Helping Your Little One to Read: The Science of Reading

read me!

Do you know how to read? Of course! Because you’re reading this blog (thanks for that by the way). But do you know HOW to read? Do you understand why the letters in the words you’re reading are forming complex ideas in your mind?

If you answered ‘No’ to the previous two questions, you’re reading the right blog because today we’re going to try to understand the science of reading, and what you can do the help your little one become a great reader.

First things first, did you know that reading is not a natural process? Our brains aren’t wired to read; instead, they’re wired to understand the sounds that form up words to convey meaning.

Think about it, when you’re listening to someone speak you’re not thinking about the contortions of their mouths that form sounds to convey meaning. Instead, you’re hearing sounds produce words that inspire you to imagine complex ideas and concepts. Imagine that, instead of sounds, you’re using letters and words to convey the same meaning.

To learn how to read, researchers have found that young students must learn to identify sound when looking at letters on a page and in a word. By linking the sounds of the letters with the word, and breaking down what the spoken word represents, children piggyback their reading comprehension off of the vocal language centers of the brain, allowing them to become better readers.

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With all of this newfound knowledge (congratulations, you know more about reading science today than you did yesterday!) how do you help your little one become a better reader?


  • When reading to each other, ask your child to sound out the words. Help her to understand that words are made up of component sounds, each of which contributes to compose the entire word.
  • Remember that practice makes perfect. None of us became great readers overnight; remind your little one that it takes time to become a great reader. Remind him to continue to practice at it.

If you’d like more information about the science of reading check out this story from NPR, adapted from the documentary Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?