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Preparing your child to read

Oct 15, 2020

Hello, I'm Robin, a librarian at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I work primarily with children and teens and I'm passionate about connecting kids with libraries. My own love affair with libraries began early — during Saturday morning trips to my local branch with my father. I've worked in libraries for more than twenty years, ever since I got my job paging for the Toronto Public Library in high school. When I'm not working, I'm walking my dog, reading (to myself or to my kids), writing, sewing, or making music. 

Parents often want their children to develop into readers and lovers of books – with good reason! People who read have increased empathy, larger vocabularies, lowered stress levels, better sleep, longer lifespans and stronger brains.

Learning to read and appreciate books starts long before your child begins to read independently. As a parent there are five simple practices you can implement in order to encourage your child to evolve into a reader. I am going to walk you through these five evidence-based practices and give you suggestions for pre-readers of various ages. You can start integrating these five types of interaction with your child from the instant they are born, but it doesn't matter what age you start at or what language you speak or read as long as you: 






Doing these five simple things will help your child develop the 6 pre-literacy skills that are necessary for a child to obtain before turning into a reader: print motivation (I.e. an interest in the printed word), print awareness (i.e. the knowledge that printed letters express meaning), letter knowledge (i.e. the alphabet), vocabulary, narrative skills (i.e. the ability to tell a story), and phonological awareness (i.e. the ability to distinguish between different phenomes, or units of sound). All of these will also help your child develop helpful background knowledge about their world, that will also help them understand and integrate written information once they are readers.

And of course, your library staff are always happy to help guide you through any of these practices. We love discussing our newest favourites, our old stand-bys, and helping you select books that will appeal to your individual child and his or her specific stage of development.