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How to Teach Your Child to Read: Learn to Read Games for Early Literacy at Home 2-4 Years

Updated on May 17, 2012

Teaching your child to read well and love it

Do you want your child to grow up reading well and loving it? With the right support from home, children can learn to read and write early, easily and joyfully. If you have been playing language games and listening and sound recognition activities I introduced in my previous post, your child probably likes these games with you and enjoys sitting with you and listening to you read. You have already built a strong foundation for learning to read, and later reading to learn.

Reading skill is one of the strongest indicators of academic success. Reading is a complex cognitive task that requires practice, and support at home. Parents are the child’s best ally in learning language and literacy skills that will foster a love of reading and writing to support their confidence and success in school and in life. Teach them to read as you teach them to talk, to wash their hands, to brush their teeth, and to mind their manners. Here are some fun literacy activities to include in your play with your child.

Learn to Read with Phonics 2-4 Years

At this age children love picture books with simple stories. The pictures are as important as the words. They are interested in the sounds of letters and may be starting to recognize the letter shapes and associated sounds, especially if they are playing phonics games. They start to recognize letters and numbers in their environment, on signs and in stores.

1. Continue any activities from the previous article that still interest your child. Develop them as he gets competent and interested in new books, topics, and activities. Follow the child’s interests.

2. Always use real language, not baby talk. Speak clearly. Repeat new words. Don’t be afraid to use big words and complex vocabulary--that’s how they learn it. They absorb language as they absorb whatever is in their environment, as pioneer early childhood educator Maria Montessori observed in The Absorbent Mind, her description of classroom research in her kindergarten in inner-city Rome in the early 20th century.

3. Go to the library weekly. It’s free! Take home a lot of books. Read books together in the library, and if you can, sign up for a parent-child group story time.

Preschool Story Time

Your local library has story time for parents and preschoolers together.
Your local library has story time for parents and preschoolers together. | Source
Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers
Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

This is a really good phonic series once your child shows awareness of sounds and interest in letters (24-48 months).


4. Visit your local used book stores and let your child choose a book. It doesn’t matter what he likes; if it is his he will likely read it more than once. Used books are cheap, and merchants often offer a trade-in for the ones you don’t read any more.

5. Read every day with your child. Sit close, talk about the story, interact with the child as she has comments or questions. Get excited about the story. Act out the voices. Use dramatic sound effects and pauses.

6. Play phonics games with the child. Teach her the sounds of the letters more than the names. She can learn the letter names later, when she is writing and spelling, but knowing the primary sound each letter makes will help her decode words, starting with simple 3-letter words like “map,” “bed,” and “log.”

7. Once your child has a good grasp of the sounds many of the letters make, introduce him to the BOB books. These are Bobbie Lynn Maslen's early phonic readers that introduce one or two new sounds and a handful of key sight words at each level. I have worked with these with great success in the Montessori Casa classes where I taught 3-6 year olds, and also with my daughter. They are small, short books of about twenty pages or less with three to six words on a page with a stick figure illustration. Key vocabulary is repeated, so by the end of the book the child is recognizing the words easily. It is thrilling to see the children's excitement at seeing themselves read with these books. They come in sets of half a dozen in a box and are definitely worth the investment.

Teaching Children How to Read

Children learn what they live. If they see readers in their family, they will want to read. If your child is fortunate to have more than one language in your home, do the literacy activities in both or all languages. Above all, have fun. You may have developed literacy late in life and had to work hard. With your help, your child can learn to read early, effortlessly, and with joy.


Montessori, Maria. The Absorbent Mind. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.


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