How to teach children to read: fun ideas and useful tips

With the help of an expert, let’s find out how to teach children to read. Let’s see how, already in preschool age, the foundations for reading and writing skills are laid.

In this article, we will talk about what we can do to teach children to read, also thanks to the advice of an expert. We know how important it is, when children are small, to read aloud, as this is a way to start reading, but also to help younger children speak. Certainly, beyond particular cases, specific disorders, or a more general language difficulty, to teach reading, it is crucial to have created, or contributed to creating, an interest, a curiosity, even a real passion for reading. For this reason, although it is not up to parents to teach to read, we can do a lot to help children to feel curiosity towards stories, fables, these being the first approaches related to the world of paper.


  • The importance of reading at home
  • How to make children curious about reading
  • Relationship between symbolic play and reading
  • Teaching to read before primary school
  • What can we parents do
  • How to teach children to read: fun ideas

The importance of reading at home

Before reading on their own, it is important for children to listen to stories and stories read by an adult. This step remains fundamental, essential if we want to teach children to read. We must start from the importance of listening to a reading made by us adults. Just to get passionate about books and arouse curiosity, already in kindergartens, and in the spring sections, the book loan service is usual. A sort of school library, which can be used to borrow books to take home. Whatever the school program, moreover, the daily moment linked to reading is never missing. Because, as we have said, it is before the age of six, so before entering primary school, that the foundations are laid for the skills related to reading. A choral work, done by the school and by the parents, is also a way to teach new words, stimulate him to speak, develop the imagination.

“In the 0-6 age group, the foundations are laid for reading and writing skills. Beyond specific difficulties, linked to certified disorders, any difficulties in learning to read are linked to the lack of pleasure and interest in relation to the “object-book”. For this, it is essential that, from the first months of life, the child has the opportunity to interact with this object. It starts from the illustrated books in thick hardcover, with many images and few words, up to approaching real books with the mediation of the adult, and then starting to do it independently. When pleasure and interest are lacking, the risk is that, from primary school onwards, the obligation / task is used, in asking the children to approach books and their reading. Fortunately, today, as education experts and professionals, we know that there are far more effective and pleasant methods to support children in their positive relationship with books “.

These are the words of Margherita Cardellini, pedagogue and psychomotorist. We cannot talk about how to teach children to read, if we do not start from what happens before the start of elementary school. Thanks to Cardellini’s gaze, we understand what contribution we can offer, in the preceding phase. Before starting children in literature, much more needs to be done.

How to make children curious about reading

“The book must first and foremost be a relationship mediator. For this reason, it is important that parents start reading books to children, well before their ability to understand and follow a narrative rhythm is born. You can start from picture books, with a few simple words, phrases and nursery rhymes. The latter are very useful because they activate attention and pleasure, thanks to their rhythmic rhythm. As soon as the child acquires the ability to move independently, in space, even crawling, it may be useful to set up a small library station at his height, to which he can approach and take advantage of the books made available “.

Cardellini urges us to reflect on the importance of the book-object, which must be a permanent presence in our homes at the disposal of even the smallest child, and it doesn’t matter if it is only illustrated. In this way, inevitably, the book will be part of the daily life of the future reader.

With this in mind, it is also useful to create a list of books to read before bed, to create a constant appointment, every day.


Relationship between symbolic play and reading

We have said that the basics for learning to read start from when the child is a few months old up to the age of six. For this, we are all called to help lay the foundations, nursery school and parents, albeit to different degrees, to initiate the child to reading.

“Words are the symbols with which we communicate concepts. The first skill that underpins the path to reading-writing is symbolic skill, which means learning that there are some symbols attributable to specific concepts and words. It is a skill that originates from the so-called symbolic game, or the game of pretending, in which children learn to distinguish the plane of reality from the so-called symbolic plane. This tells us how fundamental the symbolic game is in the age group from 0 to 6 years. In other words, if a child has not yet structured the symbolic game well, it is important to restart and reinforce this level of competence, before going into pre-reading, pre-reading and prescribing exercises ”.

Teaching to read before primary school

Today’s children are subjected to many stimuli, the hectic life often leads us to make them burn the stages and to anticipate the times. We asked Cardellini if ​​she thinks it is important or, on the contrary, counterproductive, that we parents teach children to read before they start primary school.

“As pedagogists, teachers and educators, we observe a growing anxiety, on the part of families, related to the desire to school children early, in particular, through an advance in the teaching of reading and writing. At the same time, we also observe boys and girls with significant difficulties in terms of the pre-requisites necessary for the so-called schooling. I refer to language, orientation, psycho-motor skills, eye-manual coordination, memory and attention, socio-relational skills. Let us never forget that, without a solid foundation formed by the pre-requisites of development, we risk building a fragile building. For this reason, as a parent, I would completely avoid the purchase of books aimed at anticipating or speeding up reading-writing before entering primary school and, with great confidence, I would rely on the skilful work of the teachers of the kindergarten. who, in the last year, focus on the education of the graphic gesture and on the work of logical and narrative skills “.

What can we parents do

At this point, it is clear that, if on the one hand, our contribution is fundamental, to make children passionate about reading, on the other hand, it is better not to teach us to read, but to let the school do it. First to childhood and then to elementary school.

Of course, alongside the work of the school, we can put down some tricks to bring children closer to active reading. Here is some useful advice that Cardellini offers us.

“The most useful stratagem is to be, first of all, us adults, passionate readers. You will see that the children will be looking forward to acquiring the magical and beautiful skill of storytelling. They often go through a phase, usually in the kindergarten age, where they pretend to read a story, while not actually reading, but narrating the images and remembering a few words by heart. This is a particularly important phase that deserves to be supported. When a child wishes to play the role of narrator, let’s sit next to him, available, happy and eager to hear the story he pretends to read ”.

How to teach children to read: fun ideas

In conclusion, on the side of parents, more than teaching children to read, we must support them, make them curious, make them passionate about reading, making many books available to them, and, of course, show ourselves passionate readers too. For those who want to push themselves to do something more, let’s see some simple and fun ideas to teach how to read short sentences and letters.

  • Paper cubes

Together with our children, we create paper cubes, so that each face corresponds to a letter. With these you can then play as if they were dice: we will use the letter that came out, to match the words that begin with it.

  • Letter-animal pairing

We can combine the letters with cute objects or animals, to be drawn and then colored, starting with the reference letter. In this way, the child will more easily remember how to write and pronounce the letter, remembering the chosen object / animal.

  • DIY shaped letters

We can play with creativity and, with colors, cards and scissors, draw letters and words. We will ask him / her to color the interior, and, with glitter and stickers, psi will be able to embellish the cardboard created. We can then combine the letters to create words or short sentences.

The important thing about these or other ideas is that everything is experienced as a game, a moment to be together with mum and dad, without putting stress or performance anxiety.

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