Many parents think their children begin to learn to read in kindergarten. But, in reality the process starts much earlier. The building blocks for literacy skills are laid during infancy. Reading to your child from an early age will have a great impact on your child’s future relationship with reading.

You can start by giving your child books to hold, to chew on, and to open and close. Contrasting colors will be stimulating to their senses. Children will respond to the familiarity of your voice and this will encourage their interest.

As your child gets older, point to the pictures as you say the words. Later, ask your child to point to the pictures. Invite your child to say the words with you or after you. Feel free to use silly expressions and noises-the point is to make it enjoyable and engaging for your child.

It is common for young children to want to hear the same book over and over again. There is comfort in the familiarity of the repetition. This is okay, follow your child’s lead. If you are reading a story the child knows well, ask questions about what’s going to happen next.

Even after your children learn to read independently, you can continue to read to them. This provides a way to explore more challenging stories and engage in conversations about the storyline and the characters.

My six year old son still likes me to read from the same five stories every night but recently I have noticed him following along as I read. My eight year old daughter is an avid reader, but she loves for me to read to her each night. She has grown to like books in series, and yesterday I heard her summarize the plot of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (which we finished reading a month ago) to my son in amazing detail. It warmed my heart.

Are there favorite books you like to read to your children? Pat the Bunny was a favorite of ours when my children were young…