Encouraging Your Little Reader

Three years ago when I was a new mom, people told me about all of the exciting milestones I could look forward to in my daughter’s life: her first smile, first steps, first words. Nothing could have prepared me however, for the joy that comes with watching my little girl begin to recognize letters – a first and most important step on the path toward learning to read. For as long as I can remember, I’ve read anything I could get my hands on, so I am delighted to see that same passion for books in my little reader.

My daughter’s name is Ayva, so naturally the first letter she learned to identify and write was the letter A. Every week or so, I introduce a new letter to her. She’s up to about eight letters and letter sounds at this point. Now that she’s aware of the letters and seeing them everywhere, she can’t contain her excitement when she sees one that she recognizes. Delighted, she’ll shout out, “Look, Mommy! I see an A, like my name!” or “There’s a D for d-d-duck!”

Although I’ve always read to Ayva any chance we could get, this summer we’ve formalized our love of reading by participating in the iVillage PBS KIDS Summer Reading Community Challenge. I believe that Ayva’s incredible interest in words lately has a lot to do with our being more intentional in the way that we read together. Literacy-focused games and activities have added depth to our reading time and I am seeing my toddler’s literacy skills grow and develop before my eyes!

In addition to participating in the Challenge, here are three easy tips that have helped us and may help you and your little reader too:

  • Attach the sounds to letters as you are teaching your child to identify letters. Instead of just showing them the letter F and encouraging them to remember how it looks, teach them what F sounds like. Phonetically teaching your child letters will make learning to read much easier when the time comes.
  • Find tactile ways to introduce letters to your little one. Have them trace letters on a paper plate filled with salt or shaving cream, or mold them out of clay. When they are able to literally get their hands on the letters, it will help them to connect on a different level, and they’ll be more likely to remember them.
  • Remember that recognizing symbols and numbers is an important piece of being literate. Celebrate when your child is able to correctly identify those, just as you would when they successfully point out letters or words.

Isn’t being a parent fun? We get the fantastic job of introducing all sorts of cool experiences to our children. By encouraging our children to be avid readers, we are able to give them a whole world filled with opportunities and adventure! The best part of it all? We can go along for the ride!

Blogger, Vlogger, iVillage iVoice, and Educator, Brandi Jeter is the single (for now!) mother of an adorable, precocious toddler. On her blog, Mama Knows It All, and in real life, Brandi is passionate about celebrating her daughter, encouraging women to stop apologizing for being fabulous, and love. Simply. @mamaknowsitall

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