• Laetitia deVries

How can I help my child learn to read?

Lesson 1 - this is a series of posts that build upon each other as we explore some strategies that will make a difference to help your child in their learning to read journey.

When we learn to read we are pulling together a lot of information to make decisions about making meaning, decoding words, sequencing, and interpreting illustrations. Each one of these is complex for a struggling or beginning reader so it is important we break it down for them in manageable chunks.

The act of sitting together and sharing a story is not only so valuable but is also special time spent together. It is a very powerful time spent on promoting;

  • the joy of story and imagination

  • how to read with expression and fluently

  • how to decode words

  • the use of illustrations to make sense of a story

  • when we read we go left to the right then return, reading the top to bottom and the left page before right page

  • and building up their bank of new words and their meaning

Reading a variety of book types will offer new and valuable learning opportunities.


Follow these steps to reading a simple text story together. This is a first and vital step for learners who struggle to read or are just starting their journey in reading.

Investigate the cover.

  • Title - share the title - What could this story be about?

  • Pictures - What can you see happening in this picture?

  • Author - share the name and perhaps anything you may know about the author to make them a real person.

Now let's explore the book.

Your aim is to;

- build up knowledge about the story

- notice what they notice to help you make corrections

- enjoy the story

As you turn pages demonstrating going from left to write explore the illustrations asking these questions as you go. Don’t read the story yet, just investigate the meaning of the story through the pictures.

What do you notice about this picture/person / animal?

Who might this person/animal be?

Where are they in this story?

What time of day/night is it in the story? How do you know?

What is happening in this picture? How do you know?

Who do you think this story might be about?

What do you think will happen next?

What do you think this story is about?

When you have gone through the book talking about the illustrations, asking some or all of these questions go back to the beginning and read the story to them. You can point to the words as you read so they may follow the text with you while checking in with the pictures as you go.

Struggling to get them to engage?

Let them choose;

- the story you read together out of three you offer to them.

- where you sit. Get creative about the places where you can tell a story. Indoors or out, in the sandpit or under a tree, create the scene of the story for them if the story is set in the backyard to sit outdoors in the middle of a grassy patch if it is set at the beach to sit in a sandpit if you have one.

Give them something to help them focus;

- Bring a friend - toy, cuddly, sibling

- Set up a classroom where all the toys get to be the students and read to everyone.

- Build a readers corner somewhere quiet with cushions, soft toys, a blanket, and a basket of books for them to explore independently. It could be a tent, hut under a table, or blow up pool indoors. Great for setting expectations of enjoying reading whenever they want to.

- Use a pointer for them to point to the things they are looking at. This could be a stick from the garden, driftwood stick or even a spoon.

Feeling creative

-Try using a puppet to tell the story and ask the questions. You may be surprised by what happens.

- Ask them to act out what the characters are doing so you are offering drama as a way to tell a story.

Have fun! You are amazing! It is not easy finding time to sit and enjoy a story together when life is so busy. Please know that this is a valuable step in the learning to read journey that will make a difference.

More good things to come….

We will continue to post the next steps to help your child on their learning to read journey.