You could say that your baby starts on the road to becoming a reader on the day she is born and first hears the sounds of your voice. Every time you speak to her, sing to her, and respond to the sounds that she makes, you strengthen your child's understanding of language. With you to guide her, she is well on her way to becoming a reader.
There are several things that you can do as a parent to help your child learn to read. For example, you can start off by simply talking and listening to your child. From the very beginning, babies try to imitate the sounds that they hear us make. They "read" the looks on our faces and our movements. It is for this reason that it is important to talk, sing, smile and gesture to your young child. As your child grows older, continue talking with him. Ask him about the things he does or the events and people in the stories you read together. Let him know you are listening carefully to what he says. By engaging him in talking and listening, you are also encouraging your child to think as he speaks. In addition, you are showing that you respect his knowledge and his ability to keep learning.
Another step that you can take to help your child learn to read is by reading with her. Reading aloud to your child should start in infancy, and it should become part of your daily routine. Pick a quiet time, such as just before you put her to bed. This will give her a chance to rest between play and sleep. Also, try to spend at least 30 minutes each day reading to and with your child. At first, read for no more than a few minutes at a time, several times a day. As your child grows older, you should be able to tell if she wants you to read for longer periods. Don't be discouraged if you have to skip a day or don't always keep to your schedule. The important thing is to make sure that reading stays fun for both of you!
Reading together is a perfect time to help a late toddler or early preschooler learn what print is. As you read aloud, stop now and then and point to letters and words; then point to the pictures they stand for. Your child will begin to understand that the letters form words and that words name pictures. He will also start to learn that each letter has its own sound, which is one of the most important things your child can know when learning to read.
By the time children are 4, most have begun to understand that printed words have meaning. By age 5, most will begin to know that not just the story but the printed words themselves go from left to right. Many children will even start to identify some capital and small letters and simple words. In late kindergarten or early first grade, your child may want to read on his own. Let her! But be sure that she wants to do it. Reading should be something she is proud of and eager to do and not a lesson.
Source: U.S. Department of Education