Cultivating Reading Readiness

image credit: Maria Dismondy

I am a children’s book author,  former teacher and reading specialist. Last month I wrote a post about the importance of reading to your children. So what comes next for toddlers? How can you cultivate reading readiness? These activities below are geared to children ages 18 months and older, but all children are different. It’s something we learn quite quickly as a parent. These activities are simply suggestions.

1. Create A Print-Rich Environment

There are simple things you can do in your home that will make literacy a priority. Having books in more than one place in the house, especially at your child’s level is important. Think about keeping books in the car too. Instead of turning on the dvd player, hand your toddler some books. They may end of throwing them in the beginning, but eventually they will browse through them! Add real menus and cookbooks to your child’s pretend play kitchen and empty food boxes. Give your toddler toy magazines to look at (or look at together). Add a calendar to your playroom and label toy bins with pictures and words (be sure to use a large font).

By having words and letters around your home (starting when your child is an infant) you can build interest in reading, phonological awareness, letter knowledge without even trying.

2. Learning the ABCs

Teaching your child to sing the ABCs is the first step, but what’s after that? Teaching your child to recognize upper and lower case letters by name, then by sound. Point out letters whenever you see them. “Look, Leah that sign has an L on it just like in your name!” Use magnetic letters, letter books and write letters to help your child learn them. My favorite way to teach letters was having a set of foam bath letters in the tub. It is a time I am never distracted and a perfect time to talk about letters and sounds! Bonus: you can teach your tot colors as well since the letters in different shades. My favorite letter toy is the LeapFrog Letter Factory.

3. ABC Hunt

Hide magnetic letters and have your child find them, search through magazines looking for letters, look for letters when you are running errands. The first words my daughter could recognize besides her first name were Target and Costco! Purchase an ABC placemat for the dinner table, complete abc puzzles and stacking blocks with your little one. Letters are everywhere, point them out. Check out all of these placemats to choose from.

4. YOUR letters

Start by teaching your child the letter names and sounds in his or her name. Make it a big deal! Have their name in different places around the house. You can hang their name on the wall of their bedroom, label their diaper bag, give them personalized gifts, etc. You can also focus on other important names in the family like parents and siblings. Look on YouTube or online for music with their name in the songs! Check out this website where you can purchase a cd with your child’s name in ALL of the songs!

5. Texture and Variety

Give your child opportunities to practice prewriting (fine motor work) skills by creating art with different mediums. Art mediums as children can be food such as pasta, rice,pudding, and spaghetti. You can also use household items such as play dough, hair gel, glue, and sand. Getting children to draw lines and circles are the beginning steps to writing readiness. Give them crayons to color (even though they want to eat them at first, keep trying) so that they can get used to holding a writing object.

For children as young as a year, take a few moments each weekend to plan out a few activities for the week. I think Pintrest has really come in handy for me when planning out lessons for my children. Please don’t feel limited if you are a working parent. We all have those times of cooking dinner wondering what we can get our children engaged in or you moments of “What will we do now?” throughout the day, give your child some of these activities.

For more simple ideas, follow my Literacy board on Pintrest.

– Maria Dismondy, mother of two, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan

3 Responses to “Cultivating Reading Readiness”


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  1. 1 Now I Know My ABCs, Next Time Won’t You Sing with Me? « Beaumont Parenting Program Trackback on December 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

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