When is Your Child Ready to Learn to Read?

Mother and daughter reading together happily

Recognizing when your child is ready to start reading can be an exciting and important milestone. Keep in mind that children develop at different rates, so it’s essential to look for a combination of signs rather than expecting all of them to be present at once. Here are some common signs that your child may be ready to read:

  1. Interest in books: If your child shows a genuine interest in books and enjoys looking at them or being read to, it’s a positive sign. They may ask you to read the same book repeatedly or engage in pretend reading.
  2. Recognizing letters: When your child starts to recognize and name letters of the alphabet, it’s a good indication that they are making progress toward reading readiness.
  3. Phonemic awareness: Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate individual sounds in words. If your child can identify rhyming words, break words into syllables, or recognize the initial sounds of words, this is a crucial step toward reading.
  4. Print awareness: Children who are ready to read often show an understanding of how print works. They may point to words as you read them, follow the text from left to right, and understand that words have meaning.
  5. Storytelling: If your child can retell or create simple stories with a beginning, middle, and end, this demonstrates an understanding of narrative structure, which is important for comprehension skills.
  6. Fine motor skills: Good fine motor skills, such as the ability to hold a pencil or crayon and draw, can be an indicator of readiness for writing and, subsequently, reading.
  7. Curiosity and questions: A child’s curiosity about the world and their willingness to ask questions about how things work or what words mean shows a desire to learn and understand, which is fundamental for reading.
  8. Letter recognition and writing: When your child starts trying to write letters or their name, it’s a sign of growing interest in letters and words.
  9. Word and language play: If your child enjoys word games, such as rhyming or making up silly words, it’s a sign of a budding interest in language and reading.
  10. Memorization and repetition: Children often enjoy memorizing favorite books or songs, and they may start reciting them from memory.

Remember that reading readiness varies from child to child, and it’s important not to rush the process. Encourage their interest in books, engage in activities that promote language and literacy development, and provide a supportive and positive reading environment. If you have concerns about your child’s readiness to read, consider talking to a teacher or pediatrician for guidance and recommendations.

We Can Books is a great way to help teach your child to read when they are ready, as our combination of familiar images and rhyming phonics word sets is fun and engaging.

The Gift of Reading

One of my earliest memories of joy is waiting for my dad to get home from work every evening so we could sit together, and he could teach me how to read.

I remember the excitement I felt, nestled in his lap in the big chair in our living room, as he showed me how letters and sounds came together to make words. It felt like a puzzle I could learn to put together. Small pieces joining to make bigger pieces that formed something real. And once I understood how the small pieces—the letters—worked, I could start to understand how to put them together. And I could READ WORDS.

My four-year-old brain felt like it was exploding with connections. Nothing was more fun. It seemed like we were cracking codes together. And every night I understood just a little more and was that much closer to being able to crack those codes on my own.

C – A – T



If I could read that word on the page, I could read it anywhere. Anywhere! I could read it in other books, on signs, in the red letters of the marquee above the little theatre we drove past to come home. I could read it on cereal boxes and newspapers. I could read and recognize it and understand it all by myself.

The sense of freedom and excitement was dizzying. And the more I began to be able to make sense of the sounds of the letters and the words they could form, the more I wanted to read.

The world was opening to me. And I could feel it. 

I don’t remember how long it took for me to be able to master the basic sounds and combinations of letters that make the building blocks of reading. I just remember how fun it was, and that I looked forward to that time with my Dad every night.

I also remember thinking that reading was fun and easy, and when I started going to school, learning felt fun and easy too.

Learning to read early and well gave me a head start not just in school, but in life. It was possibly the greatest gift my parents could give me because it made so many important things possible.

The difference between kids who think reading is easy and fun, and who think it’s hard and boring—the kids who do well in school vs. the kids who struggle—is often the beginning of a difference that persists all their lives.

If you can read well, you have access to success in every other subject in school.

If you feel successful in school, you feel smart and competent. If you don’t, you are likely to feel like a failure. This simple but huge difference has a lasting impact on self-esteem. Self-esteem has a powerful effect on every action in life. 

There are more tragic outcomes for kids who have difficulty reading, but I’ll save that subject for another post.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this when I sat in my father’s lap after dinner and traced the letters with my little fingers, sounding out words and solving the puzzles using phonics. Starting with three letter words and moving to four letter words, putting together the building blocks of vowels and consonants, until I could make sense of just about any word I ran across, anywhere.

I learned to love reading, and to associate it with happiness and accomplishment. This love of reading has served me all my life. I feel so fortunate to have been given that incredible head start. Learning to read early and well was like being given the keys to life.

We Can Books is here to spread that joy and to help give all children the keys to a happy, successful life. There may be no greater gift you can give a child than the gift of reading. And with it, you can create special moments and memories that last a lifetime.