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January 10, 2006



Michelle, if he is only 4, I'm wondering if it would be worth leaving it a little while - just read to him lots as you do anyway in the meantime - and see if he's more interested later?

I've read that some kids aren't really ready to learn to read until about 7 (despite potentially loving books and learning to write earlier) and pushing them too early can turn them off and make them think that they aren't good at it, or just that's it's 'too hard'.

Yet those same kids end up at the same reading level as the early starters by age 10, if they are left to age 7 to begin.

On the other hand if he's expected in school to be able to do it, I can see how not doing it could also be difficult for him. That's the problem with curricula that (inevitably) cater to some non-existent average. Quite a dilemma - and not one we have yet: my son is nearly four but won't be expected to learn to read until he's 6 or 7 in school), so apologies if this is useless advice!

Le Ellis

My advice as a reading teacher is to read from day one. I took a book to the hospital with me when my son was born. Start reading from the beginning, before they can get up and walk away. They will love listening to your voice. They will grow used to that special time of sharing books, so even when they do start to crawl and move and walk they will want that story time. My daughter never could sit still and she played and moved around while I read, but she would come look at the pictures. It is such a wonderful thing to listen to stories together. And there are fabulous books on tape/cd to listen to in the car. Listening to chapter books when your children are pre-K or kindergarten helps their listening vocabulary. When my son was tested for speech at age 6, his language skills were off the charts, almost high school level. I believe that was due to all the reading we did together. His lateral lisp was due to pacifier. But that's another story. :) Keep up that reading! You'll never regret it.

Ed Bacchus

On the issue of leaving it up to the Pre-K teachers, I suggest working with the teachers. Find out if your child receognizes one letter or word better than the others and use that as a stepping stone for achievement. Always include that word or letter when you work with them so they can see how rewarding it is when they get it right. Ask your teachers what they are doing and work with them to support your child's development.


My son is almost 5, and starting to be able to read -- he's particularly interested in signs on buildings. But he's pretty much uninterested in reading actual books on his own -- he likes the attention of being read to. So you might want to look for other things to read.

Leah Weston Kaae

Emma is 8 months old and is the same way with eating books ("Books are not for eating, books are not for eating" I seem to repeat over and over again). I've been reading to her since the hospital right after she was born. I plan on teaching her to read as soon as I can (although not sure when to start--not now) because I'm an American living in Denmark and if I don't teach her to read English, she won't learn it until she's 12 or 13 in the schools.


My daughter is entering the age where she wants to read by herself. I'm kind of glad because her taste in literature runs to "My Little Pony," "Care Bears" & "Strawberry Shortcake." I'd rather she read them herself. The three year old is loves to be read to but reading to the kids is something she does with daddy and I really don't tread in that territory.


Maria--He's turning four in three weeks. I'd agree with your mom--maybe leave the teaching part to pre-K. The preschool environment is so different. That's how my son learned his alphabet (that, and having us sing it to him ad nauseum).

Jill--that's a great idea, having the older ones read to the younger ones. I've noticed my son "pretending" to read to his 20-month-old sister.

Kimberly--Ack! I hadn't thought of that aspect of reading. Personally, I think C-A-N-D-Y is the first word kids learn to spell. :)

Sue--I hope I won't have to stop. Actually, I'm really hoping I can gather the kids together and read to all of them.


How old is your son? My 4 yr old loves to be snuggled and read to - but only books w/pictures and won't sit w/us when his 6 yr old brother and I read Narnia... BUT - he really doesn't seem to want to learn his letters. I know he's slowly getting them, but any overt efforts I make, like the special alphabet books I got him for Christmas, are immediately rejected. My Mom w/40 yrs teaching experience has told me to leave the teaching to his teachers and just keep reading to him - as long as he loves that, he'll learn eventually...


I am very proud of you in continuing on reading to your children. You sound like a very busy mom and sometimes it's hard to get in that mommy & child time. Especially when you have more than one.(Believe me, I've got four) And even so when they are at different ages(mine all four years apart) in their life and into different ideas and stories. I try to use my children,(I know, isn't it a cool idea) and when they have reading assignments to finish at home, get them to read to their brothers and sisters. I too listen but that way they get the feeling of importance and its a cool job.

Again, I praise you and hope you continue your quest. You sound like an awesome mom!


I still read to Sabrina even though she's mastered reading for herself. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about it, wondering if I should let her discover Pippi and Anne and Alice on her own, but she seems to prefer to share the experience with me. And I'm thrilled to revist these old friends with her.

One thing I didn't count on in the euphoria of "my child has learned to read!" is how inconvienent it can be. Once they can read everything, there's no fudging about when McDonald's Kid's Night is, or whether or not that moive is playing in the local theatre. Reading is sort of like potty training, I think; it changes the way you interact with your child, and the way your child fits into your life, in some pretty fundamental ways.


Oh, but you don't have to give up the snuggling and reading aloud! His comprehension will be way ahead of his reading level for some years, and you can introduce him to classics and childhood favourites of your own. My sons still wanted me to read to them right into their late teens, and while it wasn't quite the same as 'Goodnight Moon', it was still magical and wonderful. We only stopped because my 19yo has now left home for a couple of years.

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