Books, Books, Books
"Children truly learn to read when they are ready," adds Stone-Libon. "And in the long run there should be no difference in the abilities of an early reader and an average reader. Early readers do not have better comprehension than others."
As soon as possible the distinction should be made between books and toys. While toys are intended for play, books should be treasured and treated gently. "Children should learn how to handle books with care," says Dr. Friedberg. "It is wise to discourage children from cutting or scribbling in them. Remind the kids that if they ruin a book, the story will no longer be available to read and enjoy again. As an alternative offer old magazines or catalogues to cut."
Helping preschoolers create their own books is another way to develop pre-reading skills. Dr. Friedberg suggests, "Make it a family project. Have the child dictate a story and then illustrate it. Seeing their own words on a printed page makes them more meaningful. As they go back over the finished product they should even be able to figure out what some of those words are. It is just one more way to begin to unlock the secrets of reading."
"There's no great mystery to teaching children how to read," says Stone-Libon. "Reading to them one-on-one outweighs everything else. Begin as early as possible and read, read, read."