Reading Readiness: Top Skills For Kids To Master

by | Dec 1, 2020 | Core Skills

Every day you watch your child get a little bit more capable and a little bit more interested in exploring reading. But you may find yourself wondering whether or not it’s the “right” time to begin working on reading readiness.

We’re here to explain what reading readiness is and let you know what to look for and how you can help your child get excited about their reading journey!

What Is Reading Readiness?

Family preparing kids for reading readiness

Reading readiness is defined by two unique parts.

First, reading readiness refers to the stage of development when your child is ready to begin learning how to read. This stage will come at different times for different kids.

Your child may be ready to learn to read by age four or five. It’s just as likely that they’ll take a bit longer and feel ready around age six or seven. There’s no rush!

The second part of reading readiness involves the time it takes someone to evolve from a non-reader to a reader. Think of it as how long it takes your child to get from point A (learning about texts and books for the first time) to point B (reading fluently on their own).

Measuring your child’s reading readiness is not meant to be a race. The length of time it takes them to graduate from a non-reader to a reader isn’t scored.

It’s only a matter of understanding their level of readiness so you can help them on their way!

Reading Readiness Vs. Emergent Literacy

You may hear reading readiness linked with emergent literacy. Although they’re not quite the same thing, there is a bit of overlap and the two terms are not mutually exclusive.

While reading readiness focuses on specific pre-reading skills, emergent literacy is what we think of as a child’s increasing interest in learning about letters, books, and words. You usually won’t have one without the other!

Additionally, reading readiness encompasses more than just pre-reading literacy skills. It includes emotional, physical, and cognitive development as well. It’s a holistic consideration of your child’s preparedness for a lifelong love of reading!

Mom and daughter reading in a living room tent

Why Is Reading Readiness Important?

Early exposure to reading is highly correlated with a child’s ability to read well in the future. By forming early experiences with books and positive feelings (that’s where you come in!), your child may discover a love of reading.

Beyond forming a positive relationship with reading, reading readiness also advances social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

You can see those skills develop when children learn:

  • How to share and take turns while reading
  • To understand their role in the world and how stories might relate to them
  • How to support their bodies when reading
  • To refine fine motor skills used in writing and page-turning
  • How to distinguish between letters, shapes, and sounds

Reading readiness is about reading, but it’s also about so much more! That’s what makes it an important part of your child’s learning adventure.

Dad helping child with reading readiness

Indicators Of Reading Readiness

These six indicators will help you determine the extent of your child’s reading readiness.

A Desire To Read

Your child is interested in listening to stories and books. They may ask you to read to them at any point in the day, whether it’s a book, a sign, or a poster they saw on the street.

They may also make up stories of their own or enthusiastically recount the events of a school day during dinner.

While reading together, they may want to take turns with you and pretend to read a page. They may also memorize the favorite parts of different stories and “read” them with you.

Print And Book Awareness

Print and book awareness deals with a child’s knowledge of handling written text and books. Markers of print and book awareness include a few different elements.

Your child will understand how to hold books and how to turn pages from right to left. They’ll also understand that when reading, the text moves left to right and top to bottom.

They begin to notice that words are separated by spaces, which helps readers understand the beginning and end of a word. They may also notice that there are special symbols on the page: periods, exclamation points, and question marks.

Your child will also understand that text has meaning. Written words have a decipherable pattern that they can learn to read. They can also use clues, like pictures, to understand sentences in a book.

Ideally, your child will also notice print in their environment and might be curious about what these things say.

Ability To Play With Rhyme

To play around with words, your child’s phonics skills should be developed enough to support rhyme and word games.

You can gauge your child’s readiness with this component by playing with them. Singing songs together, playing around with funny rhyme games, and working on their ABCs are all great!

Young girl reading with her grandfather

A Firm Grasp On Letter-Sound Correspondence

The relationship between letters and sounds is one your child should be familiar with before launching into the next steps of learning to read. This relationship is what we call letter-sound correspondence.

They will understand that written letters have a matching sound, even if they can’t accurately match them all the time (don’t worry, they’ll get there!). They at least understand the concept of the letter “k,” for example, having an associated sound.

Ability To Retell Stories

After hearing someone tell a story or read a book, your child can talk about the events that happened in the story. They may pinpoint specific characters, feelings, or places — this will give you some insight into which details stuck out to them the most.

Your child might also talk about something they overheard from a classmate or summarize a book they read earlier that day with their teacher.

However it manifests, retelling stories is a great habit for your child to develop and will prepare them for the next step of their reading journey!

Repeating What You Read To Them

Similar to retelling stories, your child will understand how to echo what you read to them. This is an especially effective skill when your child tries to learn new vocabulary.

As your child’s reading readiness skills continue to grow, you can encourage them to echo short sentences back to you. Longer, advanced sentences may be too difficult for them to complete at this point. Keep it simple!

Writing Or Reading Their Name

One of the most exciting skills your child will learn early on in their reading readiness is how to read and write their own name. They’ll be so proud of themselves (and will probably want to write it on everything they own)!

Your child will be able to recognize their name when they read or spot it on an item, like a sheet of paper or a lunch box. They have an idea of how to properly write it as well and can identify at least a couple of correct letters that belong in their name.

For example, if your child’s name is Vivian, they may write out “Vvn” the first few times they give it a go. This is amazing progress! They can identify certain sounds and apply that knowledge to writing their name.

They may also try to write letters in other people’s names or scribble out stories to share their ideas. All of these things demonstrate a developing sense of letter recognition, as well as reading readiness.

Dad with daughters helping with reading readiness

Tips For Engaging Reading Readiness

Keep Pressure Low And Encouragement High

Let your child guide you through their learning journey. Don’t be afraid to let them be the captain of their own ship.

Nurturing an interest in reading is a marathon, not a sprint. It may not happen overnight, and that’s OK! The best way to make reading fun and enticing for your child is by keeping stress levels down.

Cherish your reading time together!

Practice Rhyming

Rhyming engages your child’s phonological awareness, an essential skill under the umbrella of their reading readiness. Plus, we could always use another excuse to have a family-friendly sing-a-long!

Read Aloud To Your Child

Reading aloud to your child is the single most important thing you can do to encourage them to want to read by themselves. It helps them stay engaged, hear what fluent reading sounds like, and understand that reading is fun!

Reading aloud doesn’t always have to happen before bed, either. You can read aloud to your child at any time of the day. The more they hear you read, the more they’ll want to learn how to do it themselves!

This can encourage independence, curiosity, and self-reliance. Not to mention, it’s essential to your child’s reading readiness!

Reread Books Together

Rereading books gives your child a sense of ownership over a book, and rereading favorites will forge a deeper connection between your child and reading and encourage a love of stories.

Rereading is also helpful with the mechanics of reading. Multiple visits to the same book will likely lead your child to pretend to read sections of the book. They may even memorize entire stories, so long as they are short and sweet.

Both of these steps are critical to developing their reading readiness. Before you know it, they’ll be cuddled up on the couch, reading away!

Building Reading Readiness For A Bright Future

Mom reading to daughter whose holding a teddy bear

There’s no such thing as a “right” way to teach reading. While there are certainly some core concepts to stick to, the power of your child’s reading adventure comes when you both figure out what works best for them.

If you ever find yourself wanting to change up your routine, look no further than the HOMER Learn & Grow app. It’s thoughtfully designed with your child’s specific interests and needs in mind.

Jam-packed with activities and lessons, our app will help your child get reading ready and prepared for a bright future in no time!

And don’t just take our word for it, read what Honest Brand Reviews has to say about HOMER.


  • Begin Learning Team

    Parents hear so much noise about what matters–it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in. We are early learning experts & PhDs helping you focus on what matters most for your child.

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Begin Learning Team
Begin Learning Team

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Parents hear so much noise about what matters–it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in. We are early learning experts & PhDs helping you focus on what matters most for your child.