How to Prepare Your Preschooler for Reading Success

If you have a preschooler, you may be starting to think about how to help your child succeed in school. Reading aloud is always a great place to start. You can get a lot of mileage out of well-chosen books.Today I’m sharing five kinds of books you can read aloud to your preschooler. The variety can help them develop skills for success in school as well as a love of reading.


Reading & Preschoolers | 5 Kinds of books you can read aloud to your preschooler that will help them be successful in school
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Books you Both Love

The most important kind of books to read with your child are books you both love. If you enjoy what you read, you’ll want more. And more is good.


Plus, you want your child to develop positive associations with reading. Feeling good about reading will help motivate him to learn to read.


Stories That Are Complicated in Some Way

Why would you want to read complicated stories to a little kid? For one, kids love complicated stories. Equally important, there’s a ton of learning to be had from them.


When you read aloud and get to a hard word or concept, and discuss it with your child. Point out critical details in the pictures. Stop to ask leading questions that step along to understanding.


What stories for preschoolers are complicated? Anything with a twist in point of view, like Badger’s Fancy Meal or Blueberries for Sal is complicated. Stories with unfamiliar settings may be “complicated.” So can books with a tricky play on words, such as Mother Mother I Want Another (affiliates).


If your child has asked you to read a story over and over and over, consider that it may be complicated. Because one of the big reasons kids ask for a book on repeat is that there’s something they don’t get about it. So the story captivates them, yet also confuses them just a little.



Reading Nonfiction

The new state standards have a stronger emphasis on nonfiction reading. To be successful in school, students need to be able to read and understand this genre. You can begin in preschool with reading aloud age-appropriate simple nonfiction books on whatever subject interests your child.


While you read, point out some of the unique features of nonfiction. For instance, if there’s a caption under a picture, point at the words as you read. Read the sidebars, again pointing with your finger. Your goal is for them to pick up on the fact that information in nonfiction books comes from all
around the page
. (I taught fifth graders who still struggled with this – they’d just forget to look anywhere but the main body of text.)



Early Readers

No, “Early Readers” aren’t kids who are reading at age three.


Early readers (also called Easy Readers) are books meant for children who’re just getting started reading. They have simple words, short sentences, and pictures on every page. Often, there’s a lot of repetition. Books like Green Eggs and HamAre You My Mother, Pete the Cat, and the Biscuit books are all early readers.


So if Early Readers are meant for kids to read, why would you read them aloud? Once your child is at the stage of memorizing stories and “reading” them back to you (an adorable stage, I might add!), having easy-to-read books around helps them make the leap from pretending to actually recognizing early sight words.


Books With Challenging Vocabulary & Concepts

Don’t shy away from books that have more advanced vocabulary and concepts. Fairy tales, more advanced nonfiction, and chapter books are all fair game. You may have to explain more, but if your child is interested, go for it!


You’ll be expanding your child’s vocabulary and background knowledge, and those two things will have a huge impact on their success in school.


The foundation of reading comprehension is being able to mentally file and organize the bits of information in a story or passage. That’s much easier to do with a familiar topic than an unfamiliar one.


So reading widely does two things. One, it makes a wider variety of topics familiar. Two, it gets kids used to being introduced to new topics. If you’re right there with them keeping them from feeling too lost, they’ll develop confidence in navigating unfamiliar topics.


More About Helping Your Child Be a Successful Reader

If you’re looking for even more information on how to help your child succeed in school, you may like to read about the early steps they need to take before they’ll be ready to read.

I’ve teamed up with Karen from Raising Little Superheroes to give you more information about pre-reading skills. Karen is a former kindergarten teacher, so she knows a lot about what kids need to be successful in learning to read.


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Reading & Preschoolers | 5 Kinds of books you can read aloud to your preschooler that will help them be successful in school



  1. Nice tips. We always love to push the kids. I once worked with the a teacher who took away a book from a child and said it was to hard. I know the child, and she understood the book. I was mortified. The only way to learn is to be challenged.

    1. Wow. I can't imagine taking a book away just because it's too hard! I like challenging kids in a way that they enjoy, even relish, the challenge. Sometimes it's tricky to find the right level of support they need or don't need.

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