50 Ways To Teach Your Child To Read

by Allison McDonald

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50 ways to teach your child to readLearning to read is not a crash course that kids take and are done with once they can read Dick and Jane without any help. Learning to read is developmental and starts when a newborn looks at you and hears you talking to them. Below are 50 pieces to the reading puzzle . 50 ways that you and your child can have fun knowing that they are working on early literacy development and learning to love books. This is not definitive checklist it’s a buffet of options to help support your child as they develop literacy skills and become independent readers. Find ideas that work for your family with your child and their current development. Click through the linked items for more details and how to do the activity with your child.


  1. Read to your child.
  2. Play rhyming games.
  3. Sing the alphabet song with them.
  4. Label things with their names from an early age.
  5. Go to the library even when they are at that loud voice only stage.
  6. Have nonfiction books as well as fiction available .
  7. Tell stories.
  8. Have books all over your house.
  9. Teach the letter sounds by emphasizing the sounds in words they hear often from a young age.
  10. Provide fun and interesting books for them to read.
  11. Get a magazine subscription and read it together.
  12. Make play dough letters.
  13. Play the alphabet game on road trips.
  14. Read the mail together.
  15. Make a reading nook.
  16. Clap out syllables.
  17. Make letter crafts.
  18. Make reading play time .
  19. Notice letters in the environment.
  20. Learn about how books work and other concepts of print.
  21. Let them choose their own books at the library or bookstore.
  22. Leave them notes in their lunchboxes .
  23. Play with foam letters in the bath. Use bath toys to make up and tell stories.
  24. Make your own books.
  25. Play eye spy with letters and letter sounds. ” I spy something that starts with the letter B. Buh buh book!”
  26. Give your children books as gifts.
  27. Make up silly songs together.
  28. Ask them to read the pictures to you before they can read the words.
  29. Play library.
  30. Read the book then see the movie for a family treat.
  31. Play with word families.
  32. Read books with no words and share storytelling duties.
  33. Let them see you reading for fun.
  34. Read nursery rhymes.
  35. Explore and trace tactile letters.
  36. Play listening games.
  37. Retell and have your children retell stories after reading them.
  38. Ask your child questions about elements of the story as you read with them. This works on comprehension.
  39. Read books at lunchtime .
  40. Take books with you when you travel.
  41. Build with letter blocks or make your own.
  42. Do word searches.
  43. Play sight word games.
  44. Download an e-reader app on your smartphone and instead of handing them it to play a game make it a treat to use it to read.
  45. Read comics and graphic novels with them.
  46. Talk your your kids using regular words not “kiddie” words.
  47. Read them poetry.
  48. Get their bodies moving to learn letters.
  49. Read them their favorite book over and over and over even if it’s making you want to poke your eyes out.
  50. Make reading part of their bedtime routine from day one.
For even more tips for reading check out my book Raising A Rockstar Reader! 

raising a rock-star reader

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  1. says

    Lots of these activities are of course, reading readiness and pre reading activities. What I have found is that with most kids you do need a systematic system for teaching reading as not all will pick it up from all these great ideas.

  2. Samantha says

    I don’t really recommend singing the alphabet song. I mean, it helps, but when we did that, confusion arose over sound vs. letters. Then we tried the Letter Factory by Leap Frog, and that really helps. They emphasize more on phonics, not letters. Other than that, great list!!

  3. says

    Thanks for lots of great ideas. I plan to use the sight word dominos game with my first grade students this week. I also linked to your post on my blog Yulupa Reads to give our school’s parents and Schools of Hope volunteers some ideas they can use.

  4. says

    Every Thursday is “I Hate to Read” Thursday on my Facebook author page. It pains me that some kids don’t like to read, so I make it my mission to find things to help them. Today, is was your 50 Ways to Teach Your Child to Read. Thanks!

  5. mbw says

    As a preschool teacher and librarian, one of my favorite things is to have the children make puppets (paper sack, Popsicle stick, whatever) of the characters in the story so they can retell the story (#37).
    The most important things you can do (and this list shows you how) are to model good reading behavior (if you hate it, they will know and hate it too) and to expose your children to a variety of reading experiences. When they see that reading is a valuable and enjoyable skill, they will want to develop it themselves.
    Also, if you have a reluctant reader, read together (you read one page or paragraph, s/he reads one) and find books that are about something they are interested in (sports, horses, race cars…). The non fiction section has more to offer than science or social studies help.
    Okay, off my soapbox now…reading is just so near and dear to my heart!

  6. says

    Allison, I agree with your suggestion that learning to read is not a 1 course and your done type of thing. It is indeed an ongoing developmental skill.

    I really give a thumbs up to suggestion #40 where you say the parent should incorporate movement in learning. I believe it is true that kids learn things better kinesthetically. Involve all the senses in learning and the child is likely to learn more and retain more longer.

    Marie C.

  7. says

    Love this list! And how many of the ways have to do with playing with your child.

    As well as all the ideas that don’t require sitting down with a book (although I love reading to & with my kids!) – particularly helpful for boys, who I find tend to have more affinity for energetic activities.

    Really love the double impact of #22 – notes in lunchboxes: developing skills and communicating care. There are so many great suggestions, I’ll be coming back more than once to pick out a few more to put into practice. Thanks!

  8. joan says

    i found that the current phonetic – synthetic phonics method destroyed my son’s confidence – he found it incomprehensible as the rules were so limited and only apply to some cases..

  9. says

    I love this list!!! I think one of the most important factors in your child learning to read is to allow him to discover reading at his own pace. Kids develop at different paces and sometimes we adults forget there is an age range of typical development. Creating the environment for your child to discover reading on his own is critical in developing a lifelong love for reading. These tips do precisely that for children! Well done, Allie!

  10. Lisa says

    This is a wonderful list of activities and practices to not only teach children how to read but also to help them become lifelong readers. This list incorporates the development of reading, speaking, and writing skills–all of which are essential in academia, the workforce, and everyday life. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man” (Sir Francis Bacon).

    May I add to your list a practice I used with my son? We had a dry erase board in the kitchen called “The Question Board.” Either of us could post any question, and the other was responsible for providing the answer. Although we were allowed some subjectivity in sharing personal views and opinions, we focused on providing supportive evidence from reputable sources. In this way, we used reading, research, and communication skills. My favorite question was when my then four year old son asked, “Why do they call it the ‘Silver War?'” After I realized he was referring to the Civil War, we did some reading and had a rich discussion about a significant event in our country’s history.

  11. says

    Thank you so much for the suggestions. We currently do a lot of these but my stubborn little guy just has no interest in reading. He loves books, he memorizes many of them, but is not at all concerned about learning how to read. He is extremely intelligent and has had a huge vocabulary from early on. I guess I just have to be patient. I am wondering if as the other Kindergarteners learn to read if he will feel compelled to do the same. I hate that it will be peer pressure but maybe just a little nudge. Thanks again.


  12. Krysta says

    a very easy thing that anyone can do… Turn on your TVs closed captioning. Then anytime they are watching TV they are also seeing the words. We usually watch Tree Schoolers, Signing time or super why.

  13. Nick says

    My wife and I have been reading to our son since we brought him home from the hospital. He is now almost 4 but about 6 months ago we started to notice that he was falling behind the other kids in daycare in the speech dept. and noticing simple words. We tried different methods and friends advice wasn’t working so we went online to find some assistance. I stumped across this program that changed the game. Not only was it fun and easy. It really gave our little one the hands on that he needed and the program grew with him with different stages to the program. If your having trouble with the reading dept. or just starting, give this program a try. I set a link below and if it isn’t lit up, simply copy and paste it to your address bar. Good luck too all.

  14. Venita Gomez says

    I’d definitely agree with the author here. We have used similar techniques while training our child to read. I would like to share my story with others — hopefully, it will definitely help in developing your child’s reading skills.

    A year ago I bought an e-book online and to my surprise, the results were very impressive. My child was able to read within 12 weeks after I had gone through the book and used the simple methods which were mentioned. I hope it will help others as well as it helped me, too.

    Here’s a link to my story which was published on a news blog: http://www.newsdailygroup.com/my-son-could-read-before-he-was-even-potty-trained/

    Here’s a tip which I would like to give: You NEED to give something to your baby in order to make them read. Remember how we all used to tame our parrots? Give it some seeds and let it sit on our finger. Similarly, you have to reward your child as soon as they hold a book. It will be difficult at start but your child will develop a habit — that is for sure. 🙂

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful post.

    – Venita

    • Allison McDonald says

      The main thing I have found with boys is to respect their reading choices. As moms we often think that our boys need to be reading fiction, but many young boys ( and girls) adore nonfiction. So don’t limit the reading choices.


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