How to help your child learn to read + giveaway

Miss Five is my little book worm.

Her favourite thing in the world is to curl up with a good book.

Each night after I read her a bedtime story or two … or three … or four, she’ll walk over to her bookcase and choose a selection of books to sleep with. A couple go under her pillow and one stands up pride in place on the shelf at the head of her bed. This book is the chosen one that she will read until her eyes become heavy with sleep.

Miss Five is learning to read. She can recognise some words and can read a simple sentence. This doesn’t stop her from choosing very wordy books for her solo night time reading expeditions.

She’s currently ‘reading’ one of Samantha Turnbull’s The Anti-Princess Club books. She was instantly drawn to the book because the lead character has the same name as her cousin, plus she was thrilled to bits when she discovered her own name in it. God only knows how she reads it. I think she basically scans each page for words she recognises.

When she started Prep this year, I changed the focus of our bedtime reading to me helping her learn to read. I’ve been practicing a few words with her and asking her to point them out in books. She gets frustrated easily and mad at herself when she can’t sound out or recognise a word. She desperately wants to read and is rushing herself. I’m finding it difficult to get her to relax and slow down. Talk about being her mother’s daughter!

It was perfect timing when Dymocks asked me to promote their Kids Festival of Fiction and give me the chance to ask Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association a few questions on helping kids to read.

Here’s what Ryan had to say.

What are the signs that indicate your child is ready to read?
Readers in the emergent stage of reading are usually those who are just gaining an understanding of how a text works. They will display good book handling behaviours, they will know where the book begins and ends and they understand that print and pictures convey a message. In this stage readers can usually recognise a small number of high-frequency words (5-20 words) that occur regularly throughout a text.

How can I tell if my child is developing her reading ability as she should?
It is near impossible to determine whether a child is developing in their reading ability at the rate that they should. As every child is different and has different interests, comparisons in this way often lead to disappointment and frustration. As a parent, the best thing that you can do to help your child develop in their reading is to share a love of books. Reading together often, talking about books and becoming a family that reads together are some of the most reliable ways to help your child on their reading journey.

What books you can recommend to help beginners learn to read?
New and exciting books are always a great motivator to help assist children to develop their reading ability. Dymocks is hosting a Kids Festival of Fiction throughout March, with a great selection of best-sellers, kid’s classics and new releases for kids of all ages, including beginning readers.

For kids under five, spark the imagination with a range of picture books. The laugh out loud antics of Nibbles: The Book Monster and greedy pug Pig The Winner will keep the little ones entertained.

How can parents help their children learn to read?
By using supportive strategies that encourage children to be active participants in the reading process. When you are reading together with your child, it’s a great idea to give them the option of how they would like to read. Provide the opportunity for children to choose whether they would like to read aloud or silently. Check if they would like to try paired reading (reading together at the same time) or if they feel like they need extra support to access words in the book.

When your child comes to a word they don’t know or aren’t sure of, remember to:

  • Wait: give your child a chance to figure out the word on their own
  • Ask: does that make sense? Does the picture give you a clue? Could you read on for more information?
  • Then skip: if the child is still stuck on the word, ask them to skip it and read on. You can always drop that word into conversation as you turn the page. This has the added advantage of not making the child wrong!

How can you make learning to read fun?

  • Relax
    The simplest way to encourage children to engage in reading is to relax around the process. Parents are often anxious when they feel that reading isn’t going as well for their children as it should be. This then translates to the children that they are reading with. The physical location can make a real difference to how the reading is perceived and enjoyed. Try lying down on the lounge room floor, mum and dad’s bed, or outside under a tree.
  • Don’t be a word pointer
    The core of the reading process is making meaning. When a child changes a word in the text, they are being a resourceful reader. They are working towards making sure that the text that they are reading makes sense for them. The child who reads the word flu instead of cold is putting the text into their own context. As adults, we frequently miscue when reading, though often we are unaware it has happened. Children need to know that it is okay to not read “word perfect” all of the time. When a child changes a word, or looks to a parent for help, the importance of making meaning needs to be shared.
  • Let your children choose what they want to read
    Book choice is a vital component of the reading process. As adults, we very rarely read anything that we either don’t love or enjoy. Why then do we insist that children must read cover to cover something they don’t necessarily enjoy? It is often hard to let go and let children choose their own books. This is vital, however, for developing strong, self-sufficient readers.
  • What can you do when your child becomes frustrated when she can’t recognise words?
    Avoid eye contact with the child. When a child looks to us for help with a word, we often want to save them, help the reading process move along, and provide the word. This is an unsustainable strategy for the child as they need a set of skills to call upon when they are reading with you. Rather than looking at your child, focus your attention on the book. After all, this is where all the clues are to figuring out the word. Encourage your child to skip the word and read on for more information, use the pictures for a clue, or even leave the word and continue reading. By refocusing the child’s attention back to the meaning of the text, the content of the text will help fill in the blanks. If your child has skipped the word and still can’t figure it out, drop the word into the conversation as you turn the page or discuss after you’ve finished reading together.

How great is that advice? Thanks Ryan!

To celebrate the Kids Festival of Fiction, Dymocks is allowing me to giveaway a book pack to one lucky reader including:

1 x Pig the Pug – Aaron Blabey
1 x Possum Magic – Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
1 x The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
1 x The BFG – Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake
1 x The 13-Storey Treehouse – Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Kids festival of fiction

In the comments below, tell me which book you and your child are enjoying at the moment and why.

Terms and conditions

– This giveaway is only open to Australian residents (excluding ACT).

– This giveaway closes at 8pm AEST on Thursday 31 March.

– Winners will be contacted via email on Friday 1 April. (No joke 😉 )

– This is a game of skill. The most interesting answer as judged by a panel will be deemed a winner.

This is not a sponsored post. Mummy, Wife, Me did not receive compensation for this post. She simply wants to share some book loving love. 

Linking up today With Some Grace for FYBF.

34 comments on How to help your child learn to read + giveaway

  1. Sarah
    March 24, 2016 at 7:29 am (3 years ago)

    My son has just commenced preschool and they offer a library service. He and my younger daughter are really enjoying reading the library books over and over again with various family members. He is enjoying the responsibility of returning his book and reminds his sister about being careful with it.

  2. Elisha
    March 24, 2016 at 11:54 am (3 years ago)

    The kids have jumped on the Dr Suess train after the paper were selling them cheap last month. I think its the rhyming and all the silly creatures in the book that draw them to them, and they are all new here in the house. I dont mind reading them to the kids either and there are some nice short ones too!!

  3. Alison Fidler
    March 24, 2016 at 6:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Harry and I are loving Anh Do’s “Weirdo” series. They are so funny and have really good messages about friendship and teamwork! I’m usually a one chapter a night kinda Mum but with these books Harry’s the one stopping me when he get’s tired!

  4. Emily
    March 24, 2016 at 8:03 pm (3 years ago)

    Love this post! How great is Ryan? I won’t enter because we already have all these books (I was hoping we’d have different packs! Ha!) but I’ll still answer the question: we are still reading and loving Once Upon a Twice. Highly recommended. x

  5. Carly Oliver
    March 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Neve was gifted a set of Dr Seuss books awhile ago, but she was too little to appreciate them at the time. We have rediscovered them this week. She seems utterly enthralled by them, and they do have nice ‘morals’. I’m enjoying the tongue twisters! And they are hilarious.

  6. Vanessa
    March 25, 2016 at 6:12 am (3 years ago)

    I remember reading the Little Sister Babysitters Club books in kindy. I don’t think I often scored well in “testing” my reading becasue they made us read out loud and my brain works faster than my mouth. I loved readying. Actually, still do! That’s why I have so many library fines haha. {not an entry comment}

  7. Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life
    March 25, 2016 at 6:24 am (3 years ago)

    My kids are in their teens now but they love sitting down and reading to their young cousins. Their patience with their cousins questions always astounds me.

  8. Lydia C. lee
    March 25, 2016 at 7:05 am (3 years ago)

    Monster Goose – a distorted nursery rhymes book. It’s our halloween special but the girl is not prepared to be seasonal about it….

  9. Amy @ HandbagMafia
    March 25, 2016 at 7:05 am (3 years ago)

    Learning to read is awesome, I love seeing it “click”! We have 3 readers out of 4, no doubt Miss 3 will be the same! Her favourite book at the moment is Nudie Rudie- she knows it by heart and she and her father read it together- he reads one line, she gives the next- for the whole book! Love it!

  10. Kathy Storer
    March 25, 2016 at 7:35 am (3 years ago)

    I’m a mum of 7 children and they all love to read which I think is fabulous, my 4 young ones love Possum Magic and The Very Hungey Caterpillar at the moment, I read to them every day and night, they love books so much and enjoy the stories, it’s a great learning tool to have lots of books around young children.

  11. kasey Zendler
    March 25, 2016 at 7:49 am (3 years ago)

    Our new little prepoy Mr 5 loves books! But he also has permanent ants in.his pants haha! He wiggles and jumps and tosses and turns but as soon as we get out ‘Aliens love underpants’ he is enthralled! He loves the story and laughs out loud, every time! He to school this week and was super chuffed that the teacher read it to thd class!

    Miss 2 loves ‘Are u my mummy?’ She reads it to me now…down, down, down…plop she giggles , are u my mummy?, i ask her “no!” She shouts! Love it xxxx

  12. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    March 25, 2016 at 8:50 am (3 years ago)

    What a great giveaway and a gorgeous selection of books! As a teacher, I’m nodding along to Ryan’s tips, it’s such a joy to see children fall in love with reading. You’re never too young to be with a book!

  13. Mumma McD
    March 25, 2016 at 8:54 am (3 years ago)

    So cute she sleeps with a book under her pillow!! I was a bookworm as a kid too, I used to keep books and a little torch under my pillow in case I woke up in the night, I’d read myself back to sleep :).

  14. Natalie @ our parallel connection
    March 25, 2016 at 9:10 am (3 years ago)

    Reading for 2 of my kids came naturally smf they love it. The other 2 it has been a greater challenge and one of them hates it (saddens me as I love it). You learn soooooo much from experiencing words from other people

  15. Ai @crazymummymonster
    March 25, 2016 at 9:53 am (3 years ago)

    My son loves his Grug books. All 30+ books of them. His been reading Grug since a few weeks after birth and still loves them to this day. Sometimes I’ll catch him reading them on his own and surrounding by all his Grug books.

  16. Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    March 25, 2016 at 9:13 pm (3 years ago)

    My youngest has just started kindergarten and is learning to read too – it’s so cute! I’m unfortunately a word pointer so I need to try to get out of that habit. My son is currently reading me his journal entries each night, which is great fun – I love his account of each day!

  17. Tashen
    March 26, 2016 at 8:49 am (3 years ago)

    My son has just started prep and is enjoying reading a lot of early readers in particular some Star Wars and marvel super hero books. Since his baby brother was born he enjoys nothing more than grabbing a pile of his readers and sitting and reading to him in between giving him lots of kisses. It is really beautiful to watch and will hopefully pass his love of reading onto his baby brother.

  18. Toni @ Finding Myself Young
    March 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm (3 years ago)

    We are currently “reading” lots of Peppa Pig books because bub loves Peppa and George. She can’t read yet but she does tell me what’s happening from the pictures and then when she gets to the last page she says “the end story all done” and then opens it from the front and starts again. She likes the ABC one because she can actually read that one because she knows all her ABC’s. She’s also partial to little golden books but it’ll be a while before she’s reading them properly.

  19. Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    March 27, 2016 at 5:34 am (3 years ago)

    I actually wrote a free eBook (well, more of a quick “how to” guide) about “how to get your kids excited about reading”. It’s a topic close to my heart … as a mum, as an author and as the mum of a dyslexic child.

  20. Skye
    March 28, 2016 at 10:04 am (3 years ago)

    My 5yr old is loving the freedom of his school library choices and loves being able scare his mum each week with new snake books to read!

  21. Grace
    March 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm (3 years ago)

    We love Pig the Winner in our house! They read it at school and so we bought a copy. Interesting that one of the tips is not to be a word pointer – completely contrary to what the teachers have been telling us to do.
    It can be a bit of a struggle with my boys when it comes to reading. The effort they put into school isn’t quite the same level with me…Real push and pull…But I will persevere!

  22. Bec Senyard
    March 29, 2016 at 7:22 am (3 years ago)

    We enjoy anything by Dr Seuss, Well… not me personally with all the tongue tying but Esther loves Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

  23. Nicole kent
    March 29, 2016 at 9:45 am (3 years ago)

    We’re reading one of my childhood favourites ‘Charlotte’s Web’. Little miss 6 is loving it as much as I hoped for.

  24. Anastasia
    March 29, 2016 at 10:00 am (3 years ago)

    We are enjoying wombat stew because we love singing the wombat stew verse together and love being grossed out by the contents of the stew

  25. karina lee
    March 29, 2016 at 10:48 am (3 years ago)

    We love reading The Hungry Caterpillar, because my daughter loves her food!

  26. Lauren @ Create Bake Make
    March 29, 2016 at 2:07 pm (3 years ago)

    While both the boys are currently in love with their Lego City Learn to Read books and after reading them they then like to act out the story with their lego, they are currently obsessed with a book called ‘Who’s Poo’ yep, I’m not kidding. We bought it a few years ago to help toilet train Liam and it’s basically pictures of things like nuts and bolts (robot poo) glitter (fairy poo) etc floating in the toilet. You can just imagine how much I love reading it too…

  27. Ern
    March 29, 2016 at 3:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Mr Men books, he got them ALL for Christmas, so we read a different one each night before bed. Mr Tickle though, seems to always end up on the top of the pile, it’s his favourite out of all of them.

  28. Sarah
    March 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm (3 years ago)

    My 7 year old absolutely loves reading and is so good at it, so much so that he has whipped through the reader levels at school and is just on young novels now. I firmly believe this love of reading stems from us starting reading to him early and always making sure we had good quality books on hand for him.

    At the moment he has just discovered Paul Jennings books, we’re currently giggling our way through ‘Trickiest Stories’.

  29. Laura Power
    March 29, 2016 at 8:23 pm (3 years ago)

    We have a great big fat book of old classic nursery rhymes and songs that lives on my little boys bedside table, great fun bedtime stories, Miss Muffet , Old king Cole and so many great tales I remember from my own childhood.

  30. Stacey Shailer
    March 29, 2016 at 9:47 pm (3 years ago)

    My son is loving the book A Particular Cow by Mem Fox at the moment. We love the cow’s antics on her particular Saturday morning walk 🙂

  31. [email protected]
    March 29, 2016 at 10:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Really great tips here Renee. I feel anxious for my 5 year old learning to read I know it will not happen overnight. I love the description of your little bookworm girl taking her books to bed. Long may that last. Your blog looks lovely by the way. Today my five year old and I enjoyed “The Tickle Monster” I tickle him along with the story and he giggles and sequels with delight such a beautiful way to share words together.

  32. blake haugen
    March 30, 2016 at 1:47 pm (3 years ago)

    The giving tree is divine
    a message of sharing and love.
    Branches for shade,
    branches to climb.
    The more love
    the more the tree gives.
    When the child turns old
    the tree is a stump for him to sit on.
    A beautiful book that we keep reading and enjoying.

  33. sapna
    March 31, 2016 at 2:46 pm (3 years ago)

    “Too many pears ” is our favourite these days because it has cute and funny illustrations – plus the story makes us laugh everytime we read it.

  34. Ying Ying Tan
    March 31, 2016 at 3:50 pm (3 years ago)

    My daughter is engrossed in ‘Meet Marly – Our Australian Girl’ story about Marly who is a refugee from Vietnam trying to fit into the school in Australia. She can relate to this book especially after learning all about Vietnam on Harmony Day at school.


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