Ready to Read?

Become a book reviewer
For starters, opt for reading material that’s relatively short and simple. “The text should be laid out clearly, and there shouldn’t be too many words because beginning readers just can’t stay with it for too long,” Neuman explains. Also, check out as many informational books as possible on topics your child enjoys, like sharks, trains, princesses or horses. This allows her to become an expert on something she cares about and master her world, says Neuman.

Meanwhile, look for basic illustrations that help your child figure out what’s written. “Some illustrations may look pretty, but they can also be very confusing, even for the child who’s learning to read,” Neuman notes. Also, get silly with your selections. “Children love to laugh at this age, so they often enjoy books that have a sense of fun,” Neuman says. “Parents should keep it light and joyous.”

Play with the letters
Learning the alphabet and letter sounds is crucial to becoming a successful reader— but you must make it interesting and engaging rather than something they have to learn one minute and forget the next. For instance, keep singing the “ABC” song and read books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

“The best alphabet books help children associate a letter with a picture,” Neuman says. “This helps them learn that each letter can map onto a sound.” But as much as you should read and talk about the pictures, there’s no need to turn it into a rote-memorization exercise. “Flashcards are not good for children in the long run,” Neuman says. “[They] learn ‘I’m supposed to please you,’ and it’s not an internal kind of activity.”