I liked the resources I listed in the post in response to a person who wanted ideas to help her 4 yr old have a literacy-rich environment. Here it is....
My 4yr old dd loves stories, "reads" usually to herself, but sometimes aloud (in
her words she remembers). That IS the beginning of reading. They ARE beginning
to read. This is part of the learning process. She is on her way. Trust that
by enjoying reading together and living in a literacy-rich world, she will be
putting more and more words together.
Some things we do...point out signs like EXIT (might say, "If you ever want to
find the way out of a building, look for the EXIT sign." And then point it
out.), NO (gosh, isn't that everywhere...esp NO DOGS ALLOWED, NO SMOKING, etc),
OUT (leaving the grocery store I might say, "Stay to the right side. We need to
go out the door that says "O-U-T" so we stay safe." I might also point out the
"Do Not Enter" sign on the door meant for coming in and why it is there.)
There are times when I have asked one of my kids to hit the "start" button on
the dishwasher for me (I spell it out or say it begins with ST). Or to turn the
stove to "off" or "low." They learn by real life things like that.
My first dd (now almost 13) read at 3 1/2. She and I read lots of books
together as that was one of her favorite things to do (still is). I did hang up
very large rectangular cards around the house (ie. wrote bedroom on the bedroom
door) when she was around two. I did a flashcard game with her for about two
months till it didn't seem fun anymore, but I don't think that had anything to
do with it. I honestly think that she learned to read because she enjoyed it so
much and because she was developmentally ready.
My 8 yr old ds has been learning to read over the past couple of years. He
wanted to read Pokemon, Magic The Gathering and other cards, follow instructions
for computer games and interact with other players (by writing/chatting during
games). He also wanted to look things up on the internet and to research the
worth of MTG cards and to read what each card can do (abilities, damage, etc).
Personal and internal motivation.
What else can you do to create a literacy rich environment? I have some ideas,
but do things together because they are fun and you enjoy doing them, not solely
because you think it will lead to your dd reading.
Write her a letter and really mail it to her. Kids love to get mail. She might
be excited seeing her own name on the envelope.
Ask her if she wants to write a letter to a friend or grandmother. If so, she
can tell you what to write. She can sign her name, or illustrate it or do
whatever she wants to. You can ask her if she wants you to write "Please write
back" on it.
Make a book together. It can be however she wants to make it. We have even cut
up an old book and pasted the pictures and wrote a few words to make a new book.
Sometimes our books had a picture of something on one page and a label for the
picture on the other page. (like Daddy or dog for example)
Write a story. Ask her if she would like you to write what she says down. You
can write it wherever she wants (on computer or in a notebook or on any paper).
She can keep it handy for reading or illustrate it if she wants to, or not. Let
Another thing that my kids love is listening to made up stories. They sometimes
ask me to tell them stories before we go to sleep. Each child has a particular
kind of story they like. My older one enjoys scary stories, my son likes
adventurous stories with him in them where he meets the Scooby Doo gang and is
part of the gang helping to solve mysteries, and my 4 yr old dd likes stories
about our neighbor's dog and another dog doing all sorts of things.
Play with letters...plastic, wooden, magnetic letters.
Share a poem or rhyme with your dd. Story: My 4 yr old dd kept asking if
certain words rhymed. Usually they didn't. I kept trying to explain how to
tell when words rhymed...might be same spelling at the end of the word (cat,
rat), but the key is that it must sound alike at the end of the word. She just
didn't get it. This went on for a long time. Although I know she'd eventually
understand a rhyme, I mentioned this to my friend and she said that her kids
learned rhymes by singing "Down By the Bay." I only vaguely remembered that
song. She said her kids all enjoyed singing it and coming up with silly parts
that rhyme in the last part. Something to pass the time during long car trips.
We learned it and now enjoy making up silly things at the end of the song...they
don't always rhyme when my dd sings them, and that's okay, because we are having
fun and things like rhyming come over time when the person is ready. My other
kids and I enjoy the creative rhyming bit though.
Do Miss Merry Mac or other hand games you enjoyed as a child.
Your dd might like to type on an old typewriter or on the computer. If she ever
asks how to spell a word, just answer her on letter at a time. Show her how to
make the font huge (not only is it fun, but easier to see when first learning to
read). Maybe she'd like to spell out her name in huge letters? You can make
her a special folder on the computer to keep her special documents she creates.
I still have stories on our computer that my son dictated to me when he was
She might like to trace her name on paper with colored markers, pens or pencils.
Or trace any word relevant to her. You could ask her if she wants to and if so,
what word she wants you to write.
If your dd seems disappointed, allow her to have her feelings about that. By
having trust in her eventually being able to read, you give her the
self-confidence she needs to continue learning with joy.
You know she will eventually learn to read and if she wants you to read to her,
you can. If she wants to read what she thinks the words say, that is great too.
Does she seem disappointed only when others are present while she is reading
aloud? Could she somehow feel evaluated? Or do you think she feels frustrated
even when no one is around to hear the words?
My 4 yr old loves to take books with her to the potty. She sometimes reads
aloud while I fold laundry nearby until she is done. She flips through the
pages. I know she loves the pictures. Sometimes I hear her reading aloud
(whatever way she remembers the book). Occasionally she asks me if she is
reading a certain page correctly. She might say something like, "Is that
right?" when reading a page from Go Dog Go. She usually is able to read some
words whether from memory or because she can read a few words (I think more from
memory though). Either way, I am honest with her. I might say "Yes!" or "Wow!
Very close!" and read and point to the words she was asking about. I keep it
positive and focus on what she does know and go with her flow. Sometimes we
talk about the pictures or our favorite parts of a book, other times she is
interested in words. Mostly our favorite parts though and the pictures.
Laurie :) (who loves to read herself!)