How to

Reading to school-age children (aged 6-9 years)

Between the ages of six and nine, many children move through the stages of emergent reading to independence, so a lot happens in terms of literacy development! As with all other areas of their development, children develop at their own pace, so decide which of the ideas below best suit your children’s previous experiences and current abilities with books, as well as what interests them the most. In other words, try to match how you share books with your children with where they are ‘at’ because reading should always be meaningful and enjoyable for them. And remember to continue to find ways to read, write and tell stories with your children and to keep offering them encouraging words as they start to read and write on their own.

  • Read to your children. Throughout this phase of your children’s literacy development, continue to read to them – this provides them with a model for how we read. As your children get older, choose those books that they are not yet able to read on their own, to read to them.
  • Letting them read to you. As your children learn to read for themselves, create opportunities for them to read to you. For example, take turns reading aloud to each other just before bedtime. Also suggest that they try out their new skills by reading to a younger sibling. This is a great confidence booster and creates an opportunity for children to bond.
  • Hearing the sounds. Singing songs, saying tongue twisters and reading rhymes together help children to become familiar with the different sounds in words which assists them with their own reading and writing. Fun games, like ‘I spy with my little eye..’, provide an opportunity for you to focus on letter names and their sounds in a relaxed way.
  • Going beyond the story. As you read to your children or they read to you, help them make connections between what they are reading about and real life. For example, if the book they are reading is about a child’s first day at school, link it to your children’s first day at their school. Also, extend stories by asking children to think about why characters behaved in certain ways and what they might have done if they were in the same situation.
  • Don’t stop telling stories. Create a story that you all contribute to. For example, start telling a story on the way to school and then take turns to add to it each morning.
  • Writing and reading go together. Try to always have paper and pencils available for your children to experiment with writing. Encourage them to write their own stories and also find real opportunities for them to write – for example: thank-you letters, birthday cards and shopping lists. Try not to worry about whether letters are perfectly formed and spelling is correct. Remember that we write to communicate our thoughts and ideas so this is what we should encourage in children.
  • Everywhere you go. Don’t let your children leave home without a book with them. Encourage them to read in the car or on the bus and while they are waiting, for example, at the clinic or doctor’s surgery.
  • Read it again. Continue to read stories to your children when they ask for them again and again but also encourage them to read their favourite books and stories over and over again themselves. This helps them to read accurately – but remember, it needs to be something they want to do otherwise it will become a chore and we want to encourage children to read for enjoyment!
  • Choosing books. Help your child choose books that are the kinds of stories or topics that interest them. For example, some children like animal stories while others like non-fiction. As they start to read on their own, help them to choose books that are not too difficult so that are able to have lots of successful reading experiences. Keep the more difficult books for you to read to them!
  • Older children, longer books. Expose older children to chapter books. Read a chapter or two each day. Children who are ready for chapter books very often find a series they like and then want to read all the books in that series. Don’t worry about this – you can introduce other authors once there are no other books left in the series to read!