When should my child start to read?

Many children don’t start reading until ages 5 through 7, but every child learns at their own pace! As a parent, you can start preparing your child for reading as early as toddlerhood. Below are some tips to help foster your child’s reading skills as they grow:

Ages 0-3: It’s never too early to read your little ones books to introduce sounds, words, and visuals. Reading provides them with the building blocks they need for language development. As your little one gets older, they'll be able to turn the pages of a board book. Your child will start to recognize favorite pages or pictures! Point out pictures that your child seems drawn to and make sounds that the characters might make, like “WOOF!” for a dog. Listening to music helps children develop their literacy skills and introduces them to different expressions. This is a great age to introduce singing the ‘ABC’s’. 

Ages 3-5: Make words and letters a part of your daily life by providing a print rich environment to familiarize your little ones with language. Constantly have books out and available, read the words on signs, keep written words at eye level, and read to them daily. Even before your child can read, you can practice identifying sounds of letters and words that rhyme.  Engage your child during and after a book by asking them questions about the story or to make a prediction and remember, no answer is wrong! Have your child look at the pages and practice recognizing upper and lower case letters. You can even make a game out of letter recognition DIY activities such as Alphabet Rock Matching.

Ages 5-7: By this age, your child may be ready to take the next step towards reading - associating the correct sound with each letter. Practice blending the sounds of each letter together to sound it out, starting with 3 letter consonant-vowel-consonant words, such as “cat” or “mop”. You can also start by pointing out simple sight words such as “I” “a” and “to.” As your child is learning letters and sounds, continue to read to your child above their reading level to expose them to more complex vocabulary and story lines. 

Each child will read in their own time and develop a natural interest in books. The earliest readers don’t make the best readers!


This article has been reviewed by our team of experts.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.