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How To Read To Young Children

Updated on May 12, 2010

Early Reading

Young children who are read to often are more successful at learning to read.

Early reading experiences are now recognized as being of such importance that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "pediatricians prescribe reading activities along with other instructions given to parents at the time of well-child visits."

The President of the Academy, Dr. Robert E. Hannemann, stated: "We strongly recommend daily reading to children from six months of age."

In recent years, neurological research has given us a whole new understanding of how the brain develops. An early language experience, which includes reading, is crucial.

Listening and modeling (repeating) are key features to learning to read. Proper articulation is key to learning to read and spell. We spell the way we pronounce a word. We recognize a word the from the way it is spelled. But, first comes listening.

The National Commission on Reading states "...reading aloud to children is the single most important intervention for developing their literacy skills,"

How To Read To 3-4 year olds

For 3-4 yr olds, read the book; encourage your child to repeat words and phrases in the story. Read the same book over and over again. When they become familiar with the story, let your child talk for one of the characters. Richard and Rosco, is really good for this because it has predictable text on nearly every page. The ‘r’ sound is often a sound that is delayed simply because of bad habits or laziness.

But there are children with learning and speech disabilities that have deficiencies in their ability to process phonogical information. Repeating the little rhyme that articulates the sound Richard and Rosco make as they chase after rainbows is a fun way to encourage them in language development.

Reading to 1-3 year olds

Start early, and stick with one sound. Your child can gain a head start in phonic awareness which will probably minimize articulation problems later, (which manifest themselves in reading and spelling problems).

For the 1- 3 year old remember… their attention is short, so just three to five minute, maybe ten, is enough for them. Toddlers and infants will let you know when they have had enough. Babies love to hear the same sound over and over again. They love to make the same sound over and over again. Sometimes it drives us adults crazy, but stick with it. Your child want to practice it until they get it right. It gives them a feeling of joy and accomplishment.

And, PLEASE, don’t pressure your baby. Provide lots of verbal stimulation with books, singing, and repetitive rhymes. Try by reading from the computer. You will be surprised how much very young children love it.

When young toddlers mispronounce sounds we often considered it ‘cute baby talk’. But, although this is cute while the child is young, mimicking the child’s articulation is harmful to the development of correct speech and can be a source of embarrassment to the child by the time they enter school.

Young toddlers love repetitive sounds at the beginning of the word. Books that have simple words and pictures are the books that infants and young toddlers will love to hear over and over again.


Apraxia is a condition that is on the increase among children.

It is a disableling condition where the brain does not process sequences of sounds in words or sentences. It stands to reason that as the apraxic child repeats repetitive phrases it will help the brain build new circuitry to improve this condition. It sure couldn’t hurt!

Even though 3-4 year olds are not ready to read, phonemic awareness affects early reading ability; the ability to read also increases phonemic awareness (Smith, Simmons, & Kameenue, 1995). Beginning phonemic awareness can be introduced a fun way by reading stories that use auditory bombardment and predictable text.

It will amaze you and you will be able to understand why I say repetitive phrases may help build new brain circuitry in the apraxic brain.

There are other benefits of mixing articulation development with the beginning reading experience. Spelling is based on phonic recognize. Phonic decoding is key to learning to read as well as spell.

  • We pronounce a word the way we hear it.
  • We spell a word the way we pronounce it.

It will amaze you and you will be able to understand why I say repetitive phrases may help build new brain circuitry in the apraxic brain.

Bonding is an effect of reading to children,  a benefit that cannot be replaced with videos and educational programs.  Human touch, loving words, and encircling arms have a lasting impression on young formative minds.  Love is the universal language, and reading together the universal medium. 


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    • Traqqer profile image

      Traqqer 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Good article. Just reading to kids is a huge help to them. It helps build the circuitry as you said, but in so many ways that we can't really understand at the moment.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

      Glad you liked it Pamela,

      I don't think we realize how important proper diction is in reading and talking to children. Childhood is the time language is stored in the computer of our brain. And we store it the way we hear it.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Another good hub.