Reading with 3-5 year olds

Between the ages of 3 and 5, your child will start making their own steps towards being an independent reader.

They will start to understand that those squiggly black lines on a page or on a sign are words. And those words mean something.

Figuring out what those words mean is a complex process.

But all the reading you do together will help them start to work this process out.

Picture books aren’t the only place they will see words.

When you are out and about, help them notice

  • the signs on shops
  • street signs
  • names on food and boxes in the supermarket

One of the first words kids usually learn to recognise is their own name.

Then they might start noticing the names of family members and friends.

Reading at home

When you read aloud to your child you are helping them:

  • hear and learn new words
  • understand how written stories sound
  • enjoy stories that are too difficult for them to read themselves

At home, you might have favourite picture books you read together.

It’s perfectly normal to read them over and over again.

Some children will start “reading” them from memory.

Although they aren’t really reading the words on a page, this is still a great thing to do. It helps them get used to how sentences sound. It also builds their confidence and it’s fun.

The important thing is that they enjoy the process of reading a book and it gives them confidence.

You can also start getting your child to use pictures in books as clues to the story. It’s okay for them to rely on the pictures to help them read. They might even make up their own story!

Remember that you don’t have to buy books, you can borrow them from your local library in person or online.

When they start Kindergarten, they will be able to borrow books from the school library.

Top tips for reading with your 3-5 year old

  1. Make time each day to read aloud to your child.
  2. It’s okay for your kids to tell a story by looking at the pictures in a book.
  3. Talk to your kids about the books you read together. Ask who, what, where and why questions about what happened in the book.
  4. Keep singing nursery rhymes and songs with your child.
  5. Parent Hack: Watch a picture book with your kids on YouTube or Storybox and turn on the subtitles so you can read along together.