PART 2: THE GROWING YEARS — FROM INFANCY TO ADOLESCENCE
GETTING YOUR CHILD READY TO READ
Guest Article – Dr. Vibha Krishnamoorthy
Dr. Vibha Krishnamoorthy is an expert on developmental disorders in children.
Reading is perhaps one of the most important human inventions. We differ from animals — who also have
language — in our ability to read and write. It is not
surprising therefore that reading, unlike talking, does not come intuitively
or instinctively to a child. There is ample
research to show that a child’s home environment, especially
early exposure to language and importance given to reading in
the family, can influence a child’s ability to be a good
In other words, children who are read to, learn to read.
In today’s urban world, it has become even more
essential to be able to read well, for a child to be able to
perform well at school, and for her subsequent career. Ironically,
children today have fewer incentives to read with the availability to alternative media like television or the computer.
It is not essential for a parent to be able to read fluently, or to be able to read at all, for a child to develop good
pre-reading skills. In fact, research at Boston City Hospital has demonstrated that even children of illiterate parents,
from very poor homes, can learn to enjoy reading if they are exposed to a good amount of language and to books at an
Our country has a rich tradition of story telling, which
can be drawn upon to expose the child to a large vocabulary, which is a prerequisite for language and literacy. It
has the added advantage of ensuring quality time spent with a parent or grandparent.
When To Begin Reading To Your Child
Parents are always amazed when they are told that they
can begin reading to the child as early as when the child is 6 months old. The important thing to remember is that
there should be no actual pressure on the child to read upto
the age of 6.
You can begin reading to your child after 6 months of age
Initially, you don’t have to read what is actually
written in the book; you can just talk about the pictures instead.
In this manner, he will learn to enjoy books, and eventually to
6 to 12 Months
At this age, infants love board books, especially those
with pictures of other babies, and familiar objects like
balls, cars, 141 toys, etc. A photo album with family members and friends
is also a good idea. Remember, your child will still want
to mouth everything as part of the exploratory process.
Story or book-time can be part of a bedtime routine. Books with
plastic pages are also available which can be drooled on or
enjoyed in the bath!
12 to 24 Months
The child will now want to take part in deciding which
book to read. Let her also decide how long she wants to read. Never force your child to read when she is not interested. She
may like books about animals, books with pictures of children like herself doing things like playing, eating, etc. Choose
books with few words per page, and those that have a
predictable pattern, like a simple rhyme. By 18 to 24 months, many children will start completing the end of
when the parent says, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to
fetch a pail of..?” the child will respond with “water”.
2 to 5 Years
The child gains more and more pre-reading skills. She
may move a finger from left to right pretending to read. She may also read books to her doll as part of pretend play.
Children at this age love books that tell stories, books with simple text about going to school or to the doctor, and about
having a brother or sister. Your child may start telling you
the story — which may be completely different from the one you told her!
Always let your child decide which book she wants to
read. While you need to keep a watch on whether your child is reading material that is age appropriate, don’t force
her to read books which you think are “good for her’’.
Once your child has acquired the reading habit, it is much easier
to introduce her to new books.
11 February, 2013