Q:

My daughter is always looking at books. I know she is still young -- just turning 3 last week. How can I go about teaching her to read? I have no idea. -- Need Help

A:

Starting to teach a child to read at the age of 3 is possibly a bit early. By 4, however, it is generally a good idea to begin some type of simple instruction, such as the sounds of letters. We do have to point out that the age parents begin such instruction with their children truly depends on the child's interest and readiness. Nevertheless, any help in preparing young children to read gives them a big advantage when they start school. The only negative to such instruction is making it so dry, dull and academic that it takes all the joy away from learning to read.

Right now, at the age of 3, it is appropriate to help your child acquire these reading-readiness skills:

  • Good listening skills
  • Good oral-language ability
  • An understanding of the relationship between spoken and written words
  • Knowledge of the conventions of print and books
  • An eagerness to read

Above all else, keep reading to your child to keep her interest high in reading. We especially suggest predictable pattern books in which the same words and phrases are repeated many times in a story. One example is: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" Pre-readers like these books because they feel that they are actually reading when they say familiar parts along with the reader.