Growing Into Books

You Can Help Your Child's Language Grow

Reading Aloud How to Read to
Your Child
Playing With Stories Choosing Books


Your 4- to 5-Year Old Child

How Your Child's Language is Growing

How You Can Help

Your child learns to use more new words every day.  By age 5 a child might use as many as 3,000 different words.

Talk to your child about what you are doing ("Mommy has to write a grocery list.").

Take time to describe what your child is doing ("You are lining up all the long trucks.").


Your child begins to use describing words (adjectives, adverbs), for example, "That ball is hard!"

When you talk and read to your child, point out colors, shapes, height, length, speed, temperature ("That is a bright, red bird!").


Your child pronounces more sounds correctly.

Speak clearly yourself, but accept your child's speech instead of correcting it


Your child begins to "read" or recognize public print, for example, names of stores, cereal boxes.

Ask your child to try to read familiar signs when you are out together ("What do you think this sign says?"  "Stop!"  "That's right!").


Your child begins to understand ideas about print. He can show you where the story begins and ends.  And he knows when you skip words on a page while you read!

Sometimes as you read, point to a familiar word or letter ("This word starts like your name!").  Sometimes move your finger under words while you read.

Sometimes talk about the parts of the book: its cover; the first page, the last page; turning it right-side up; the name of the author, the name of the illustrator.


Your child begins to draw simple pictures using straight lines and circles.

Color and draw or paint with your child.  Show your child how to draw a simple picture such as a face, the sun, or a flower.

Make sure your child has crayons and paper.  Hang up your child's work.  Let him know you are proud of his work.


Your child learns to write her own name, but she may still need your help.

Encourage your child to try simple writing tasks such as signing her name to a note, or making x's and o's on a greeting card, or writing just one letter such as making a large M on the grocery list to remind you to buy milk.


Your child can retell stories, and he can remember some of the words from the book.

Reread your child's favorite stories, even when you are tired of them.  (Favorite stories are like old friends. Reading them over and over helps children remember how the story goes. This is a very important part of learning how to read.)

When you are reading a story that you have already read to your child, ask, "Can you tell me what comes next?"  Praise your child for anything he or she remembers: "You remember so well!"  "You are almost reading!"

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last updated 11/05/02
©2004 The Pennsylvania State University
U.Ed. LIB 03-64