Mom reading with preschoolerAs a professional tutor, I meet with many distressed parents who aren’t sure where to turn when they learn their child is a struggling reader. While they are motivated to confront the issue, they rarely recognize their own role and ability to be instrumental to their child’s reading achievement.

What is the single most important step parents can take at home for remedial reading help or to enrich their child’s reading? The secret solution is reading aloud.

Read aloud with your kids at every opportunity available. Not only will hearing stories allow your children to experience different forms of language, rhythm, and sound, it will inform them on topics they might not otherwise learn about. Hearing you reading (not lecturing, not nagging) is calming, and lends itself to a chance for connection, even well beyond the preschool years. Here are some of my favorite tips for storytime.

1. Lose the insecurity that you’re not an entertaining reader.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you honestly don’t even have to be a good reader to be effective. If you are a slower reader, this could actually be more beneficial to your child. She will hear the words more clearly.

2. Choose engaging material to read.

It’s okay if you are not a naturally theatrical person, but reading aloud is not a time to be a shy performer with your kids. For younger children, select fun-to-read books with repetitive phrases and rhymes so kids can begin to join in and finish your sentences. Read with feeling and emotion. Pause on occasion so children can anticipate what is coming next. Let yourself be silly or dramatic.

3. Make connections outside of the story.

Good readers don’t just stay focused on the words and plot. They think about connections outside of the story to better comprehend what they are processing and reading. You can help your child develop this habit by pausing and asking questions such as, “James in this story thinks he would rather be a kangaroo. What do we know about kangaroos?”

4. Begin reading aloud before your child’s first birthday.

Your baby is not too young for books! Focusing on pictures helps eye muscle development, and each time babies hear a word, it becomes more ?securely anchored in memory. You will never regret making time to read aloud with your infant.

5. Never underestimate the power of board books. 

Brightly illustrated books without words are excellent for making up stories, pointing to objects, and repeating vocabulary. Let your preschooler imagine and recite a story about the pictures to you. Board books build fine-motor skills as well, and kids find great pleasure in turning the pages.

6. Acknowledge that you must make time to read.

Many parents cannot see how they will possibly squeeze time for reading into their busy lives. But it is simply too important to neglect. Research reveals consistently that preschoolers who are exposed to lots of books and conversation perform better at school. So instead of watching TV before bedtime, reach for a book. Develop a habit of stopping at the library regularly.

7. Read to them regardless of their age—and even if they’re not struggling.

Reading aloud helps your children develop a love for literacy. As parents, we need to keep encouraging older kids to read. Sometimes tweens become temporarily turned off to reading and forget about the magic of books. Think about reading together the latest series made into films so you can discuss discrepancies and casting choices.

8. Practice what you preach.

It’s important that you model reading for kids—even if it’s a recipe or magazine. We all get too much screen time, and quiet time spent reading is a much healthier way to unwind.

Child literacy expert Nicola Morgan writes, “If something isn’t fun, children won’t do it. And they have brilliant ways of avoiding what they don’t want to do, such as pretending they can’t. Or making you feel guilty. If your child doesn’t enjoy it, he won’t try. If he finds it hard, he will think he is not good at it. Your job is to make it fun and easy.”

Awesome Read-Aloud Books


  • Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle
  • The Stars Will Shine, by Cynthia Rylant
  • Sheep in a Jeep, by Margot Apple

Lower grades

  • Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume
  • The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech
  • Million Dollar Throw, by Mike Lupica

Middle school

  • Scat, by Carl Hiaasen
  • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
  • Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, by Sharon Creech

Michele Ranard has a master’s of education degree and is passionate about helping students become better readers.