How to Teach Kids to Read: 5 Ideas That Work

When you already know how to read, it seems like such an easy skill. Then you sit down with your child and the prospect of teaching reading to them becomes suddenly overwhelming! Don’t worry! Teaching your kids to read takes time but with these 5 ideas, you’ll notice marked improvement in your child’s reading skills in no time. 

Go Through the Motions

Before children can read, they need to understand the basics of how to read. It may seem obvious but it can sometimes be an overlooked building block to reading! Make sure your child knows how to hold a book (right-side up!), start on the first page and turn one page at a time. Once a page is open, have them practice putting their fingers under words to help them keep their place and sound things out.

Encourage Reading

A common obstacle in teaching your child to read can be getting them to enjoy reading. However, the more you read and prioritize reading in your life, the more they will too. Below, you will find some quick behaviors you can change that will encourage your child to learn to read.

Read with your child at night, instead of watching TV

Reading to your child every night will make this an important part of their nightly routine. Consider adding extra incentive by letting your child stay up a bit past bedtime if they are reading or if they ask you to read to them. 

Make books easily accessible in your home

Keep your child’s books on shelves that are easy to access and more visible than other toys.

Reward your child with books instead of toys

When you shop try skipping over the toy aisles and give your child the opportunity to spend time in the book aisles. Also try trading some coveted play time at the park for library time on your way home!

Monkey see, monkey do!

Remember, your child wants to be just like you! If you spend time reading, they will start pulling out books to read as well (even if they are initially just looking at the images). You can also make reading a part of your conversations with your family at dinner time. Asking your child to talk about a book they read or tell you about their favorite book will inspire them to keep reading so they have more stories to share with you!

Trust in the Pros on How to Teach Kids to Read

Once your child values reading, your next obstacle may be the overwhelming task of explaining something you know how to do so well that you don’t know how to explain it to someone else! Sounding out words is tough to wrap an adult brain around, let alone explain to a child. Why does “a” sound different in “apple” than “ate” and why is there an “h” in “hour” if we don’t pronounce it?! Don’t worry. You’re not alone and help is available!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a teacher or a librarian for help

If your child is struggling with a certain reading task, their teacher has likely seen the same reading issue dozens of times before and will have some pointers to help with at-home reading! Your local library might offer “story time”. Take your child and afterwards, consult the librarian for help on reading roadblocks you are facing with your child. 

Youtube is your friend

No need to reinvent the wheel when someone has already made a catchy video on Youtube to help your child sound out letters and words! For example, type in “letter sounds song” and you’ll find a variety of results that have worked for millions of parents. Learn a few songs and sing them along with your kiddo to practice different sounds!

Practice Reading Out of the House

Whether you are on a walk downtown or driving to school, words are everywhere! Practice sight with your child when you are out and about. This is a great way to teach your kids how to read while you’re on the go!

Stop Sign Game

Tell your child to point out every time they see a stop sign and say the word “stop”. You can make this a point-based game with them and compete to see who can find the most stop signs. Once they master this game, have them practice spelling “stop” to you.

Parking Lots

Parking lots are full of signs and a lot have fairly short, simple words with lots of different letters to practice! Have your child practice reading words to you in parking lots like “no parking”, “fire lane” and  “tow zone”. You can also explain to your child what these words mean and then ask them for advice when they see the sign again. “What does that sign say? Can I park there?” This will help them understand how important reading is and also that they can use reading to help you!

Get Creative Teaching  Your Kids How to Read

Reading can become a part of a lot of your child’s favorite activities. They might not want to sit down and read a book but you can add reading to lots of other activities! Here are a few ideas on getting creative while you teach your kids how to read:

Arts and Crafts Time

There are many creative ways to make reading a fun arts and crafts project! One fun activity could be writing a word and having your child color them in. Similarly, you could write down a word and have your child draw a picture of it (ex. “sun” or “tree”). You can even go to a store and pick up a coloring book with words! There are plenty of story books that are made for coloring. Once they finish coloring a page, read it out together.


Play charades but instead of acting out “things” —act out letters! Ex. “What letter am I? What noise does that letter make?”.


Have your child make letters out of play-doh. You can also write words in play-doh and have them sound them out. 

As time progresses and your child learns reading is fun, it will become a past-time they love and cherish. Enjoy learning to read to, and with, your child and soon enough, they will be asking to read to you!