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Reading, Literacy and Your Child

What is literacy?
Literacy means being able to read and write. 

Why is reading important?
A child's reading skills are important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.  Reading and writing are important ways we use language to communicate.

How do reading and language skills develop?
For an answer to this question, check out the following link:

Research has identified five early reading skills that are all essential.  They are [1]:

How can we make reading part of our family’s lifestyle?
Parents play a critical role in helping their children develop not only the ability to read, but also an enjoyment of reading.

There are many ways to include reading in your child's life, starting in babyhood, and continuing through the teen years.  Focus on literacy activities that your child enjoys, so that reading is a treat, not a chore.

How do you read to a baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends daily reading to children beginning by six months of age.

Where can I get ideas and resources for fun reading and literacy activities?

What if my child is having trouble with reading?
Some children have difficulty learning to read.  You may hear from a teacher that your child has difficulty with language, or you may have noticed some difficulties that your child has. When reading and language difficulties are identified, special teaching can be given to help your child reach their full potential.  Here are some resources:

If you have questions about your child's ability to use language or read, please ask your pediatrician or school system to check that part of your child's learning.

What about parents who have trouble reading?  
Just as some kids have trouble reading, some adults do, too—or may have never learned to read at all.  In fact, one in five adults has real trouble reading.

Is there an adult or family literacy program near me?
There are many places for adults to find help. If you or a parent you know needs to learn to read better, here's how to find a nearby literacy program:

Where can I find other resources related to kids and reading?


Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, RN.  Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan

Updated October 2010


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U-M Health System Related Sites and Services:
U-M Pediatrics
Reach Out and Read of the University of Michigan

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