As seen in November 2010 – The Alternative Press– Nursery U – Danielle Lindner

Recently I was asked by a parent of a two year old, what she can do to make sure that her daughter is an early reader.  She stressed how inquisitive, intelligent and aware her daughter is and how she always enjoys looking at books.  What did I tell her?

When my first daughter was born, I was determined to raise a genius.

As soon as she was born, I immediately, went to and purchased every Little Einstein video I could find.  I made sure that I had black and white objects in the crib so that she would be stimulated before and after her nap and played Spanish and French Lullabies in her room.   Every month I would go out and buy the latest and greatest videos and toys that touted their link to exceptional child development.  By the time my daughter was 3, I was already ordering the entire “Hooked On Phonics” series.

By 4 she was reading chapter books and writing encyclopedia entries.  Well..not exactly.

The reality of it all was that she didn’t excel any faster than any other child, and in fact became more stressed out, than anything else.   She felt defeated when she could not remember the names and sounds of every letter, and lost interest in books.  She was inquisitive, intelligent and observant, but she was just not ready to read.

With child number two I tried something a bit different, we skipped the Baby Einstein and the “Hooked on Phonics” and simply read to her.  We read and read and read.  Every night before bed, the routine was the same, pick a book and read.

The outcome: a child who loves books and is eager to begin the process of learning how to read.  At age 5 she is excited about recognizing sight words, loves working in her easy readers, and has begun the process of creative spelling.

It is really wonderful when parents take an interest in their child’s reading readiness. However, there is no need to be overly concerned about him or her being an early reader.   While some children will begin reading at age 4, most children start with simple sight words at age 5 and progress from there.  Kindergarten is often the first time that children will begin learning phonics or whole language reading techniques.

Most children are eager to learn and inquisitive at age two and are absolute sponges.  The best thing to do at home, is to expose children to new and exciting things.

Children will learn how to read, but the attitude they have towards reading and literacy is up to us.  Let your child pick a story every night and just read to them.  That is the best way to foster a love of books and encourage an appreciation for reading.  Don’t worry about the reading process, just focus on the love of books and one day, despite what we might think, they will all know how to read them.