Six Fun Activities to Build Early Reading Skills

Promote Early Literacy and a Love for Reading

Happy father and son reading book together in bed
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Even before your child can to pick up a simple book and read it to you, she'll start building the skills that will help her learn to read more easily. Known as early reading, or pre-reading skills, they can be reinforced at home with a number of playful activities.

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    Read with Your Child

    This may sound simple, but the best way for a child to start learning about reading is to be exposed to it over and over again. Read many different types of books together, but choose a few books to really focus on. Read those books often and more slowly, pointing to each word as you read it and asking your child how the picture is connected to the words. Before long, your child will be "reading" along with you and may even be able to point to certain words on the page

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    Point Out Environmental Print

    Environmental print is a fancy way to refer to the logos, signs, symbols and other words that kids see and know how to "read" without knowing how to read. Most kids recognize the logo and sign for their favorite fast food restaurant or the store you shop at the most, but they may not notice the more subtle things, like the fact that the letters on a STOP sign are always the same. When your child points out a sign, acknowledge it and then challenge him to see if he can name some of the...MORE letters it contains.

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    Make a Silly Alliterative Sentence with Her Name

    Alliteration, using the same consonant at the beginning of each word in a sentence, is a great way for your child to start making the connection that letters always make the same sound. If for example, your child's name is Bennett, making sure to exaggerate the "b" sound, you might say something like this: "B is for Bennett. Boy, Bennett builds beautiful big boxes with blue blocks!"

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    Retell Stories

    A big part of learning to read is understanding that the words come together in a particular order to tell a story. One fun way to retell stories with your child is to take her favorite book (one she knows "by heart") and cover the words with masking tape. Have your child tell you the story a page at a time, uncovering the words and reading them after she tells you her version. You can compare the two to see which words she had correct.

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    Sequence Familiar Books

    Look for another copy of your child's favorite book at a used bookstore or thrift store. Remove the pages from the binding and shuffle them around. Read the intact copy with your child and then see if he is able to put the shuffled pages in the correct order.

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    Make Rhyme Time

    Rhyme is a great way to raise awareness of written words and sounds in a fun way. You can play rhyming games with your child simply by saying a word and having her help you come up with another word that sounds like it. Or, if your child is more visual, you can go on a rhyming scavenger hunt. It's a good way to clean up, too. As you're picking up, you can say things like "Oh, I found a shoe! What can you find that sounds like 'shoe?'"