When Do Kids Learn To Read?

Have you been talking to other moms at your kid’s school or at the playground when the subject of reading comes up? Maybe little Johnny is starting to read, but your little one doesn’t seem interested yet? Try not to worry! Reading is one of those milestones that happens at different times for different kids. 

If you’re concerned about your child’s reading progress or what milestones they should be hitting, keep reading below. We will break down when kids learn to read and what you can do at home to encourage their reading. 

Is There A “Right” Time For Kids To Learn To Read?

If your child is heading into the preschool years, you may be wondering when they will start reading. The answer is: when they are ready! 

Remember when they were just learning how to walk? Some of your friends’ kids were already running and others were still mastering the art of crawling, and they were all around the same age. Now look at them! They’re all walking and running and skipping, and no one would ever know who walked at 9 months or 18 months. 

The same goes for reading! Many kids read by the age of 7, but some may read much earlier. Others may struggle past 7, especially with reading comprehension. Some kids won’t be avid readers, and others will always have a book in their hands. It really all depends on your child. At the end of the day, no matter if your child is slow to pick up reading, fast, or right on track, they will eventually be reading one day. 

What Are Reading Milestones For Different Ages?

Reading isn’t just about how your child learns to read when they’re in early elementary school. The skills you need to read actually begin in infancy. Each age comes with a different milestone that will prepare them for reading. 

Infancy To Toddler

You may not think of infants and toddlers when you think of reading, and you’d be surprised how important it is to read to babies and little ones before they can read on their own! The skills learned as babies help them develop their language. They’ll start to imitate the sounds they hear, respond to certain facial expressions, and play games like peek-a-boo. 

Once they get a little older, they’ll start recognizing their favorite books, point to pictures in the book that they recognize, and they may demand more storytime. During this time, they’ll have a longer attention span to be able to sit and read the book with you. 

It’s never too early to start a reading routine with your child. You can start at a few weeks or even a few days old. When you start your bedtime routine for your child, add a little reading. You can read a few simple board books before bed. Even if you don’t think they’re paying attention, it’s important for them to hear the language at a young age to help with their brain development.


In preschool, kids may be able to sing the ABCs and visually recognize some letters. They may also be able to retell a story told to them. It’s around this age when they start to recognize certain patterns in words, like rhyming. They may start to write the letters they know, and some preschoolers may even be able to write their names. 


In kindergarten, kids will start learning how to find the sounds that make up words. They may be able to read certain words, and they will begin focusing on certain sight words. 

These words are usually those that are abnormal, and you just have to memorize them. Kindergarteners understand that books are read from top to bottom, left to right. They can also retell stories giving main ideas. 

First Grade

During the first grade, many kids will become even more comfortable with reading. They may be able to sound out more difficult words and self-correct if they read a word incorrectly. First graders may show more confidence in spelling, and try to sound out more words when writing a story. They may also be able to draw a picture after reading a story to show their comprehension. 

How Do Kids Learn To Read?

As we now know, reading doesn’t just happen overnight. It begins when babies start learning to understand their native language. 

However, there are many different reading programs used in preschools, schools, and homeschool curriculum. Different school districts may use different programs. 

If you’re curious about what your child’s school is using, talk to their teacher. They’ll be able to tell you the program their school uses. It may help you to provide a little more consistency at home. Remember, don’t push your child too hard. A love of reading is more important than pushing them to read when they aren’t quite ready. 

How Can Parents Help Their Kids Read?

If you’re wondering what you can do to help your kids learn to read, the biggest thing you can do is help foster a love for reading and communication. This can come in the form of reading to them often, singing songs, playing learning games, and having conversations with them. 

Parents aren’t the only ones that can help foster a love of reading in children. Get Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Martin, and Aunt Casandra involved. You can do this through the Caribu app! Set up a video-call through Caribu, and after you are finished catching up, they can read or play a game with your little one. 

Sing Songs

Whether you have the voice of an angel or the only place safe for you to sing is in the car alone, your kids will love your singing voice! Singing is great for connecting with your baby. Sing songs like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Rock-A-Bye Baby.” 

As they get older, singing helps slow down words so they can hear more sounds within the word. Incorporating songs like “B-I-N-G-O,” “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” can help your older kids interact and sing along with the songs as well. 

Read Books

Read, read, and read some more! Starting as early as you can, fit it into your routine and keep reading to your kids. Even if they’re little and are more interested in biting their books than looking at the pictures, keep bringing out the books and reading them. The more books kids read, the more words they hear as they grow. They will also build a love for reading from a very young age. 

Play Learning Games

Kids love playing games, especially with the grownups in their lives. Games are an easy way to help your child learn, without them even noticing! They will just be enjoying the one-on-one time they’re getting with you or their loved ones over a video-call. 

On Caribu, we have many games that can help reinforce letters and words, like word searches and matching games. Your child can match the beginning sound of a picture to the word bank of letters, or match a picture with its word. 

When Should You Seek Help?

Remember, all children are different, and they read at different times. However, if you suspect your child may be struggling with reading, it’s best to get them help as soon as possible. If you’re concerned, talk to their teacher, doctor, or a reading specialist. They’ll be able to assess your child’s reading and put your mind at ease, knowing they are at the correct level or by giving you more resources for your child. 

If your budding reader is having some trouble, they’re not alone. 40% of students aren’t reading at their basic level. It’s important to get the extra help they need sooner rather than later. Once students get to third grade and beyond, much of their curriculum is based on independent reading. If your child is struggling with reading, they may struggle with other subjects because of it. 


There is no set time for when a child begins to read. Depending on the child, they may read super early, or they may wait until 6 or 7. Most children learn to read by the age of 7, and it’s important that your child can read by the third grade. Once in third grade, reading is not specifically taught, as much as it is used in teaching other concepts. 

There are many reading milestones children hit, starting at birth. Reading, singing, and playing games with your child, at their level, can help give them the foundations they need to be successful readers. If you suspect your child needs additional help with reading, reach out to their teacher or doctor. They’ll be able to assess their reading and give you additional resources to help your child. 

We love reading! At Caribu, we know how important it is to encourage a love for reading at an early age. Your kid’s loved ones can even join in on the reading and playing!


Typical Language Accomplishments for Children, Birth to Age 6 — Helping Your Child Become a Reader | US Department of Education

Read It Again! Benefits of Reading to Young Children | ECLKC

IRIS | Page 1: Struggling Readers | Vanderbilt