Helping With Reading


From the time you start reading books with your child the stories will come alive! Children develop their reading skills in different ways. Try to respond to your child’s needs and go at their pace… they learn better when they enjoy reading! The most important thing for you and your child is to share a quiet time enjoying stories. Books are fun to read and we hope you will enjoy sharing them with your child whilst helping them become a more confident reader. Children often want to listen to the same story again and again. This is good as it builds confidence and familiarity with words and reinforces that stories are fun!

Try to share books together each day, and not just at bedtime. Reading aloud helps children become readers as they learn to talk about the story, join in the parts they know and eventually recognise words on the page. A few minutes of special, quiet time with a book every day is much more valuable than half an hour once a week. Join the local library! It’s free and no one is too young or old to be a member!

Here are some ideas for reading activities to try with your child…

Easy starters…

  • Words don’t just belong in books. Encourage your child to look around and see words everywhere – signs, posters, shop windows, newspapers, groceries, football shirts and titles of TV programmes.

  • Sing rhymes so that your child can see how letters make the same pattern in different words.

  • Help your child to learn the key words to build up sight vocabulary

  • Play ‘odd one out’ e.g. cat, mat, sat, dog, hat, bat

  • Play ‘I spy’ to show every word begins with a letter.

  • Point out different names of different foods as you pass them in the shops

  • Show your child that we read the words in a book from left to right by pointing under them with fingers – yours first, then theirs!

  • Encourage your child to choose a book for you to read to them.

  • Praise your child when they work out a new word independently or when they put right a word they got wrong the first time.

The next step…

  • Select sentences from the text. Can your child alter the sentence by changing a word? Can they retell the story? For example – ‘Floppy went in the mud’ can become ‘Floppy jumped in the river.’

  • Make the most of school books! Look at the cover – use the words author, title, blurb and publisher. Predict what the story is about.

  • Check your child is really following what they are reading by asking them to tell you the story in their own words – who are the characters? What happens in the story?

  • Allow your child to re-read favourite and familiar stories – knowing a book helps them notice more about the words on the page and they will start to recognise the patterns in new words and stories.

  • Listen to stories learned by heart and encourage your child to re-tell them in their own words …or be brave and act them out!

  • Select simple words from the text. Can your child write a list of other words with the same rhyming pattern? Try lots of different spelling patterns. E.g. in bin pin thin tin etc.

  • Write a ‘word bank’ of new words that your child has not met before. Do they know what the word means? Which sounds / phonemes do they recognise in the word? For example, children may not have seen the word ‘stream’ but will understand the meaning. Therefore they may attempt the word using the sounds they know – s, t, r and m.

  • Help your child see that they already know the biggest part of words like play-ing, eat-en, walk-ed by breaking down the word. If they read the part they know you can finish it letter by letter.

  • Help with long words by clapping along together or counting the chunks of the word (e.g. 3 = tram-po-line, 4 = all-i-ga-tor). Write out long words and cut them into small pieces for your child to put back together the right way round.

  • If your child gets a word wrong let them finish the sentence before you correct them. Children often realise what the word should be and self correct it. If your child doesn’t know a word encourage them to say ‘something’ and work it out using the story.

And there’s more…

  • Using words from the text ask your child to write the words in order to learn their spellings. Use the ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ method, which they will have used at school. With practice they will be able to spell more independently.

  • Ask your child to retell the story in their own words; what is their favourite part? Why?

  • Find books about something you know they like or a topic they are studying in school.

  • Discuss the characters in the story. Ask your child to draw and write about the characters. Discuss their appearance, their feelings at certain parts of the story and their actions. What does your child think about these characters? Do they have anything in common with the character? Why?

  • Read a story together then read it again missing out words. Ask your child to fill in the clanks, a different word than the one suggested.

  • Encourage your child to attempt crosswords and word puzzles as anything involving letters and words helps with reading skills.


Children learn to read in different ways, overcoming early difficulties and developing strengths in their own time, but occasionally a child who has areas of ability may not progress as quickly as peers. Someone mentions dyslexia and you start to wonder ‘How do I know if my child is dyslexic?’ Children with dyslexia have difficulty identifying separate sounds in words; they have problems with unusual pronunciation and problems reading simple common words. But not always! Your child may not have shown all these signs but a significant number of them, which might suggest further testing by an Educational Psychologist could be appropriate.


  • Don’t panic! Children learn to read at different rates. Remind them of the things they are good at including sport and creative activities.

  • Keep cool! It is important not to get fed up if your child needs to practise things over and over again!

  • Ask us! Ask your child’s teachers for advice and ideas about how you can help with reading We’re here to help!

  • Click here to read our ‘jargon buster’ list of reading terms.

Here are some useful websites…

Oxford Reading Tree – read selected titles online for free! Just select age group, enter the title and sit back and enjoy!

The yuckiest site on the net - guaranteed to get anyone reading!