Guiding Your NonReader Into The Reader’s World

In my experience as an elementary school educator, I have learned people become readers ONLY when the desire to read is present. Yes, there can be “challenges” influencing how someone learns, even if the motivation is there. However, this guide is not geared towards a “special needs” learner.

Although most children LOVE being read to, some of those children are not interested in learning how to read for themselves….yet. However, when entering Kindergarten as a 5-year-old, the current expectation is s/he will be reading BEFORE entering First Grade.  This first “school” year is critical and pivotal to your child’s success  as a scholastic student.

And intelligence is usually not a factor….Many genius-types were slow, challenged or even reluctant readers: Leonardo DaVinci, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein. They authored books like other struggling readers who became famous authors: Jules Verne, G.B.Shaw, F.Scott Fitzgerald & Agatha Christie ~ to name just a few…

Anyway….  my Reading & Writing with Your “I Am FOUR!” post will give you a solid foundation on teaching pre-reading skills. Connect by clicking on the link below:

Your Home’s Harbor Is Your Child’s First “Classroom”

Creating a successful Learning Environment can take some work & organization, but it will show your child you are a serious contributor to her/his world of academics. Check out Your Educational Home Environment in BLB’s Resource Library by clicking on the link below:

I, also, created a PDF Materials & Activities List for you to copy. Click on this link below:

A Materials & Activities List for the Home~Learning Experience

Scheduling Literacy Activities within  predictable Routines can be a major influence to your child’s confidence & your sanity. I have created a 9-page  e-booklet filled with suggestions,  possibilities & a schedule template. Just click on BLB’s 10 R’s for Small Actives Management  PDF Resource below:

BLB’s 10 R’s

If your child has been engaged in Pretend Play as well as Free Play, s/he  is definitely on the Literacy Path. Using Play presents many powerful opportunities for Literacy growth & development.  (see Language & Play with Your “I Am FOUR!” )

You can, also, access some Literacy Ideas & Templates for Pretend Play in BLB’s Shop that encourage reading & writing during Pretend Play. Just Click on the link below:

Another product available to you & yours for your Educational Home Environment is a Daily Literacy & Weather Calendar Kit. It is similar to one’s used in K-3 classrooms and full of engaging activities for your 5-year-old. Just click on BLB’s Shop product link below:

So ~ What Skills Do My Child Need to Know BEFORE Entering  Kindergarten ?

Your child may be more prepared for the Kindergarten World than you think. There are many websites & checklists for you to use as a gauge for “Readiness”. I have several Resources available for you. Start by clicking & printing this PDF List of School Readiness: 5Rs of SchoolReadiness.

BLB’s Resource Library has a specific Kindergarten Readiness Skills read you can access by clicking on the link below:

BLB Shop has an actual I Am Ready For Kindergarten Workbook you can use with your child while monitoring his/her progress. It can, also, be a great tool to share with her/his teacher. Click on the link below:

If you are a reading family, your child is aware of print. Preparing him/her to identify  and, yes, write the different letters of the alphabet requires a knowledge of basic shapes: circle, triangle, square & rectangle. Pointing these shapes out in the environment is fun and very productive. BLB Shop has a Colors & Shapes Sort & Match Game to help with these concepts:

A few tips & strategies:

  • Practice skills with games in small increments of time throughout the day. 
  • Hands-on, interactive learning is a very effective way to teach these necessary skills.
  • Provide opportunities for review to build confidence as well as mastery, so s/he can progress to new levels of understanding.
  • Let your child set the learning/teaching pace.
  • Make sure to allow time for her/him to “teach” you what s/he knows. It’s a GREAT learning tool for you!

Now, onto the Land of Letters….

Learning in the Land of Letters ~ AKA ~ Phonological Awareness

ABC Train- Pranavruls

Kindergarten is usually the first place to find NonReaders; although I had them in First, Second , and, even Third Grade. Again, smarts had very little to do with their NonReading situation. Of course, by Second & Third grades, we, as educators are becoming concerned with a student’s lack of reading abilities and/or desire. But there’s nothing like peer pressure to create sparks of motivation, especially in Kinder & First. 

Your child’s Understanding & Speaking Language Skills are major building   blocks in her/his pre-reading skills. For an in-depth read on this critical area of growth & development, read

Recognizing HOW your child learns will help you teach him/her more effectively. You can access some of that information in this post :

Before entering Letter Land, let me ask you a few questions.

  • Can s/he count the number of words in a sentence you read?
  • Does s/he recognize there are different words in that sentence?
  • Is s/he aware of the different sounds within those words?
  • How does s/he feel about rhyming?
  • Are there letters s/he can identify, such as the ones in his/her name?
  • Can s/he count syllables in 2 or 3 syllable words?
  • Are there a few words (Sight & High Frequency) s/he can recognize as familiar &, maybe, “read”?
  • How are his/her book-handling skills when s/he “reads” to you and/or others?

Guess that was more than a few, but they lay the groundwork for the next part of this Guide.

Playing with Language On the Riverbanks of Rhyme

This Language Skill is MAJOR! The ability to identify words that rhyme as well as produce words that rhyme is so important to a pre-reader.  Some of your child’s favorite reads are Rhyming Books. Several of them, s/he has memorized. Dancing , clapping, tapping, with other rhythmic movements & sounds can be part of your child’s flowing responses to the read, especially when s/he was much younger (yesterday). Are some of these books part of your 5-year-old’s Rhyming Books Library?


CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM ~ Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE ~Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

JAMBERRY ~ Bruce Degan


THERE’S A WOCKET IN MY POCKET (or any Dr. Seuss books)

MOO BAA LALALA ~Sandra Boynton


“I CAN’T,” SAID THE ANT ~Polly Cameron


Here’s a PDF 50 Rhyming Words List you can print and make into word card games:

50 Beginning Rhyming Words

BLB Shop has a Word Family Game, I Am Jam, I created for rhyming fun:

River Rafting with Oral Rhyming Games

Played throughout the day anywhere, these banter games can be very engaging. Here are some ideas from Anna Geiger@the measuredmom:

  • Using a word family chunk, like -an, make up some riddles as clues for the word: Your daddy is a (man). Some food comes in a (can). When it’s hot, I need a (fan) to cool off. I cook food in a (pan). You can lay in the sun to get a (tan).
  • Ask for a word that rhymes with a clue you’ve given:  What is an animal that rhymes with log? What is a color that rhymes with bed? What is a toy that rhymes with like?
  • Make up rhyme sentences & have your child fill in the missing word: A big, brown hog sat by a  (log). My little white cat took a nap on the (mat). Oh look! There’s a tiny black bug crawling in the (rug).
  • You start a rhyme for your child to finish: Is it a bear? No, it’s a pear. Is it a bat? No, it’s a cat! Is it a pig? No, it’s a wig!
  • Am I Rhyming? Say 3 words & ask if they rhyme: goat/boat/coat; hat/sat/bug; pink/rink/stink; map/lap/can; run/sun/fun
  • Make a rhyming chain, taking turns with your child.

Creating nonsense, rhyming words is especially fun and can lead to lots of giggles when you ask your child to “define” the word. You can even publish them in a “dictionary”.

Navigating the Alphabet Adventure

Children take great pride in singing the Alphabet Song regardless of the “l-m-n-o-p” mix up. Your child can probably tell you the letters in his/her name and identify some common environmental letters, like the M in McDonald’s, the S in the stop sign, the Ds in Dunkin’ Donuts, and the R in Racetrack Gas. Exploring & learning the alphabet, letter by letter can be done in multiple ways.

The order in which the alphabet is taught varies with thought….If you need an Alphabet Sequence Guide, BLB’s Library has a Resource for you:

 Teaching the Alphabet : A Sequence Guide

There are a VAST number of hands-on activities many websites share for teaching/learning the alphabet. Reinforce the beginning sounds of each when teaching them in a repetitive, exaggerated way. BLB’s Library has a Resource List of Websites with lots of clever & FUN Ways for Learning the ABCs:

BLB Shop has a Let’s Play Some Alphabet Games product. You can view it by clicking on the link below:

You can, also, copy & print on the PDF link below for a Matching Uppercase & Lowercase Letter game:

We Go Together

Taking An Alphabet Book Tour

Visiting your local library in search of the ABC books found in the Children’s Room/Section is a wonderful way to learn some of your child’s interests.  Read lots of engaging alphabet books ~ here’s a few my children & I have enjoyed:

Rhyming Text


ABC AT HOME ~ A. Hawthorne & D. Zawada


DR. SEUSS’ ABC ~ Dr. Seuss


Vivid Illustrations




Real-Life Photos



Or check out this website listing 50 ABC books for children of all ages. Kristen, a Kindergarten teacher & parent, also, offers a brief summary for each book choice.

Sailing Through the Sea of Sight Words

Growing a Sight Words/High Frequency Words base with your child is a great confidence builder for your soon-to-be reader. Need a list of these words? It is quite lengthy, so proceed with caution, teaching in small increments ~ words & time-wise. Review the word collection once a day, supplying unknown words. Quick recognition -without sounding out- usually takes about 5 repetitions. Review again, periodically, and point them out during read-alouds. Click on the link below for a comprehensive sight words list combined with high frequency words list. The Dolch & Fry lists overlap.

Here’s a wonderful website Christie Burnett has created with a collection of sight words activities & games from around the web:

BLB Shop has a collection of sight word-card-ready games, Yes, I Am ! You can check it out by clicking on the link below:

Your read-alouds along with practicing Phonological Awareness Skills ~ rhyming, syllable counts & letter recognition/sounds ~ as well as Sight Words are preparing your child to pick up a Beginning reader for beginning to read. 

Exploring the Wonderful World Of Books

Letters to Words & Books-Free Images 9
Letters to Words & Books-Free Images 9

You and your child can make an “I Am A Reader” poster together by clicking & printing the activity on the PDF link below:

I Am A Reader poster

Always read the Title & Author of the book. Point out where you are beginning to read ~ left to right & top to bottom. Turn pages gently. Read interactively, asking questions about the read & his/her opinions/predictions.

Here are some other  “teaching points & things to focus on” as your pre-reader prepares to become a reader, courtesy of Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Richardson@mrsrichardson’sclass :

  • one-to-one correspondence (finger/word, finger/word)
  • letter clusters make a word
  • a string of words make a sentence
  • words & pictures are clues for each other
  • one letter makes its own sound
  • one word has several sounds
  • start reading a sentence at the beginning capital letter
  • stop reading a sentence at the punctuation mark

Model these behaviors again & again. Is your child squirming away?

Discovering the Hidden Treasure of Writing-To-Read

If your child continues to show a very limited interest in reading words, perhaps s/he would rather read words s/he has spoken as a story. Many of my NonReaders experienced success with this strategy. It really works!

You can begin by  “reading” a Wordless Picture Book” together. Have several on hand as well as pencil & paper. BLB’s Resource Library has several book lists ~ one for ages 0-3 and another for ages 5-8. If you’re a book-loving family, your Literacy Circle may already have some of these awesome “reads”. Check them out on the links below:

The Writing-To-Read Passport

Here is a sequence suggestion I have successfully used with some of my NonReaders:

  • Write 5-6 short sentences, using your child’s words in fairly large print.
  • Space out the words because you or your child will be cutting them apart.
  • Make sure to include as many sight words and word family words your child already knows. Suggest them during his/her tell of the story.
  • Staple together several sheets of plain paper, making sure you have a front/back cover & a title page.
  • With the Wordless Picture Book story in front of both of you, cut out the sentence that goes with the picture & lay it on top or near the picture.
  • Cut out each word & read them. See if your child can form them into an accurate sentence with your help.
  • Have your child glue them to the first blank page of the book you’ve made.
  • Continue with the rest of the sentences, creating the book.
  • Set it aside unless your child is ready to illustrate her/his book, making sure to include picture clues for the words.

You can, also, write down a story your child has created. Follow the above sequence with a  picture being drawn as soon as the sentence is read and glued to the blank book page.

BLB Shop has a Reading & Writing Tool Using Word Families & High Frequency Words,  “Ka~Zam I Am!”. You can view it by clicking on the link below:

Continuing to read-aloud interactively with your child is extremely valuable to your child’s future reading success. Keep up the GOOD work! It may be slow going at first, but, believe me, once the spark is lit, your child will sky- rocket into the reading world!

The Big Tell of Entering The Reader’s World

Yes, there is a Major Tell your child is ready to really read ~ s/he is using Phonemic Awareness Skills. These skills include hearing, identifying & manipulating the sounds of letters in words. WOOOOHOOO!

BLB Shop has a couple of Literacy games to help reinforce these skills: S Says SSSS for learning the Beginning Sounds & Letters of words and M Says MMMM for learning Ending Sounds & Letters of words. You can check them out by clicking on the links below:


Questions? Concerns? Tips, suggestions & strategies you want to share? Let me hear how you and yours are doing.

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