Raising Young Readers: 5 Essential Resources

Raising Young Readers: 5 Essential Resources | Red Apple ReadingAs parents we want to support our children in all their endeavors. Whether they are learning to walk, ride a bike, or play an instrument, we want to provide them with the necessary resources to help them succeed. Reading is also an important endeavor for children to master. Red Apple Reading would like to share 5 essential resources parents can employ as they raise their young readers.

1.  Books – This probably goes without saying, but if you want to raise a competent young reader, you need to have books in the house. Even a small library of books can be enough to inspire and challenge your kiddo. Children need to have a selection of books to choose from for both independent reading and for reading time with parents. If you are on a budget (and most of us are), visit a local thrift store and pick up some second-hand books, or visit your local library. You can also check out sites such as Half.com and Amazon to purchase gently used books. Another great book resource is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If your child is between the ages of birth to five years, you can register online and a free book will be delivered to your home monthly!

2.  ABC Manipulatives – Another important resource for young readers is alphabet toys/manipulatives. There is no end to the learning toys available that allow youngsters to interact with letters. These toys include alphabet blocks, magnets, flash cards, etc. A quick perusal of Pinterest will yield several ABC manipulative suggestions. One particularly helpful blog with several alphabet gift ideas is And Next Comes L. By providing your kiddo with a few alphabet toys, you help them become familiar with their letters. Your child’s interaction with letters will encourage word building and lay a foundation for future reading.

3.  Sight Word Flash Cards – Sight words are words that are commonly found throughout written texts which kids need to recognize on sight (without sounding out phonetically). Young children need to practice these words often in order to be successful readers. Chances are your kiddo is already reviewing these daily in class, but the extra work at home will pay huge dividends toward their reading success. There are many other activities you can practice using these common words that will help your child become a better reader. Visit Red Apple Reading’s Sight Word Savvy Pinterest board for some great ideas.

4.  Time – One of the most important resources you can make available to your young reader is your time. Children need their parents to spend dedicated reading time with them daily. This includes time reading aloud to them and listening to them read. Spending quality time curled up with a book together shows your child that reading is important. Reading aloud to your kid demonstrates fluency – an important skill to becoming fully literate. Listening to your child read can feel tedious; it can be painfully slow. However, the one-on-one instruction will help her to improve and before you know it, she will be reading like a champ!

5.  Red Apple Reading Membership – Red Apple Reading makes learning to read fun! Our Learning to Read levels offer engaging online instructional software that captivates young school-aged children 4 to 9 years old, turning them into active, confident readers. This is an excellent resource for families with young readers. Visit our website today to learn more about this exciting reading program! Or have an iPad? Look for our many apps in iTunes.


Literacy Activities: Toddler to Preschool – Reading Essentials #8

In my last post I discussed how you can get your child’s reading development off to a good start with activities for infants and toddlers. Those budding skills will need to continue being nurtured as your child moves from toddlerhood to preschool.

Ideally you have already familiarized your child with the alphabet by now, but if not then it is a good place to start. Once your child is familiar with the alphabet, you can begin introducing basic concepts of phonological awareness.

Literacy Activities: Toddler to PreschoolWhat is phonological awareness? 

It’s the understanding of sounds in relation to language. Phonemic awareness is one aspect of phonological awareness. It also includes an understanding of rhyme, syllables, and other aspects of language sound.

This may sound like rather complicated material to be introducing to a young child, but the development of phonological awareness is a natural part of the reading process, and evolves out of an understanding of the alphabet.

Phonological awareness has been shown to be a strong predictor of overall reading ability. Children who demonstrate an understanding of the connection between letters and their sounds tend to have an easier experience in building reading skills.

Once you see that your child is getting comfortable with identifying and naming letters of the alphabet, you can start drawing your child’s attention to phonological awareness concepts with these activities:

  • Practice letters with pictures:  Use letters with pictures that contain the letter sound to demonstrate sounds to your child. For example, show your child a flash card with a picture of a dog on it next to the letter d, and say the word “dog” out loud, emphasizing the /d/ sound.
  • Point out letters:  Point out letters within words in books, around the house, on signs, and so on, and explain the sounds those letters are making within the words.
  • Teach songs and rhymes:  Children’s songs and nursery rhymes can give children practice with hearing the natural rhythms of spoken language.
  • Introduce phonics-related online media:  Let your child watch videos that demonstrate letter-sound relationships, and introduce your child to interactive phonics activities on the computer or a smartphone app.
  • Visit phonologicalawareness.org for some more great resources and information.

One note to keep in mind when practicing letter sounds with your children is that individual phonemes are comprised of one sound only. For example, the /b/ sound in the letter “b” should not be pronounced “buh” or “beh.” When pronouncing letter sounds as a model for your child, try to keep each sound as distinct as possible–this will make it easier for your child to eventually blend multiple sounds together to make words.

A child who knows that the letters “b,” “a,” and “t” have the sounds /b/, /a/, and /t/ can eventually blend those sounds into the word “bat.” However, if the child hears those sounds as “buh,” “ah,” and “tuh,” he or she may attempt to blend the sounds into a multi-syllable or overly complicated word.

For more information and ideas, watch this YouTube video on Phonemic Awareness.
What are your favorite toddler or preschool activities to promote literacy? Questions or comments welcome here.

Literacy Activities from Infant to Toddler – Reading Essentials #7

Literacy Activities from Infant to ToddlerOne of the most important things you can do for your child from the beginning is to read to him. Reading books, even if they are plastic or board books, introduces your child to the wonderful world of reading that will become so critical once he enters school.

While reading to and with your child is essential in supporting your child’s future reading skills, there are other ways in which you can incorporate literacy activities into everyday life as well.

The youngest children can benefit from practice with one of the basic foundations of reading–the alphabet. You can support your child’s alphabetic knowledge in many ways:

  • Put up an alphabet poster or decorations: Display the alphabet prominently in some way, perhaps hanging letters as wall art, or putting up a poster with letters and pictures on it. This will give your child the chance to start connecting the visual symbols of the alphabet with their letter names. Ideas and Pics here
  • Teach your child the alphabet song: Since most children naturally love songs and singing, the alphabet song can be a great way for them to learn their letters. There are also a number of online resources available for learning different variations of the alphabet song with downloadable MP3s and music-based videos. Try KidsTV123 on youTube for starters.
  • Introduce your child to alphabet videos and online games: Let your child visually interact with the alphabet through computer resources such as videos, games, or even cell phone apps.
  • Incorporate letters into art activities: Although drawing or writing letters will be too difficult for the youngest children, you can provide them with letter stamps, letter cut-outs from newspapers and magazines, or create letters with other materials for use in art projects.

You can also offer your child activities that encourage the development of fine motor skills. Fine motor skills relate to movements involving small hand muscles that will eventually strengthen to the point that your child will be able to write. Give your child opportunities to practice hand activities such as folding paper, picking up and manipulating objects, cutting with safety scissors, and drawing and painting. These activities will help the strengthening of your child’s hand muscles. Fine & Gross Motor Activities

Do you have any creative ways to encourage literacy skills with our youngest learners? Our next Reading Essentials Series post will share some ideas for preschoolers.