You have a toddler who loves books and stories and may even be ready to read simple books but you aren't quite sure how to encourage that. Or maybe your school-age child is having trouble reading books for homework.
Regardless of a child's age or ability level, almost every community has programs and resources that can help. One of the best is the local library. Besides a wealth of reading materials, many libraries offer story-time programs for babies and toddlers, homework help for school-age youngsters, and summer reading programs for kids of all ages. Look for recommended reading lists, prize-winning and new books, and holiday or theme-related books throughout the year.
Also remember that the library offers more than books. You'll also find magazines, activity packs with puzzles and games that relate to specific topics, lists of recommended websites for research, and audio recordings of favorite stories. A librarian can make suggestions based on your child's interests and needs.
Nursery school teachers, childcare providers, teachers, pediatricians, and the Internet are also good resources for reading information.
Elementary schools often have a reading specialist on staff. These professionals support teachers in the classroom by working on specific reading skills with individual students, assessing and organizing the reading curriculum, and acting as a resource for parents. Reading specialists can discuss your child's reading development and offer suggestions for activities to try at home. They may also offer parent workshops and provide information about community reading programs.
In many areas, schools and community organizations run literacy programs after school. The reading specialist or your child's teacher should be able to direct you to such programs in your area.
Lots of kids struggle with reading. The most important thing you can do is get help as soon as possible. If you're concerned about your child's reading ability, talk to a pediatrician, teacher, or reading specialist.
Reviewed by: Laura L. Bailet, PhD
Date reviewed: February 2010