Parents are children's first reading teachers. As such, parents have wonderful opportunities to prevent their preschoolers from developing reading problems. How? Parents can start early and teach reading at home in fun, joyful, and informal ways.

Here's a link to the full text of "Teach Your Preschooler to Read!" my guest post appearing 01/17/2011  on the highly acclaimed Reading & Other Learning Disabilities blog by Howard Margolis, EdD and Gary G. Brannigan, PhD:

 (Read my recommendation for Reading & Other Learning Disabilities below.)

Quick Tips for Parents of Preschoolers:

  • Start reading aloud to your newborn and engaging him in conversation about books. Reading aloud and talking to him during the early critical brain-building years will give him a 32-million-word advantage by age four. You'll not only provide data to help him learn language, but also help him begin to organize the reading circuitry in his brain.
  • Choose happy, easy books from a wide range of genres: picture books, labeling books, books you can chant or sing, pattern books with predictable text, board books that withstand baby handling, soft cloth books, story books, alphabet books and information books. (I provide suggested book lists for each of the five phases of development to help you choose the right book at the right time.) Some books will become your child's favorites and you'll read them aloud hundreds of times over the early years, taking advantage of the critical role repetition plays in learning to read. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Get a library card and take your toddler to the library and give him books as presents.
  • Start word reading early--even before your child can speak in words. In Raising Confident Readers, I describe a joyful labeling and reading activity called "reading around the room" that uses finger tracking and demonstrates how to break the word into sounds. It takes only thirty seconds two or three times a day. In addition to reading aloud to your child, work these activities into his daily routine: handling books and visiting the book box, playing with words he hears and seeing how words are made, using rhymes and singing songs, and eventually, engaging him in pencil-and-paper activities.
  • Teach your child to write his name by age 3 or 4. Start with the letter sounds before focusing on the letter names. Introduce alphabet books early and teach the alphabet song. Recognize that early writing leads to early reading.
  • Stop an activity whenever your child loses interest. Start something else. Remember the secret to easy, joyful, early reading: fun.

Fun, successful literacy activities like these benefit your child. They also benefit you. They strengthen bonds and feelings of affection. They increase love.

Recommended for Further Reading

 I highly recommend the Reading & Other Learning Disabilities blog for all readers interested in learning disabilities. Here's a sampling of recent posts:

            Reading Disabilities: Why Rush To Intervene?

            How to Get Parent Training for Children with Disabilities

            Stonewalling the IEP

            Tip: The Right Amount of Homework

Comment from a "Reading & Other Learning Disabilities" blog reader regarding my guest post:

             "I would like to see Raising Confident Readers made available to all new parents through their pediatricians. Waiting till a child goes off to school to begin to learn to read means giving up the best time to develop the preliminary skills of reading." Gaby Chapman

 Dr. J. Richard Gentry is the author of Raising Confident Readers, available on

Find out more about his work at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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