How to Tackle Delayed Literacy

Is your kid having trouble with literacy skills? Learn what you can do as a parent to get your kid interested in reading so that he can succeed in school and beyond.

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by Deanna Glick

We all know that learning to read is important, but to what extent does delayed literacy really have adverse effects on our kids? Research shows that delayed literacy can lead to behavior problems and inhibit overall learning ability. Left unchecked, late readers are also at higher risk for dropping out of school, chronic unemployment and poverty.“If you have a child who isn’t reading by the middle of first grade, you should take action,” said Dr. Kristen Kinney-Haines, director of primary literacy at the online learning program K12. “The earlier you catch a problem, the easier it is to remediate."

Reading problems may be more common than you think. Nearly 40% of U.S. 4th graders do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency, according to children’s literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental. Failure to read proficiently has also been linked to higher rates of school dropout. The good news? In many cases, parents have the power to turn things around. Read on to find out how you can encourage your child's literacy.

Get Involved in Reading Groups

If sitting at home and reading a book doesn't appeal to your kid, look for ways to shake up her daily reading routine. A different setting or format might be enough to convince her that reading's not as dull as she thinks it is. Many local libraries have children's storytime groups. Getting out of the house as well as being among other kids who are excited about reading might boost your child's interest. Or, take matters into your own hands and host a kid equivalent of a book club with some of your child's buds, complete with snacks, crafts, and other activities to go along with the stories.

Get Your Game On

Reading games can be a game-changer for a kid who's intimidated or uninterested in reading books. Brainzy,'s math and reading program, has fun games and teaching videos for every kind of kid. For some offline fun, simple word games like word searches and crossword puzzles are another great way to support literacy skills in reluctant readers. 

Set a Good Example

One of the most effective literacy strategies for parents is simply setting a good example. “Kids need to see reading as a desirable activity and see adults reading, too,” Kinney-Haines says. Show your child how valuable reading is by prioritizing your own reading time. Treating a trip to the library as a reward to look forward to instead of an "ugh"-worthy chore will have a positive effect on the way your kid thinks about reading.

Be a Reading Buddy

Schedule a regular time where both you and your child drop the electronics and crack open a book. Read a book together, or read independently and share what happened in the story. "Talk about characters in books and how you can’t wait to learn what’s going to happen next,” says Kinney-Haines. For hands-on kids, follow up on the reading session with some drawing, acting, or other crafts to make reading even more exciting and develop comprehension skills. For example, after your child reads The Three Little Pigs, grab some popsicle sticks or twigs from the backyard to make the second little pig's house!

Do Extra-Curricular Learning

Your child could be having trouble developing reading skills at school, whether it's because he gets distracted in a classroom setting or because the materials and methods his teacher is using aren't his cup of tea.'s worksheets and printable workbooks are full of fun themes, illustrations, and activities to make reading engaging and accessible for your kid.

Find a Tutor

If it seems like your efforts alone aren't doing the trick, explore literacy programs through your child's school or other community organizations. Many older students are involved in community service groups to support children's literacy and offer tutoring for free. An attentive older kid who's excited about sharing her love of reading may work wonders on a child who's not quite sold on the idea of reading regularly.

Literacy is central to your child's success in academics and beyond. "Learning to read well is incredibly important. Even math performance is tightly linked to reading performance," Kinney-Haines says. Many kids aren't naturally excited by reading and literacy skills develop at varying rates, but investing some time and energy into repackaging the idea of reading for your child can inspire her to connect with her inner bookworm.

Dive into some fun-filled reading games and sign up for a free trial of Brainzy,'s reading and math program.

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