Promoting Early Reading – Now What?

I’ve always endeavored to promote early reading for Norton.  Before he was even born, I started acquiring books for him.  I did the same thing for his big brother Andy, too.  With Andy, there was a lot of reading Dr. Seuss.  With Norton, though, my focus on early reading took a back seat to working past his toddler language delay.

Now that he’s starting to catch up on his toddler language delay issues, I’m moving back into early reading.  Honestly, though, renewed focus on promoting early reading comes from Norton using a toy to teach himself the alphabet.

Norton and Mommy reading a book together before bedtime.

Norton is doing some pretty impressive stuff these days.  He recognizes his letters, and he’ll go around pointing them out to me.  He’s spelled out “Joy” to the husband off of the spine of The Joy of Cooking in our dining room.  He has pointed out letters to me on the TV and also in any of the Spot books we read.  It’s pretty awesome.

So, now it’s time to move on to the next skill for promoting early reading with my smart toddler boy.  I know that the next logical step from there is to start teaching phonics, but I’m not exactly certain where to go with that.  I mean, it’s not like I exactly sat down and taught him the alphabet.

I know that I absolutely don’t want Your Baby Can Read.  It teaches memorization, not phonics.  Teaching phonics helps a child sound out a word to figure it out.  It’s far more empowering and a better teaching method than rote memorization of certain words.  (Yes, c-a-t spells “cat,” but why does it say “cat”?)  Every teacher that I know that has reviewed the program hates it.

There are a couple of other options that I’ve been thinking of.  One is the classic Hooked on Phonics program, but I wonder if Norton is a bit too young for it.  The pre-kindergarten program is for three and up.  He’s not even two and a half yet.  And is it realistic or appropriate to attempt to teach him early reading anything before we’ve even gotten to potty training?  Or before he’s completely licked his toddler language delay?

I don’t know.  I just know that I have a smart toddler, and I don’t want to stifle him.  I want to give him any edge that I can give him for his future in the challenging field of world domination academic success.

How did you promote early reading in your family?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. My oldest was like Norton. Loved books … and suddenly between 4 and 5 I realized she had learned how to read. Still have no clue how it happened. She has continued as an avid reader (just graduated college – they grow up fast). My sons learned to read at school, but my youngest learned with the Bob books. I tried phonics books but she hated them. She is 12 now and reads incredibly fast.

    • I think it just goes to show that there’s no one hard and fast way that works for all kids. 🙂 Congrats on your daughter’s graduation!

  2. I am a special ed teacher now – but was a primary teacher for 21 years prior to that.

    My suggestion would be to read lots of rhyming books and books that interest your child. As a toddler your child needs to fall in love with books and language and the connection with a caring and involved adult during reading time.

    Learning to predict the language in a story – or to finish a sentence of a known and loved book teach the important skills of early literacy.

    If you finger-track (glide your finger under the words) as you read to your child you will help his eye to learn that text goes from left to right. You will also help him to learn about one-to-one correspondence with text to language.

    Rhyming books are engaging to young children and teach phonemic awareness – this is an enormously important early literacy skill and one that is often lacking for children with a language delay.

    If you surround your child with books and stories, and talk about them with your child, and help them make connections with their own experiences, research shows that they will usually have the best basis and basics for success in school. In fact, reading with a child is the one of the single most important factor for developing literacy skills in young children. Another determining or correlating factor seems to be the number of books in the home.

    Additionally, something to consider is that program like “Hooked on Phonics” may turn your child off. I have yet to meet a family that raved about a program like this for their child. Reading needs to be about fun and connection with a parent. Your little Norton has lots of time in the future for formal teaching in this area, and too, these programs tend to be rather expensive. You can buy an awful lot of Scholastic books (book orders from preschool or daycare or elementary school) and have a wonderful library for your child for the same money.

    If your little guy is really interested in sounds and letters just keep doing what you are doing and let him explore the language and text in his environment – like on your cookbook. You can have an ‘N’ day – or go on a letter hunt – or match plastic letters to real items – or make letters in sand or play-dough.

    Hope this helps 🙂

    • It does. 🙂 Thanks! I’m looking forward to doing fun things with him to help keep him moving right along.

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