activity books together. For example, children’s recipes books are great for reading and having fun at the same time.

6. Find books in different-sized formats, using different materials and textures, such as fur and leather. This keeps kids interested in new ideas.

7. Strong character-based books, especially in a series, are great for motivating kids to read the next installment of their adventures.

8. Try to use humour and expression in your voice to entertain young children, and help them to understand the difference between narration and speech using a change of voice. Explain that punctuation such as speech marks "" shows how you should read.

9. Play rhyming reading games to help children to understand phonics, the sounds of letters and words. Nursery rhymes are great for getting children excited about learning to read.

10. Introduce new topics, facts and ideas about a subject that they are really interested in to expand a child’s knowledge whilst they’re learning to read. 

11. After reading, encourage children to draw or paint characters from the story, act out the story, watch a TV adaptation, or refer back to parts of the story when you see something relevant. This helps to strengthen their recall skills as they remember new words and ideas.

12. Make a special ‘reading den’ with cushions and books, so your child recognises this as a special area for them enjoy reading, with you or independently.

Make a reading den to encourage toddlers to read – Miles Kelly

Have any of these ideas worked for you? Do you have any other suggestions? Share your ideas on teaching children to read using #readingisfun on Facebook and Twitter!

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