Family reading

You need to read to learn to read!


Reading introduces the opportunities of life and gives solution models, faith and hope to the challenges of life. Through reading a child absorbs colourful language, which in turn widens the spectrum of thoughts. Versatile inner world helps the child in school and later on in work life.

Studies show that reflective, poundering reading where the text is processed and discussed leads to better understanding of the text. Reading is not about the right pronaunciation but about understanding the meaning of what is read! It requires a lot of practice – the scoolwork alone is not enough.

In worst case life without reading can lead to marginalization. Participating in society requires good reading skills.


Research shows that home background is crucial for the developement of reading in school.


Stories and fairytales offer a safe space for small children to investigate their own feelings and fears. Social skills, imagination and empathy are reinforced. Children who are frequently read to have a more developed sense of righteousness and they work better in groups.

Reading out loud for a child is clearly connected to school success and positive attitude towards school and learning in general. According to a reading study, 83 % of the children who were daily read to enjoyed going to school. Of the children who were rarely read to only 43 % did so. This is important, because we know that many of our youngsters are in danger of exhaustion and dropping out.

Together home, school and library offer possibilities to develope children’s reading. For the skills to develope, active and diverse reading is needed. The reading habits built in the childhood have a crucial impact on the habits as a youngster and an adult. A reading child most likely becomes a reading adult. For the future success in life it is more significant how much the child has been read to than what the sosioeconomical status of the family or the parents’ educational level is.


A book conversation makes the book relevant precisely for your child!


A grown-up co-reader will find the discussion topics essential for the child. How do we do things in our family and how do we think of the world? The text in unveiled and made relevant for your family’s situation. How do other people live? What does the world look like outside our family?

Reading at home strenghtens the family bonds. Processing the text helps the child to understand, interprete and experience the book as a whole. The dialogue aroused by the book will develope thinking and language skills. The interaction of text and pictures will become familiar. The child will learn to discuss and express his or her own opinions.

A grown-up reader can connect occasions in the book to real-life situations and memories and go through even deep existential questions with the child. The book and the conversation will help the child to take other persons’ perspectives and thus develope empathy. It is the beginning of learning in many ways.

Discussion raises a natural interest for books. Deep reading brings out moods and emotions and everything that is unsaid, hidden in between the lines.


Children won’t start reading unless they have reading role models.


The importance of home in children’s developement in reading is growing. A recent Pirls study shows that, in addition to the sosio-economical status of the family, the parens’ reading habits and attitudes towards books have a significant impact on the reading skills of forth-graders. The first step to get the children to read is to read yourself! Your support and the time spent in reading will reflect straight on the skills of the children.



A one-year-old finds books through pictures and close to the reader.


In the world of a one-year-old there is a lot going on. The child can conquer the world and move around. It is important to have hard-covered books at hand, books that can take hits. The child will experience books with all senses.

It is already time to create the habit of reading and show the child how to read. Always take the child to your laps when he brings you a book. Make it a moment of connecting and beeing present. Talk about the pictures! Make comparisons: when the child points at a picture of an apple, show him the apple in your fruit bowl.

The first times the child might not concentrate on the book for long, but be patient and in time the interest will grow! Allure and invite the child to discuss the cover picture. Read stories with repeating patterns, nursery rhymes and poems. For small children repetition means recognition and security while learning. Rhythm, rhymes and repeating are interesting. The adult as a reader gives names, describes and compares.


A two-year-old enjoys nursery rhymes.


A two-year-old has already gotten to know books. Books are for reading! The child will recognice familiar books by the cover. He will pretend that he is reading the books that he has often heard. It is an important step on the way to independent reading. The child likes reading routines and already knows how the books are to be handeled. He enjoys playing with voices, and names interesting things in books.

Start a discussion when the child names something in a picture. ”Really nice! It is an apple, but of what colour? A green apple! Good! Look’s delicious.” Learning language is boosted by the fortifying dialogue, in interaction with the adult reader. Focusing together on the same thing creates a safe feeling. Your presence slowly improves the capasity to concentrate.

You can read any time of the day but a bedtime story is a must. When the routine of reading a bedtime story every night is fixed, the nights and falling asleep will become a pleasant and relaxing moment.


A three-year-old needs to learn ten new words every day.


The interaction with a book and an enthusiastic adult is the beginning of growing to a reading and writing person. The child learns the purpose of a book, and the attitudes of family members will be transmitted.

The child has learned what the back and the cover of the book are, how to turn pages carefully, what texts and pictures are, and that pictures are symbols of real things. He can now comment on the characters of the books.

Stories with repetition and rhymes, childrens poetry and common-day stories are usually popular at this age. Because books are a part of every-day life, the developement of reading accelerates and goes on non-stop.


A four-year-old is already able to enjoy book conversations.


A four-year-old can already enjoy the content of a book and show great interest in books and reading. The child absorbs new knowledge, can pounder ethical questions, gets to know different environments, sees different relations and gets words to describe his feelings.

The child notices that written and spoken language differ from each other. Grammar of the language clears when it is read out loud. Vocabulary starts to grow markedly. After reaching the age of two the child is opt to learn ten new words every day. It is already possible to read children’s books that are not entirely picture-based.

The child will notice how a story is built. There is an interesting start, a dramatic half-way and an ending. The child can bind together the occasions in the book and in real life.


A five-year-old listens to easy books not entirely based on pictures.


A five-year-old fully enjoys children’s literature. Picture books are still above others. The child may already have favourite books, that he wants to hear often.

A book talk can start by just looking at a book. What do you know of a new book without reading it? Can you guess the content? What does the cover tell you? How many pages are there? Does the front page anticipate the story?

Now we will affect the child’s attitude towards learning. When reading out loud, the grown-up reader along with the book itself is modelling how to reach a comprehension of the text.

Reading is a good way to have positive interaction to support learning languages. Sharing the reading experience is a wonderful way of being together! The child feels that the reader loves him and wants to spend time with him. Be playful and open! Enjoy and have fun! Talk about the places, time perspective, people, relations.

There are also fine illustrated nonfiction books for children with exiting subjects. Science, animals, technology, dinosaurs etc. can capture the interest of many children willing to learn.


Fairytales, picture books, nonfiction books, poetry, nursery rhymes in preschool and at home.


Getting redy for starting school! A six-year-old has already heard an endless amount of books. It can be calculated that 3000 books and stories before starting school will guarantee a smooth start. In early childhood it means three books per day, for example one familiar book, one new book and the child’s favourite book.

The child already recognices capital and lowercase letters and some whole words in the text. He uses new words and grammatic structures and finds rhyming words. He listens carefully when books are read in the preschool group and can answer questions about the story. He can anticipate the story on the basis of the illustration. Discuss the things seen in the pictures but not mentioned in the text!

Give the child a good place to read. Does the bed have a reading light? A small own bookshelf helps the child to know his own reading history. I have already read these books, this was a christmas present from grandpa, this I haven’t had time to start yet, these I lended from the library last time…


A seven-year-old needs encouragement and praise! Show your interest in the newly opened world!


The school starts. It is exiting time and requires parents’ participation. Now the child learns to read himself. The motivation to become a reader comes from all the stories the child has heard so far. Concentration has been practiced every day. Now it is important to carry on reading at home, so the child’s joy won’t disappear even though his own reading might not yet be fluent.

Celebrate with the family when the child finnishes his first short book! It is a milestone in child’s life.

Children’s books with longer texts and more advanced action should now step in to the family’s reading routines. In the reading situation you can make a summary of what previously happened and also imagine what will happen next. How will the book end?

Keep at hand easy reading books, picture books, a longer book to be read together every night and a nonfictional book of whatever the child is interested in.


Ages 8-9 the books for beginners start to feel too easy


At this age every day is a reading day. Come to the library often with your child! Let the child choose books but do it also yourself to get the picture of the vastness of the selection. In the library there are beginner’s books of different difficulty levels. Remember, that the books should offer the child’s mind something to chew and gradually become more challenging.

Lend books, that the child can read himself! Lend long books – a couple of chapters every night. Lend comics, lend children’s poetry, lend high-quality picture books that are works of art, and lend non-fiction that explains the world. Ask your child why he chose a certain book. What captured his interest?

Ask your child to tell about the plot after reading a book. Don’t interrogate! Show that you are interested in his reading hobby! You can ask if the book was as he expected when lending it, or you can think about what might happen after the book ended or what could have happened before the start.


Ages 10–11 Do everything you can to create a bookworm!


Big differences in reading motivation are seen in classrooms at this age. Schoolwork becomes more demanding and it includes longer and longer texts. Mechanical reading is for some children already fluent and fast, so they can read many books a week just for fun. At this time of life the child’s consciousness and language develope rapidly.

Then again for some children reading can be difficult. It’s important to keep on reading out loud at home to keep the motivation for reading high even as the school texts become more difficult.


Ages 12–13 Teen life, hobbies and friends


A soon-to-be teenager can get courage, strenght and joy of books that describe the life of a teenager. Identification is strong, and it is easy to recognize oneself among the charachters.

Children’s books start to feel too childish regarding both the stories and the language. The age limits for books for children, youngsters and young adults are hard to define, but back cover texts and appearences of books can help in choosing the right ones. Exciting or humorous youngster books and nonfictional books – maybe about the changes in one’s body, about hobbies or idols etc. – can work now.

If the teenager is having a hard time, the parents can bring him books from the library. Bring at least seven! Put them aside the bed and check that the reading light is working. The teen propably goes through the pile some night. Change the books after a month! You need to be persistant, don’t give up!


Ages 14–15 Let your teen know the importance of literacy


The time used in reading by youngsters has dropped down to almost half of what it was 20 years ago. Phones and Internet have undoubtedly had an effect on reading.

It is important to talk about the books that have been important to you. Explain why you need good literacy in your job and as an active participant of society.

There is a danger that poor literacy restricts the youngster’s life, makes studying and working harder. Literacy means mechanical reading skills, understanding ever more complex texts and handling scattered information. When youngsters master their mother tongue it is also easier to learn foreign languages.

Literacy helps us to find the words for our feelings and improves self-knowledge and self-assurance. The ability to express oneself helps in various social situations. Literacy provides us the tools for expression both through speaking and writing. Language and thoughts go hand in hand.

Young adults’ books are now meaningful. They deal with subjects that teenagers find interesting, and do not avoid crises or problems.


Ages 16–17 Improving literacy needs patient deep-reading


Deep reading activates brain differently than for example superficial glancing over headlines on the Internet. It is shown that adults that read a lot have vast areas of the brain activated especially when reading long narrative texts. Youngsters actively reading literature have the best results in other school subjects as well.

At home you can talk about books on many different levels. What occasion in the book do you think was the most important? Was there a turning point in the story line? When did you guess how the book was going to end? Do you resemble the main character in any way? How? Would you like to be the main character’s friend? Have you read this sort of books before? Was there some character you would like to know more about? What would happen if…?

Sometimes the youngster might not want to share the book with you. Accept it, but try again another time or after another book! Tell your teenager about the book you are reading at the moment! There must be something that he finds interesting and you are the one most likely to know what it is! At this age some adult’s books come in to a youngsters’ world. The line is not strickt and it depends on the individual’s interests and maturity.


The process of becoming a life-long reader takes time and effort! You as a parent are absolutely the best help for your child. Go through the trouble to be present at all times, and you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your child profoundly!


Reading is cool and smart!

The libraries have books and materials for the whole family!

The personnel is there to help you!

Lending is free!

Welcome to the library!


Agneta Möller-Salmela

Reading inspirator



All studies show that children’s home background concerning reading is crucial to the development of reading skills as the schoool starts.

To become a reader is a long process during childhood and youth. Every step is important and parents are needed in the process daily! Children won’t start reading unless they have reading rolemodels. One has to read in order to know how to read! A conversation about a book makes the book meaningful to your child!