Reading bedtime stories is as important as changing diapers, but there’s a right way to do it.
Research shows interactions such as reading and talking to your child can lead to a 30 million word advantage by age 3 if you start early—with huge advantages in language and vocabulary development by 18-months of age.   Here’s how to get your preschooler ready for kindergarten now, and avoid early literacy catastrophe.
Recently I talked with parents whose 5-year-old had a massive vocabulary and used adult-like language with statements such as “Follow the map if you want to reach your destination!” (They wondered where he learned “destination!”) But the little guy struggled to write his name fluidly; bewailed the fact that he couldn’t read even though he wasn’t being pressured at home; bemoaned early “failures” in kindergarten and expressed negative feelings about school. Reading aloud and talking had not been enough to prepare him for kindergarten in an era of new standards and higher expectations.
To avoid failure in early kindergarten, here are ten reading-aloud tips for parents of preschoolers. Reading aloud is necessary but sometimes not sufficient. To ensure readiness for kindergarten, follow these read aloud tips plus pencil and paper guidelines that lead to amazing results.
10 Rules for Reading Aloud and Kindergarten Readiness
When you make home-made label books, read them over and over. Label books can be about body parts, family members, zoo animals, birds, farm animals, trucks, flowers, cats, dogs, community helpers, snakes, insects, tools, frogs—anything your child is interested in or wants to collect. Start out with one word and picture on a page. Use photos or invite older preschoolers draw the illustrations.
Chop-chop-swish makes it easy for kids to read lots of high-frequency 2- and 3-leter words such as up, in, if, cat, mom, and dad. This is a great way to show kids how decoding and phonics work. Your child can even use chop-chop-swish syllable-by-syllable in names like Ke-vin and words like oc-to-pus.
[To watch a kindergartner demonstrate chop-chop-chop-swish, click on the link at the end of this post.]
Send this post to parents (and teachers) you know who have a preschooler. Let’s get kids ready for success with reading and writing in kindergarten.
[Click here to see a smart kindergarten reader demonstrate chop-chop-chop swish for sounding out words: http://youtu.be/1-l1zzVwz1A ]
 Hart, B. & Risley, T. (1996) Meaningful Differences in Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore: Brookes.
 Fernald A, Marchman V., & Weisleder A. (2013) SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, March 2013;16(2):234-48. doi: 10.1111/desc.12019. Epub 2012 Dec 8.
 Gentry, J. R. (2010) Raising Confident Readers: How to Teach your Child to Read and Write—From Baby to Age 7. New York: Da Cappo Press.
Dr. J. Richard Gentry is the author of Raising Confident Readers, How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write–From Baby to Age 7. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and find out more information about his work on his website.