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How to Help Your Child Read

Nov 24, 2007
Here are some frequently asked questions about how parents may foster the love of reading in their children.

1. Are children who try to learn two languages during the preschool years handicapped in learning to read?

Preschool children who try to learn two languages are usually somewhat retarded in both. There are, of course, exceptions. It has been suggested that the retardation may be due to a reluctance to abandon the mother's language rather than to lack of intelligence or verbal ability.

The language heard in infancy, Dorothea McCarthy has said, has deep emotional roots. The child may become emotionally disturbed if he is forbidden to use the language he has associated with his parents from the earliest years. Therefore, children who need to learn two languages should learn to use both languages correctly in the situations in which each is appropriate.

2. Should I teach my child the alphabet?

A child is better prepared for beginning reading if he knows the names of the letters. You can teach him to write each letter large as soon as he learns to name it. You teach the name of the letter B, not the sound, "Bun." Later he will group the letters as follows:


Letters near the beginning of the dictionary, letters in the middle after the beginning group, letters in the middle toward the end, letters near the end of the dictionary.

This grouping will help the child to find words quickly in the dictionary.

3. Why is reading aloud to children sometimes unsuccessful?

There are many possible reasons. If the adult dislikes reading aloud, or reads from a sense of duty, his attitude is communicated to the child. Adult and child should both enjoy the story. The child may not be quite ready for the story the parent is reading - though the parent remembers that he loved it when he was the child's age.

Times change, and children's interests shift somewhat from generation to generation. Sometimes the child's unreadiness to listen may be merely temporary; something else had absorbed his attention for the moment. It is better to recognize this immediate interest than to try to override it. Older children, especially those in early adolescence, sometimes prefer an unshared reading experience. At such times they guard their private world with fierce jealousy, and resent any adult intrusion into it.

4. How can parents foster a child's love of reading?

"Liking to read just comes naturally to my child," you may say. Probably it doesn't. Without being aware of it, you have done, and are still doing, many things that cause your child to love reading and to want to read. He has seen you reading and has gathered that reading gives you pleasure and profit.

He has listened to the enchanting stories that you have read him, and he wants to hear more than you have time to read to him. This stimulates him to want to learn to read for himself. As he looks at the books while you read to him, he begins to recognize certain words, and realizes that those black marks on white paper have meaning.

Even after he has started school, you should continue to read him books that are beyond his own present reading ability; this will create further interest in the world of books that he will someday be able to explore himself.
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