top of page

Helping with reading

Reading can e hard to learn, whether you are four years old or forty. When kids are learning to read, the following are ways to help them.

The four R’s : Regular, Revise, Relax, Reward


Regular: A little, every day
When kids are learning to read it is easy to forget what they have learned if it isn’t reinforced the next day.  

Go for ‘little' and 'often.’
Go back over at least some of yesterday’s work before you move on to anything new.
Tempt but don’t force. If your child doesn’t want to read then you have the wrong book..or the wrong time (ie when they really need some time out to themselves or a game with a friend).
Kids can get to a stage where they can read to themselves, which is faster and more fun than reading aloud. Just be there if they need to ask.
The work is its own reward.
 Don’t promise bicycles or  an extra hour of tv in exchange for success. Give praise, not rewards, except for the rewards that come with reading: book, and more books, visits to the library, subscriptions to their favourite magazines. Let them browse in the newsagent - with supervsion - to find one they like.


A Step by Step Guide

Step 1. Read the first paragraph or even the first page to the child, so they get the feel of the story and know difficult words like ‘ volcano’ and character’s names. Then: 

Step 2. Ask the child to read a setenece. If this works, ask the child to keep on reading. If they needed t be prompted more than once, keep reading alternat seences together, so  the story progresses fast enough to be fun

Step 3. Help, don’t tell. If  your child doesn’t know a word:

  • encourage them to sound it out

  • if they can’t sound it out, begin to sound it out for them.

  • stop after the first sound, and see if they can go on from there. Then add another sound ... and another…

  • if you have to make every sound for them, still wait for them to put all the sounds together.

Step 4. Encourage. Every time they work out a hard word, congratulate them. Make a list of praise phrases, and use them often. But be sincere, be honest and be reasonable. Don’t say ‘you are the brightest kid in the class’ unless you have verified evidence that it is so. The exception to this is any over the top phrase. ‘You re the most brilliant reader in the entire universe’ is okay, as is ‘you read faster than a velociraptor can run.’

You can’t read if you don’t have book


Many kids with reading problems in schools have no access to books at home. Kids need to go home with a book. And yes, in some homes, books will vanish or be damaged. Better a damaged book than a more damaged kid.

Entrancing ‘learn to read’ books for all ages
Learning to read  will be boring if kids are given boring things to read - and too often they are.

Reading material needs to be so fascinating that your child will focus utterly on working out what comes next.
Each kid needs the books they are fascinated with.  I’ve tried to do this with several of my series for young people, but there are many many other superb books.

Many authors - of whom I’m one - have deliberately written books to entrance beginner readers. But often the magic book will be a difficult one, not an easy one. Nor is it easy to know at first what kind of books a child will like, so ASK.

Kids may be too embarrassed to say ‘I’m bored with this book. They may even think that books are really boring. Ask : is this book fun? ‘no’ offer others.

Learn to read books for littlies

Anything by Dr Seuss
Andrea Potter’s ‘ten word books’ to read these first five ebooks, you only have to read ten words.

The Cat on the Mat is Flat  by Andy Griffith and Terry Denton
 Where is the Green Sheep Mem Fox’s with Judy Horacek
The Terrible Suitcase by Emma Allen and Freya Blackwood, Scholastic, $19.99, 9781862919624.
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian and Anne James

Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton, HarperCollins, $14.99, 9780007284542.
Feather’s for Phoebe Rod Clement
Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay
Goodnight, Mice! Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson
The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box Frances Watson, illustrated by David Legge
I Got this Hat Jol and Kate Temple, illustrated by Jon Foye

Pictute books for 5-8
The Pros a and cons of Being a Frog by Sue Degenarro
Too many Elephants in this House by Ursula Dubosarky illustrated by Andrew Joyner



Books for 5-10 year olds
Theb Selby and Emily Eyefinger books by
The Tashi sries by Anna and Barbnara feinberg
The 26 Storey Tree House by Andy Griffiths and terry Denton
The wacky Family Series by jacki French


The non Fiction 
The DK  seties on everything from trucks to cars to moror bikes 
The Women’s Weekly Cooking Guides (Complete with many glossy pictures)
Any good guide to frogs, snakes, volcanos etc, not necessarily for children. These usually have large pics and little text
    A joke book

Cartoons and Graphic Novels
These usually have minmal text but lots of illustration to show hat’s happening.
Footrot Flats by Murray Ball
Asteroix the Gaul by Gozinni an underzo
Tin Tin  by


Eric by Shaun tan
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Warning: nightmare potetail)
 Footroot Flats (a new Zeland comic strip) by
Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton

bottom of page