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A parent's guide to improving literacy skills: Tips for helping a child who has trouble reading

Literacy in general terms is defined as the ability to read and write. 

While these skills are taught in schools, support from parents at home is important to a child's success. 

Moms and dads should express how vital reading and writing are to your children at a young age. 

The earlier these skills are incorporated into their daily routines, the better. 


There are several techniques you can try to help your children if they are having a hard time with their literacy skills. 

Below are just a few. 

student listens in class

Literacy skills are taught in school, but can be reinforced at home, too.  (Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

  1. Start incorporating reading into your child's life at an early age
  2. Highlight vocabulary words while reading
  3. Give children a say
  4. Take turns reading out loud with your child
  5. Read with excitement
  6. Make reading part of the daily routine
  7. Take a trip to the library
  8. Set a good example for your child
  9. Label objects at home
  10. Bring your child on a shopping trip for a journal

1. Start incorporating reading into your child's life at an early age

Story time can start before children say their first word. 

Creating the healthy habit of reading early in a child's life will help that habit to stick as they grow older. 

There is no age that is too early to read to your baby. Start reading to your newborn before nap and bedtime, to establish a routine and also allow the child to hear the rhythm and patterns of your voice. 

As kids get older, they will begin to get more involved with story time. 

2. Highlight vocabulary words while reading

Once your child is older, instead of simply reading a book start to finish, begin to pick out different vocabulary words from the story. 

Mother reading a book in a hammock to her two kids

Start reading with children at an early age, and continue it throughout their childhood to create the healthy habit.  (Photo Media/ClassicStock/Getty Images)

Take extra time to talk about the meaning of the word with your children, and have them repeat the word after you. 

This will slowly begin to expand their vocabulary. 

3. Give children a say

Give children a choice in the books they are reading. 

Let your child pick out the book for the night, to get him or her excited about reading. 

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that they are reading something. 

4. Take turns reading out loud with your child

Hearing your children read aloud is a great way to improve their literacy skills and get a feel for their progress, but it can also be intimidating for kids to read out loud for a long period of time. 


To combat this, take turns: Have your child read aloud, and then take a turn yourself in reading aloud — this way, they can both practice reading themselves and also hear the words being read aloud to them. 

A mother reading to her daughter

Whenever you read to your child, read with excitement in your voice to make it a fun experience. (C Ursillo/Classicstock/Getty Images)

5. Read with excitement

Whenever you're reading out loud to your child, whether it be a whole book or a section, always make it fun.

If you read with excitement in your voice, your child is going to feed off your energy. 

By contrast, if you are reading in a very dull, monotonous voice, your children probably aren't going to be very excited to read, because they will pick up on that energy, too. 

6. Make reading part of their daily routine

Make reading a part of your kids' routine. Before bed is a popular time to get in the routine of reading a story. 

This doesn't mean you can't read with your child at other points throughout the day, but just make sure that there is a set time when reading occurs. 

7. Take a trip to the library

The library is a place that can get kids really excited about reading. The best part: It's free! 

Child in a library

Take your child on a trip to the library, where they can pick out new books to read. (In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

Plan trips to the library where your kids can pick out a stack of new books to get them more excited about reading. J

ust don't forget to return them when you're done! 

8. Set a good example for your child

Lead by example. If your children see you reading often, they'll want to read just like you. 


Show them that reading is something that you do, too. 

9. Label objects at home

To help with vocabulary, label common objects around the house, such as the couch and fridge. 


Seeing the word spelled out and what it represents can help your child's literacy skills grow. 

10. Bring your child on a shopping trip for a journal

Just as kids love picking out books at the library, they'll also love picking out a brand-new journal for writing. 

Take them to the store and let them pick their own journal to encourage them to write more often at home. 

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Ashlyn Messier is a writer for Fox News Digital.