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  • Writer's pictureJanay Neufeld

The 5 Most Important Reading Readiness Skills + a FREE Pre Reading Skills Checklist Pdf

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Click the long blue button below to download your FREE Pre Reading Skills Checklist Pdf

Are you wondering what reading readiness skills your child must know before starting school? What pre-reading activities to do with your child? Or where the heck even to begin on the journey of teaching them to read? It can feel overwhelming and foreign.

Sure, you're thinking I know how to read, but what are the appropriate developmental steps to build upon to get my child reading ready?


Take a breathe, and know you are in the right place! And you are not alone!

I have a lot of parents who contact me and wonder about the same things and when would be an appropriate time to hire me as a tutor. I get asked something like, "Do you think my child is too young to start reading instruction?" or "What skills do I need to teach my child first?" or "How do I make sure my child is ready for kindergarten? What can I do at home?"


Therefore, I have sprinkled this blog post with activities for early readers, and I have created a checklist of the reading readiness skills that a child must know before diving into learning to read. As a tutor, I can help a child learn many pre-reading skills on the checklist, such as letters and their sounds. However, a definite prerequisite for me as a tutor is that a child knows how to sing the alphabet. It helps tremendously if the child knows that each letter makes its own sound. It is helpful when they can recognize some letters and know some sounds. Learning the letters and sounds in their name is a great place to start!


The reading readiness checklist will give you a place to start and allow you to check each item off the list with a confident and satisfying check! I have also listed some products that I think would be worthwhile to purchase and build pre-reading skills at home in a fun and easy way.





I hope this information helps you breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that you are on track to creating a confident, skilled reader in your child!



What does Reading Readiness and Pre Reading Skills Even Mean?

Reading readiness is when a child is ready to learn to read. It's the point when children prepare to transition from a non-reader to a reader in early literacy. Pre-reading skills are the vital skills and strategies that a child must know to learn to read. I dive into them deeper below, so keep reading!


By this point, children have already been working on their pre-reading skills unknowingly since birth. Listening to loved ones speak around them helps build their oral language knowledge. Learning to speak is a natural skill to us as humans. Every day, I am in awe of my daughter (nearly two years old) as she picks up new vocabulary and puts the world around her together. Reading, however, is not a skill that comes so naturally to us as humans. Reading must be taught systematically with appropriate development and skill level lessons.


Therefore to start to learn to read, a child must master the five primary skills for reading readiness listed below.



The Five Reading Readiness Skills a Child Must Master to Learn to Read


1. Knowledge of Letters


This skill involves singing their ABCs and recognizing letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make.


Knowing the letters and their sounds is a crucial skill for reading. However, a child does not need to know every letter of the alphabet before receiving reading instruction and learning to read.


How to Develop This Skill:

  • Read alphabet books.

  • Provide hands-on opportunities to work with the letters: puzzles, refrigerator alphabet magnets, or bathtub letters.

  • Use alphabet visuals such as alphabet cards, posters displayed in their playroom, alphabet play mat, etc.

  • Sing the alphabet together. Sing at a slow pace so your child can hear the different letter names and differentiate. One section that is challenging for most kids is LMNOP. Using an alphabet poster can be helpful for this as they can help point to each letter as they sing it or purchase an ABC Sing-Along Flip Chart. Using the flipbook and CD or downloadable songs (item linked below on Amazon) taps into the many different learning styles. It's visual, kinesthetic, auditory, engaging, and fun!

  • Engage them in activities that help to identify upper and lowercase letters.

Products to Consider Buying:

  • My First Bob Books - Alphabet Box Set

Bob books are a classic in helping children learn to read. They help them understand their letters and sounds through fun stories with alliteration, pictures, and more! These books are intended for preschool-kindergarten-aged children.


  • ABC Sing-Along Flip Chart

This is a resource often used in preschool-1st grade classrooms. It's a large flipbook with downloadable songs/stories that help introduce letters teach phonemic awareness and other essential early reading skills. Children learn a tremendous amount through stories and the repetition of music. This is a sure way to encourage reading in a fun way!

  • Fridge Magnets: Uppercase and Lowercase!

I love this set because it includes uppercase and lowercase letters so that your child can play with letters and gain familiarity by matching them, building words, and much more...the possibilities are endless!

  • Alphabet Play Mat

There are endless ways to play games for recognizing letters and or sounds with these mats. It's a cute way of incorporating letters into your child's everyday life and would be adorable in a playroom. You can build the mat in many ways (alphabetical order, spell words, make giant letter cubes).


  • Letter Games the Whole Family Can Enjoy! Games are a great way to build positive memories and associations with reading. Kids will be picking up reading skills without even realizing they are learning because they are having so much fun. The following links are games that I think would be fun and beneficial to have in your home for strengthening letter knowledge.!




2. Print and Book Awareness


This includes knowing how to hold a book, locating the front/back of the book, and realizing that the words on the page have meaning and represent spoken language.


How to Develop This Skill:

  • Model how to hold a book correctly and locate the front and back of the book and the title.

  • Model good reading behaviors. Model reading left to right across the page and point to each word as you read. You can also allow your child to turn the pages as you read.

  • Point out letters and words in your everyday lives (signs at the grocery store, letters on boxes and cans while you are cooking, and in your recipe books.

  • Draw your child's attention to different words and letters in the book as you read.

  • Read books with predictable text

  • Read books with large print

  • Allow them to "play" with print. Write letters, fake grocery lists, make their own books, etc.


Products to Consider Buying:

  • Bob Books

Bob Books are great for developing print awareness because they have large, easy-to-read print. Linked below are their Pre-Reading Skills box which introduces children to their letters (capital and lowercase), letter sounds, sight words, and fun stories.


  • Books with predictable text:

Reading books with predictable text is beneficial to a child's print and book awareness. It helps children recognize familiar words, familiarize themselves with the different word or sentence patterns, and make connections. Linked below are just two books that have predictable text.


  • Card Making Kit

This is a fun way to encourage children to play with print, copy letters, recognize letters and words, and so much more! Plus, there are endless occasions throughout the year that you can use to develop this skill!

  • Orchard Toys Shopping List

This game is a fun memory game for ages 3 to 7. It is advertised as a game to promote healthy nutrition, observational, and memory skills. Kids race to collect all the items on their list. I think it's the perfect way to develop print and word awareness!

  • Book Making Kit

I love these book-making kits! It's such a fun way for kids to learn about letters, text, familiar words, and print relating to the stories in the book as they work to create their very own story!



3. Listening Comprehension/Ability to Retell a Story


This skill involves listening to words spoken aloud and understanding the meaning. In other words, a child can be read a story and then retell you what the story was about after. Children who master this skill develop a vast vocabulary and have an easier time making connections to the world around them.


How to Develop This Skill:

  • Read with your child often. Help your child interact with the story (see the words and pictures as you read). Make it a part of your daily routine.

  • Model an enjoyment of reading. Allow your child to observe you reading in your day-to-day life.

  • Make reading time at home fun and enjoyable. Unplug from all technology and give your child your undivided attention. Creating fun, pleasant memories around reading will help create a lifelong love for reading! Please visit my other blog 10 EASY WAYS TO MAKE READING FUN AT HOME AND LESS OF A STRUGGLE to see how to make reading fun and enjoyable at home for parents and children alike!


Products to Consider Buying:

  • Reading and Listening Comprehension Cubes

These cubes are a fun way to bring an element of play and excitement to reading time! You can read a story to your child and then let them roll a cube to answer questions about what has been read.

  • Story Retell Comprehension Fun Deck

This fun game allows kids to tap into their listening and retelling/comprehension skills. Each card features a short story that you can read aloud to your child, and they have game ideas to make it engaging and fun!





4. Phonological Awareness


The ability to hear and name the sounds in words. This skill is crucial for students to know so that when they start reading, they can combine sounds to sound out words.


How to Develop This Skill:

  • Teach your child to rhyme. Read rhyming books such as Dr. Suess, sing nursery rhyme songs, and play clapping games like Miss Mary Mack with your child. Stop often in songs and books to allow them to identify the rhyme.

  • Play games that encourage your child to identify beginning sounds in words.


Products to Consider Buying:

  • Bob Books Rhyming Collection


  • Rhyming Bingo

Rhyming Bingo is a fun way to introduce your child to rhyming and build their skills. It's also an excellent opportunity for you to model words that rhyme by playing the game with them!

  • Rhyming Puzzles

Rhyming Puzzles are another fun way to learn to rhyme and get them interested in completing a fun activity. It's learning through play which all kids love!

  • Beginning Sound Dominoes

This is a fun game to play with kids to identify beginning sounds. So fun that they won't even realize they are learning!

  • Phonological Awareness Fun Park Board Game and Book

This product has it all! A board game and an activity book to keep learning after the game is done. They cover seven different areas of phonological awareness:

  • Phoneme rhyming

  • Identification

  • Discrimination

  • Manipulation

  • Blending

  • Deletion

  • Segmenting


5. Your Child is Interested in Reading


Is your child excited about reading time at home? Are they interested in what the pages say and motivated to read independently? Do you find them browsing through books on their own or making up stories to go along with the pictures?

If not, don't worry! All kids develop both interest and reading skills independently and in their way. Please keep reading for tips to try and nudge them in the right direction.


How to Develop This Skill:

  • Let your child choose what books they read or listen to you read. If they are interested in the topic, they are more motivated to learn! That also goes hand in hand with running with what your child is interested in. Find books on subjects that they get excited about. Do they love watching dinosaur shows or playing with dinosaurs at home? Perfect, seek out books about dinosaurs to read at home!

  • Make reading each day a part of your daily routine, like before bed. Make this time spent together reading light, fun, and enjoyable!

  • Prompt your child to engage with the material they are reading. Ask them open-ended questions such as, "What do you think will happen next?" Or "How do you think the character might be feeling in this moment?"

  • Motivate your child to use their imagination and tell stories. Allow them to make their books or paint pictures and tell you about the story they depicted in their art. Make it fun!

Products to Consider Buying:

  • eeBoo Fairytale Mix-Ups Create A Story Pre-Literacy Cards

These card sets are great for sparking a child's imagination. They can create their own stories or make one for them and then have them retell the story. The cards will be an excellent reminder for visual cues as they orally restate the story you created for them!


  • Display Their Books With a Low and Accessible Bookshelf

Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to read and explore books. Bookshelves that are at their height and allow them to access books are best to feel like they choose the books they read. I installed floating shelves like the ones linked below in my daughter's playroom, and not only do they look cute, but she naturally started interacting with her books more and wanting to read!




In Conclusion

If you still feel overwhelmed or like it would give you peace of mind knowing your child is working with a professional each week to instill these reading foundations, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am always delighted to be a part of a child's reading journey, watch them excel, and gain confidence in their reading skills.


Best of luck and happy reading!


About the Author

If your child is struggling with reading or needs more of a challenge, I can help! I have over eight years of experience helping children succeed in reading and beyond. All sessions are done online via Zoom from the comfort of your own home! Click below to register for a FREE Reading Assessment and start the process of receiving weekly reading instruction catered to your child's specific needs.


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