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Families and Literacy:

Reading Checkup for Babies and Toddlers (Ages 0–2)

How are your children developing as readers, and what can you do to help? Use RIF's series of Reading Checkups to evaluate your children’s progress through six stages of reading development, from picture-pointing to independent reading.

Each checkup describes the knowledge and skills that most children demonstrate at a given stage and suggests how they can be nurtured.

How to Use the Checkups

Use the reading checkups the way a doctor uses a growth chart. Look for a steady pattern of growth with a few lulls and spurts. That's a healthy sign that your child is doing well in reading.

Age or grade ranges are listed for each checkup, but just as a guide. We recommend that even if your child is already in school, you begin with the Reading Checkup for Babies and Toddlers and work your way forward. That way you will better appreciate the steady growth your child has already made toward becoming an independent reader.

How Parents Can Help

Parents play a key role in their children's reading development at every stage. As you mark your child's progress, don't forget to check up on what you can be doing to actively promote your child's interest and skills.

What Do the Checkups Mean?

Notice where most of your check marks fall. If your answers are mostly A's, your child may still be making the transition from an earlier stage. If the answers are mostly B's, your child is in the middle of this stage. If you checked mostly C's, your child is probably stepping up to the next level. If you have any concerns about your child's reading progress, talk to your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Checkup for Babies and Toddlers:

It's never too soon to begin reading to your child. Babies enjoy hearing a parent's voice, even if they can't understand the words. They soak up the language and attention. Toddlers can listen longer and follow a simple story. They focus on the pictures, but they are learning some of the basics about reading, such as how to hold a book and turn the pages. They are also learning to love reading.

Does your child...

1. Respond happily to reading by waving hands or batting the pages?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

2. Treat books differently than other playthings?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

3. Join in when you read rhymes, sounds, or lines that repeat?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

4. Want to read the same book again and again?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

Can your child...

1. Hold a book right-side up and turn the pages one at a time?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

2. Point to something in a picture and say its name?
a. not yet  b. sometimes  c. often

3. Retell something that happened during the day?
a. not yet  b. some words  c. often

4. Hold a crayon in a fist and scribble?
a. not yet  b. without control  c. with control

Not to worry! It's okay if your child...

1. Teethes on books or handles them roughly at first. Babies treat books like toys.

2. Quickly loses interest or is easily distracted when you read. Skip to a favorite page.

3. Wants to read the same story over and over again. Children learn through repetition.

4. Shows little interest in reading. Put the book down and try again later.

Source: Reading Checkup Guide: Helping Your Children Become Better Readers, developed for "Read Me a Story," a RIF/VISA brochure.

Reading Checkup for Babies and Toddlers (Ages 0–2)