4 Signs Your Child Is Ready to Read

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4 Signs Your Child Is Ready to Read

Like many things in life, it can be hard to predict when a child’s brain will be ready to make the millions of connections required to actually read a word on her own.  To illustrate how difficult making this prediction can be, I like to compare it to guessing when your child would walk.  For months you watched her pull herself up to a standing position and helped her take steps while she held on to your hands.  Then one day, maybe unexpectedly, she took her first step on her own.   {A moment I am sure you will never forget!}


Just like your child showed signs that she was almost ready to start walking, she will also give clues that she is ready to begin reading.  Teachers call these “pre-reading skills” and they include the following four concepts:



This is a no-brainer.  Children must be interested in reading before they will put forth the effort to learn how to do it.  Gathering books on topics your child enjoys and making story time a special chance to bond as a family are two quick ways to increase her motivation.  For additional ideas, click here.


Print Awareness

Children should understand that readers sound out words on a page by looking at letters, thinking about what sounds they make, and putting those sounds together to make words.  Kids don’t need to be able to actually sound out the word on their own, but they should grasp the concept.


This skill also includes understanding how to read a book.  Children should be able to point to the cover, show you how to turn a page when you finish reading the words, and hold the book so that it faces the correct direction.


One quick way to help your child improve her understanding of reading basics is to think out loud.  Check out the short video {below} explaining this technique.


Letter Recognition


Before children read, they also are able to quickly name the letters they see.  {“That is a B.  That is an O.”}  Being able to recognize the letters prepares them for learning letter sounds later.


Since some of the best {and most entertaining} learning happens when children are playing, you can begin helping your child recognize the letters by playing games with them.  Check out some of my favorite alphabet activities here.


Phonological Awareness


Said more simply, children need to be able to hear the sounds in words.  For example:

1.  Do “cat” and “dog” rhyme?  Answer: No, they do not end with the same sound.

2.  What is the first sound in the word “rabbit”?  Answer: /r/.

3.  How many syllables do you hear when you clap out the word “rodeo”?  Answer: Three – /ro/  /de/  /o/.


Great ways to help your child improve her phonological awareness include playing rhyming games like “Little Mouse, Little Mouse” and teaching her how to break words into parts using tricks like tapping out syllables.


By adding a few simple activities to your family routine, you can help your child strengthen her pre-reading skills and boost her reading readiness. For more low prep, fun pre reading activities for kids, check out our preschool reading activities here.


What other ideas would you add?  Post them to the comment board below.



Disclosure: Playdough to Plato is a participating member in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


Four Signs of Reading Readiness

About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4, 2.5 and 5 months}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.


  1. What a great post – we are missing out on learning letter names instead going straight for phonics/letter sounds. It’s already starting to show an affect – J is 33 months old and he’s starting to sound out letters in words that he can see.

    We also use Alphablocks (a Cbeebies cartoon for preschoolers) activities online and watch the programme during quiet times which I think supports the letter sound recognition and he enjoys as they are quite fun

  2. Yay! I love watching children learn to read. I haven’t heard about Alphablocks before but will definitely check it out now. Thank you for the recommendation, Cerys.

  3. My son will turn three in July and he has recently started reading beginner books. It is so exciting for us (and a little bittersweet seeing him grow up so fast)! I especially agree with the motivation aspect–I try to pay attention to what he’s interested in and run with it. There have been some things that he’s picked up early, and other things he’s done later.

    Thanks for the helpful links!

  4. reading readiness is a bit different in the waldorf school curriculum, which is where my daughter attends school. i think waldorf poses some interesting points about when kids are ready to read. this is an interesting post about reading from the waldorf-oriented blog, parenting passageway: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/21/regarding-waldorf-and-the-early-reader/

  5. I very much enjoyed reading the article! Thanks for introducing it to me.

  6. Very good list. I taught my girls the letter names and sound at the same time though. They are 4 and 5 and sounding out words pretty well!

  7. Good reminder that every child learns differently, Ashley!

    When I was teaching kindergarten, I also taught the names and sounds of letters at the same time. My Alphabet Olympics post shares some ideas on what that looks like: http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/2012/06/05/alphabet-olympics/

    Thanks again for sharing your family’s experience!

  8. Please could you update the link of the video for the Print awarness or send it to me thanks.


  9. I’m sorry that the link wasn’t working, Martine!! I just uploaded the video to the post. :)

  10. GREAT post, Malia! I am sharing this on my Facebook page and will be sure to direct readers to it when they’re wondering if their kids are ready to read.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing, Anna!!

  12. Your blog demonstrates that you really are really literate and
    efficient at writing attractive content material. Do you ever write for
    other individuals? I possibly could hire you for your work (by the
    hour, per short post, .etc).


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