When a Child Starts to Read

What an exciting time! Your child is starting to read!

You may be wondering what books should I have available?

Here are a few book choices and categories I've collected on an Amazon site.

Who has good advice?

Reading Rockets has information and articles.
My website: Parent and Child Reading Assistance has advice on teaching reading.

Are there online sites to help my child learn to read?



Children's Books to Read Aloud

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you walk into a book store or the library? What books will your kids really like?

I knew I'd found a really good book when my kids wanted it read over and over. Reading books out loud multiple times helps children get ready to become readers, especially if children point to pictures, make guesses about what will happen, talk about how a story reminds them of something else, read aloud parts on their own, or retell the story in their own words.

Here are a few books I recommend to read aloud to children ages 0 - 8. Please share your favorites in a comment.

The Dot

The Dot is a story that will help children have confidence to try something new. The Dot shows how a teacher encourages a child to draw, and the child feels successful in the end. Here's a video of the book. 
Recommended ages are 3 to 8 years old.

Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree (A Five Little Monkeys Story) 
Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree has repeated sentences that young children love to read along with you. Make sure to point out the monkeys hiding in the tree after the crocodile SNAPS if children seem sad or afraid that the monkey was eaten. This is a great book to help children learn numbers and the concept of subtraction. Here's a video of the book.This book is way more fun when kids get involved in the reading, point to the pictures, and practice counting.
Recommended ages are 2 to 6 years old.

Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books) 
This book is a great introduction to direction words and holds young children's interest as they go on an adventure with baby bird as he looks for his mother. This is a book children will want to hear over and over. Some children who listen to this book a number of times will start to tell the story in their own words or want to join in on the reading of this story. Children get excited about this story and like being able to remember what happens next if they have heard the story before. Here's a video of the book read out loud.
Hello Baby
Here's a video of the book.
Recommended ages are 2 to 5 years old.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Brown Bear and Friends)

The repeated language makes this a book that young children love to help "read". This book was a favorite for my kids. I have a video of my oldest son "reading" this book when he was two years old.
Recommended ages are 1 to 4 years old.

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree

This book is so fun. It shows the imagination of children playing. My kids loved this story especially since we have two boys and one girl. Here's a video of the book.
Recommended ages are 3 to 5 years old.

The Paper Bag Princess (Classic Munsch)

My family loves this story! It is a wonderful story of a smart girl tricking a dragon and not letting a prince be mean to her. So fun! I'm sure your family will love it too.
Recommended ages are 5 - 8 years old.



Reading Books More Than Once is Good for Early Readers?

Each time a familiar book is read it becomes easier for a child to combine reading skills. Rereading the same books is a lot like doing the same sports drill over and over.

Words that were difficult the first few times a book was read become easier each time. The process of sounding out becomes easier and words are stored in the reader's memory for future reading.

My own children had boxes of favorite books for rereading. You can help your child by having books your child likes available for rereading and encouraging your child to read everyday.

Some of the best places to find books are garage sales and used stores.

The trick to getting children to read books more that once is to have them choose their favorite books. Many books should be made available. If a child doesn't love a book, it won't be one they will want to read again.

Here's a link with advice for finding good books for kids.



Improve Reading Skills by Having Kids Listen to Stories

Reading is more than reading words correctly. I have seen many readers be able to read words, but not make sense of what is read. I was one of those readers when I was young. I didn't enjoy reading as a child or teenager. I was in my twenties before reading started to make sense for me and become enjoyable.

You can increase a child's ability to attach meaning to reading by providing many opportunities to hear stories and let a child get involved in the stories. Reading a book to a child yourself is probably the best since vocabulary and questions can be addressed immediately. If you'd like ideas to improve comprehension while reading with a child, you can check out this post.

Audio books are great for getting more stories and language to your kids. Listening to an audio book together on a road trip is a way to have a story to discuss and have a shared experience. Recently my family and I listened to My Brother Sam is Dead on a road trip. It did have a sad and graphic ending. My children are older, so they were able to handle it. I didn't plan the timing, but the story ended exactly when we pulled into the garage. It is a memory we all share, and a story we won't forget.

There are a number of free online sites that have books for watching and listening. I've used many of these sites with my own kids. We really loved using these sites while preparing dinner.

If you'd like to check understanding of books, you can check out Book Adventure. I'm using this with my kids. It's a free site with book quizzes.


Parents Who Read Aloud to Their Children Set Them Up for Reading Success!

You can make a difference in this world by spreading this message and encouraging parents to read aloud to their children from birth.

My Parent and Child Reading Assistance business recently became a partner with Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Here's a graphic Read Aloud 15 MINUTES produced.

I've come across a number of organizations that promote reading aloud. There are many ways you can help. You can support an organization financially or by spreading information through social media. You can make personal connections with parents you know. Share books or have encouraging conversations.

When my niece had a baby, the first thing I did was send her board books for babies and some books that would interest a toddler. I found most of them at a used store. Her parents and grandma read to her often. She is three years old now and loves when someone reads to her.

My community recently set up Reach Out and Read at The Children's Clinic. Children are given age specific books and read aloud advice from pediatricians at every well visit. We are working on sustaining and growing Reach Out and Read. 

I'm proud of the work being done in my community to promote reading aloud. Our library has story times and activities for children and parents. Books and Babies shows parents and caregivers how to read to babies. There's a women's organization that promotes reading aloud to children through presentations and by giving a touch and feel board book and literacy resources to every baby born in Yellowstone County. United Way gives away books and literacy information through a local Reading Matters program.

Here's a page with a list of organizations I've found that promote reading aloud to children. I'd love to know about more organizations or your stories of reading aloud to children in a comment.

Set children up for reading success. 
We can all do something big or small. 
It all matters.



What Reading Skills Do Children Need?

A reader combines four reading skills.



A reader with good reading comprehension has a purpose for reading, monitors for understanding while reading, and checks for understanding after reading.

When you read with a child you can talk about thinking you do while reading. I personally struggled with this until I was twenty-five years old. I didn't naturally think before, during, or after reading. I read the words on the page and thought that was enough. I did not enjoy reading or do well in school until by some miracle I figured out how to think while reading in college.

I love the book 7 Keys to Reading Comprehension. This book clearly explains how to help a child do the right kind of thinking. It will give you ways to model thinking and ask the right questions.


Vocabulary knowledge is an important part of reading. It is built through experiences, conversations, and reading. New vocabulary words can be learned while reading by using word parts, attending to context clues, or using a dictionary.

Readers need to understand most of the words being read to understand their reading.


A reader with strong fluency skills quickly recognizes words, reads like a person speaks, and focuses on meaning.

It is normal for an early reader to sound choppy and take longer to read. It takes patience to listen to a beginning reader. Fluency comes with practice and combining reading skills. Telling a reader to read faster will not make a reader fluent.

Improve fluency by making sure sounding out has been taught and is happening. Then have plenty of books at your child's reading level that are enjoyable to read. Encourage your child to read out loud. I like to tell a child that their is a movie playing in my head when I listen to your reading. The movie gets fuzzy when something is read correctly. I ask them to please rewind the movie and play it again. If small errors are made and I can still understand the story, I don't stop a reader. Encourage your child to have a movie and make sure to get them to reread a sentence when the meaning gets fuzzy.


Decoding involves reading words by using sounds, phonics, and knowledge of phonics rules and exceptions.

Decoding words takes a lot of effort and time in the beginning stages of reading. Smooth reading will not happen until decoding becomes automatic. It takes time and practice for a child to decode words quickly. Your child will stumble over words when learning to decode. Think of the beginning stages of reading as a child learning to walk.

A good online reading program can teach decoding skills.

Teach Letter Sounds and Letter Combinations

After a child knows the alphabet and letter sounds, there are still a few letter combinations you can teach. I suggest you start by teaching a few letter combinations at a time. These letter combinations can be taught while you read books to your child. Stop and point out a few letters and letter combinations. Break the word apart by individual sounds with your voice.

Phonics Pathways and Reading Pathways are good books to teach letter combinations. You can also check out Reading Bear. Reading Bear is a free online program that gives practice with letter sounds and letter combinations.