Reading, Tips

Teaching Kids the Alphabet

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It’s never too early to teach your child the alphabet. We started when D was 1! Even though progress was slow, we kept at it. Now, over a year later, D can recognize all of the uppercase letters of the alphabet. Whatever your child’s age, here are some tips for getting started:

Read with your kids. Read all kinds of books, but alphabet books can be especially helpful. Some of our favorites are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Hooper Humperdink..? Not Him, and My Foodie ABC. I also love Greg Paprocki’s illustrated historical ABC books.

Songs. Besides the traditional ABC song, there are a lot of other versions out there! Whether “Cookie Starts with C” or Usher’s ABC remix, you are sure to find something your kid will like to sing.

Reinforce one letter at a time. The first letter our son identified was the letter O. So we made an effort to point out all the different O’s we saw throughout the day. This was an especially easy letter, since it came up a lot through shapes.

Physical versions of letters. Help your kids learn the alphabet kinesthetically through alphabet magnets or blocks! Since it’s back to school season, I’ve noticed that letter and number magnets are a easier to find. We picked up a lowercased set at Target last week in their dollar section.

Letter games. We have a letter and number monster that can eat our plastic alphabet magnets after our son identifies each one. We also have rounded up a lot of fun letter games on our Pinterest board here.

Tracing/writing letters. Whether you’re using a plain piece of paper or a book where your child can follow the lines, it helps to learn your ABC’s by drawing them. We picked up this awesome Write-On, Wipe-Off ABC book at the Dollar Tree. Usborne also sells wipe-clean books that come with a dry erase marker.

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Favorite Books, Reading

Teaching Kids to Love Books

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Not to brag, but my son loves books. He may not be able to read them yet, but he loves them. While I realize that some children are more naturally drawn to books than others, I’d like to offer some tips of ways to teach your kids to love books.

Read to Them

Schedule a time to read to your children at least once a day. Make it part of your routine! Like many other summer reading challenges, I encourage you to read 30 minutes a day to your kids! I know attention spans can be short, so consider breaking up the reading times. In our schedule, we read after breakfast, before our son’s nap, and before bedtime. This means we only have to do 10 minutes at a time, although often it goes longer than that. And once your child learns how to read, don’t stop reading to them! My mom would often read to us even in our teens, just to get us hooked on a book she knew we would love. Often she would tell us, “I’ll just read the first two chapters, and if you don’t like it, we can return it.” Inevitably she would finish reading and we would fight over who would get the book next so we could finish it.

Go to the Library Often

I recommend going to the library once a week. I remember as a child we would go to the library and load up on books for the week. It’s the best way to be able to cycle through books so you can keep your child engaged in reading. Be sure to let your kids help pick some of the books they will read that week. Sure, you may end up with some books that you don’t like as much, but you may end up finding some treasures. (Stay tuned for next week when I discuss “Ways to Find Books Your Children Will Love”). If it’s hard to make time for the library, I highly encourage reserving books online and making use of library book drop-offs. This means you only have to make a 5-10 minute trip to the library to drop off past books and pick up the books you have on hold.

Attend Story Time

I am constantly learning how to be a more engaging reader through our library’s story time. Each librarian has their own way of adding expression and voice to the book they are reading. Often this encourages children to be more engaged in the books. I’ve learned how to look for places in books where I can engage my son in the story (making animal noises, pointing out different details in pictures, saying a repetitive phrase). Kids love to feel involved, especially when they can’t read on their own yet.

Reorganize Your Books

This is a tip I got from a friend, who wrote a beautiful blog post on how she decided to organize her books. I’ll just include this quote about the results: “Though I didn’t add a single new book during this clean-up process, it was as if my kids were seeing them all anew. They spent the rest of the day exclaiming over books they thought were lost and enjoying entire collections or author groups.”

Get New Books

There’s just something exciting about getting a new book. The book lover that I am would much rather my son get a new book as a gift than a new toy to junk up our house. Because of this, we have a separate Amazon Wishlist just of children’s books. If you can’t afford to buy new books all the time, consider shopping at your library’s book sales. We found some great classics at our local library sale this year.

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Library Book Sale Haul

You can also see if your area is part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, where your child can receive a free, age-appropriate book once a month from the time they are born until they are 5!

Happy Reading!

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