life of
dr. mom

Helping Your Child Learn to Read Will Help With Language Development and Academic Abilities

Child development of language and literacy abilities (the ability to talk, read and write) occurs in stages over time.  It includes developing oral language, reading comprehension, writing, and spelling skills.  Developing language and literacy skills is an ongoing process, and it is normal for children to develop these skills in stages, at different ages, and in different ways.  Studies have shown that reading books to your child often when they are young can help with child development of language and help them learn to read.  It may also support academic abilities later in life.

Because of variations in learning within home environments, children enter school with different knowledge levels.  This may impact the rate in which they learn to read and write.  Learning within the home at an early age may influence  academic achievement later in life.  

The environment in which children are raised plays a strong role in helping develop reading and writing skills.  In a previous blogpost, I discussed how early childhood exposure to book reading with parents between the ages of 1-3 years old has impact on a child’s later success and helps them learn to read.  

The frequency of early literacy experiences (ie: total number of times which you read baby books or kids books with your child) helps improve the development of reading and writing skills.  Studies have also shown that the quality of the parent-child interaction while reading books helps support child development and language abilities.  I know for Madi and I, reading books is an excellent time for bonding and snuggles. 

Book reading should be frequent and fun

But it is not just the frequency of reading books; the children have to actually like the books!  Here are some tips for incorporating reading to your child in your daily routine:

  • Try and find as much quality time as you can to read to your child.  Madi and I often read 1-2 bedtime stories.  
  • Chose books with characters you think your child will like and story lines that you think your child could benefit from learning.  Studies have shown children need a variety of diverse reading material!
  • Ask open-ended questions when reading to your child.  This invites them to reflect on the books material and will help them learn to understand the book. “What did you learn from the story?” (I don’t do this enough!)
  • Encourage discussions of the attributes of the characters in the book, and what they are doing.  “What do you think the dinosaur was trying to do when he crossed the road?”

For Madi and I, reading bedtime stories is one of my favourite parts of the day.  I have noticed that her language abilities improved a lot when we started reading baby books more frequently, and I hope it helps her to learn to read.  If anything else, it’s a great time to bond and snuggle. 

This post was co-authored by Suzanne Black, MD, BSc and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.


  1. Lipson MY, Wixson KK. The foundations of literacy. In: Assessment and Introduction of Reading Disability — An Interactive Approach, Lipson MY, Wixson KK (Eds), Harper Collins Publishers Inc, New York 1991.
  2. Whitehurst GJ, Lonigan CJ. Child development and emergent literacy. Child Dev 1998; 69:848.
  3. Ruben RJ. Communicative disorders. The first year of life. Pediatr Clin North Am 1994; 41:1035.
  4. Mason JM. When do children begin to read: An exploration of four year old children’s letter and word reading competencies. Reading Research Quarterly 1980; 2:203.
  5. Frith U. A developmental framework dyslexia. Ann Dyslexia 1986; 36:69.
  6. Larson K, Russ SA, Nelson BB, et al. Cognitive ability at kindergarten entry and socioeconomic status. Pediatrics 2015; 135:e440.
  7. Clay MM. The reading behavior of five-year old children: A research report. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies 1967; 2:11.
  8. Goodman KS, Goodman YM. Learning to read is natural. In: Theory and Practice of Early Reading, Resnick LB, Weaver P (Eds), Hilldale, Erlbaum, NJ 1979.
  9. McCormick CE, Mason JM. Intervention procedures for increasing preschool children’s interest in and knowledge about reading. In: Literacy: Writing and Reading, Teale W, Sulzby E (Eds), Ablex Publishing Corp, Norwood, NJ 1986.
  10. Adams MJ. Beginning to Read: Thinking and learning about print, The MIT Press, Cambridge,MA 1990.

A Step by Step Guide of how to sleep train

Sleep training is a personal choice and there are many happy thriving families that do not sleep train. My husband and I decided to sleep train our daughter Madi after 11 months of interrupted sleep. What is important to know


Jaundice and Newborns

Some degree of jaundice occurs in a large majority of all newborn infants.  Jaundice is a condition where a newborn baby’s skin turns yellow.  This can happen with any race or colour of the skin.   Why Does Jaundice Occur So Frequently in


Safety of Suspended Baby Jumpers

A common question I have been asked is about the safety of suspended baby jumpers like the Jolly Jumper. Personally, both of my kids loved the jolly jumper from the start and would giggle almost the entire time they are