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A Reading Checklist: Birth Through Age Six

There are many ways to encourage your child to become involved in reading. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help stay on track:

For Babies (Six Weeks to One Year)

Do I provide a comfortable place for our story time? Is my child happy to be here?

Am I showing her the pictures in the book? Am I changing the tone of my voice as I read to show emotion and excitement?

Am I paying attention to how my child responds? What does she especially like? Is she tired and ready to stop?

For Toddlers (One to Three Years)

All of the questions above, plus:

Does my child enjoy the book we are reading?

Do I encourage her to "pretend read," joining in where she has memorized a word or phrase?

When I ask questions, am I giving my child enough time to think and answer?

Do I tie ideas in the book to things familiar to my child? Do I notice if she does this on her own?

Do I let my child know how much I like her ideas and encourage her to tell me more?

Do I point out letters, such as the first letter of her name?

Remember: Children learn step-by-step in a process that takes time and patience. They vary a great deal in the rate they make progress and in what holds their interest.

For Preschoolers (Three and Four years)

All of the questions above, plus:

Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify letters and make the letter-sound matches?

For Kindergartners (Five Years)

All of the questions above, plus:

Do I find ways to help my child begin to identify some printed words?

Do I let my child retell favorite stories to show she knows how the story goes and what's in it?

For Beginning First-Graders (Six Years)

All of the questions above, plus:

Do I give my child the chance to read a story to me using the text, picture clues, her memory -- or any combination of these ways that help her make sense of the story?

Source: Helping Your Child Become a Reader, U.S. Department of Education

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