Learning to read is one of the most important skills our children will ever learn, yet as parents, most of us have no idea how to begin!

Keep reading and I will walk you through the 3 simple steps and show you how to teach your 4 year old to read!

How to teach your 4 year old to read. Resources, books, online programmes and tips to help your 4 year old learn to read.

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This article is written from my own experience. By the age of 4, my son was reading fluently. Now at 5 years-old, he can pick up almost any book, read it and enjoy it. At the moment he’s especially keen on our encyclopedia!

And that’s what it’s all about for me; opening up the world of books to them whenever they’re ready.

Whether you home educate, or your children go to school, these simple steps will help you to teach your 4 year old to read. insha’Allah.

Not all children are developmentally ready to read at 4 years-old.
PLEASE PLEASE don’t force a child who is not ready!!! It will do more harm than good!

However, if you’re child is ready and eager to learn to read, this article will show you how I did it, so you can ‘Teach YOUR Four year old to Read In 3 Easy Steps.’

1. Develop their Love of Books and Stories

If a child love books, the he will love to read.  If he loves to read, he will love to learn. Insha’Allah.  

This is by far the most important factor in teaching your child to read and if you take nothing else away from this article please take this…

A child who is self-motivated will learn to read, and learn any other skill that they want to learn, much quicker and more easily than a child who is not self-motivated.

Love books, love reading , love learning

If you have to force your child to read, it will be much harder for both of you, take longer, and may even cause your child to dislike reading altogether.   

So how can you encourage this self motivation?

There are several ways that you can nurture a passion for reading in your children.

– Read to your 4 year old

Set aside time everyday to regularly read aloud to your children. Make that time special for them. Cuddle up under a blanket by the fire, drink hot chocolate or just let her sit on your lap. She should look forward to that time with you. Make it magical. Give her your undivided attention, full of your love and affection, and read her incredible stories that will feed her imagination.

– Surround them with books

Fill your home with as many books as you can afford. There should be a small collection of books in every room for your children freely to look at.

If you have space, you may even make a little ‘reading nook’ for your home, a specially designated space, used only for reading and enjoying books.

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

However you decide to implement this principle, it will teach your child to give importance to books, and thereby give importance to learning and seeking knowledge.

– Take a regular field trips

Trips to libraries and other places of knowledge can show your kids that your family’s passion for reading is not in isolation, but there are many like minded people who share your enthusiasm. When they see other children excited by books, they will join in!

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

STEP 2: Turn Off the TV

If your television is on all day, the books will most likely be left on the shelves. Not only is TV highly addictive for small children, becoming a bad habit that is hard to break, but it will also teach them that the TV is important; and more worryingly, that what the TV says is important!

There are many benefits to turning off the TV, but the most relevant to this article is that it WILL cause your children to read more. I have seen it in my own home. With no other distractions, children will pick up the books you have put in each room and read for fun.

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

My children do have restricted daily screen-time, but I work hard to make sure that the TV and other devices are off for most of the day.

So, even if you can’t remove the television completely, try to at least restrict how much TV they watch. Limit the hours that the television is put on, and keep it off the rest of the time.

STEP 3: Buy the right books!

  If you feel your child is ready to start learning to read (often referred to as Reading Readiness) you will need to invest/borrow some books to help you to begin.  

The first thing you will need is a ‘Primer.’

We have used the Primer: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading  by Wise and Buffington

Another highly recommended alternative is

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

A primer teaches the rules of reading, beginning with the phonetic sounds of each letter. It then progressing to blending, through to difficult multi-syllabic words.

By the time your child finishes one of these primers, you can be completely confident that they can tackle any other book out there.
Although the books above are printed in the U.S. they are suitable for children in the U.K.

Once your child has learnt the sounds of the letters, they can also begin reading short books called ‘Easy Readers’, whilst continuing the later lessons in the primer.

For the early stages I would recommend the easy readers: Bob Books First!

Read With Biff, Chip And Kipper

Having progressed through one of these box sets you can move onto more challenging readers. There are many sets and curriculum available that you can follow if you wish.

My advice would be to choose books according to your child’s interests rather than following a rigid curriculum.

Whether its fairies, cars, horses or monsters, there are a multitude of easy readers available to buy online and borrow from the library.

Elementary Student Reading in Library

Do not worry that you are not completing every book in the series, or reading them in the correct order, because if you are working through a primer, then your child will not miss any of the ‘rules’ they need to know.

What is more important at this stage is that they continue to love reading and books, and the act of reading does not become a chore to them.

After the ‘Easy Reader’ stage they can read anything they want to, with some guidance from Mum!

Related: Day in the Life | What Homeschooling is REALLY LIKE!

Further Book Recommendations

For more comprehensive reading lists, ordered by age, ability and topic, I would recommend Honey for a Child’s Heart
 by Gladys Hunt.

If at any point your child seems to loose interest, just take a break for a few weeks.

Pinterest is full of fun activities for you to do with your child to improve her reading skills without opening up a book. She will be learning to read without realising it!

On those days when the kids are sick, or they just don’t want to cooperate, we love using Reading Eggs, an online reading programme full of games and songs.

– Related: Full review of the Reading Eggs programme HERE!

At this young age it is vital that you remain flexible and take a relaxed approach to teaching reading. Make it enjoyable and have fun!

So that How to Teach your Four-year-old to READ in 3 Easy Steps!

Of all three steps it is step one, instilling a love for books, that is the most important.

Without it you will face a constant struggle with your child, in an effort make them cooperate and do something they have no desire to do. If they love books, they will want to read.

Please leave me a comment below and tell me how you are teaching your children to read. What resources have you used? What are some of your children’s favourite books?

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19 Comments on How to Teach your Four year old to Read…if they want to!

  1. Aisha M. Mai
    30/07/2015 at 9:02 am (9 years ago)

    Assalamu alaykum. Wonderful advice. My son is just a year but this is really helpful as I love to read and I do try to make time and read out loud with him on my lap.
    Thank you for sharing. JazaakAllah khair wa BaarakAllah feekum.

    • Gemma
      30/07/2015 at 10:00 pm (9 years ago)

      Walaykum assalaam.
      Jazakillahu khayrun.
      Its so great that you and your little boy enjoy reading together. mashAllah. It sounds like you are doing a great job!
      Thank you for visiting our blog

  2. seema bux
    30/07/2015 at 9:21 am (9 years ago)

    I'm stuck on step one ?

    • Gemma
      30/07/2015 at 10:01 pm (9 years ago)

      Oh dear! Whats happened?!?!

  3. Ummu Meriem Nour
    04/10/2015 at 6:11 am (9 years ago)

    Assalamu 3alayki!
    jazakillahu khayran for your useful article! exaclty what I needed.
    My daughter is near 4 years old alhamdulillah. I already followed the first 2 steps from her birth and she always wants more! but I don't know if she is ready, I will read "Reading readiness". We have a "qira'atu" workbook to start.
    Like you, I believe the most important is the first step, loving books and loving reading! and when they know reading, they can easily access to so much enjoyment and knowledge mashaAllah!
    May Allah bless you all!
    wassalamu 3alaykum!

    Ummu Meriem Nour from @Arabic Yawmiyan

    • Gemma
      04/10/2015 at 6:42 am (9 years ago)

      Walaykum assalaam,
      JazakAllahu khayrun. I'm so glad that you found this post useful. Thank you for your support! Pleae keep us in your duaas 🙂

  4. Ummu Meriem Nour
    04/10/2015 at 6:53 am (9 years ago)

    wa laki khayru al jazA'! you're welcome! you motivated me to more focus on teaching reading to my little one. have a sweet and nice Sunday with your family!

  5. Ema A
    01/12/2015 at 11:07 am (9 years ago)

    Assalamu alaikum sister. I came across your Instagram page today and started reading some of your blogs (out of curiosity of homeschooling children, even tho my little one is in school
    Nursery). I have to say ma'sha'Allah sis you are doing an amazing job! I'm always looking for ideas to help me with my child's learning and development and all your posts on Instagram and the blogs I have read (so far) have given me a whole new outlook to home learning! Jazaka'Allah khair for sharing sis and In'sha'Allah make duah that I can implement some of these into my children's lives. May Allah SWT bless you and your family with a happy life in the height of eimeen. Ameen

  6. Auntie Nana
    15/02/2016 at 10:07 pm (8 years ago)

    Assalam alaykum sister, i came across your blog a few months back. Alhamdulilah your blog was a wake up call and a call to action. I always read to my son (and he loved books but also TV) but was not sure how to move from teaching him the alphabet to reading. We are not planning on homeschooling so although i wanted to personally teach him to read i always thought i couldn't and will wait till he started school. But alhamdulilah you showed me what was possible and we are well on our way by the help of Allah. Alhamdulilah I got flash cards and we have now completed the set 1 phonics. I got the read with biff.. set. So inshaallah i need to just start encouraging him to read it. Do you advise he knows some sight words first? And how do i go from teaching him the phonics to encouraging him to read. Jazakillahu khayran

  7. Naomi Macklin-Carr
    05/01/2017 at 9:35 pm (7 years ago)

    JazakAllah khair for this. My eldest just turned 4 and I think she is ready to start but I just wasn't sure how to go about teaching her. I'm so glad that you had this as a link on your last video. Really loved that too! Planning out our homeschool year so will check out some of your other videos too 🙂

  8. Magic and Mayhem
    26/09/2017 at 7:56 pm (7 years ago)

    We believe strongly in the first step too, and have a house full of books. We read to our kids often and also model a love of reading books ourselves. We have never used any kind of reading curricula, though. All of our children learned to read quite naturally with just reading to them often, talking about how the words go together, and playing simple games I made up (such as concentration style games matching simple words with their pictures, or spelling words with letter tiles).

    My oldest child read her first word (boo) at age 3 and was reading fluently by 4. My next three children all read at 5 years old, some earlier in that year and some closer to 6. My last child is nearly 6 and not reading yet but I have seen how easily it will fall into place as soon as she is ready and she is showing signs that it will click soon.

    As a mother who has been homeschooling for some time (my oldest has now graduated), I can promise that it doesn’t honestly matter if children read at 4 or 7. When they do learn, they quickly catch up. You can’t tell any difference now between my 19 year old who read at 3 and my 17 year old who read at nearly 6. They both love to read and write, and are both intelligent young women. Their younger brothers were the same, and I’m sure my little girl will also be the same.

    The important thing is not to teach reading early but to teach a love of books and learning from the start. Have faith and as long as you can maintain that love of books and learning, the rest is easy. 🙂

    • Gemma Somauroo
      03/10/2017 at 3:34 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a beautiful comment! I wrote this blog post several years ago, and in that short time I have to say that I have come to agree with you…it really doesn’t matter when they learn to read. What is far more important in instilling a love for reading and learning.
      Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. ☺

  9. Naseema
    19/02/2019 at 4:31 am (5 years ago)

    Assalamu alaikum! Thanks for the great article. I was in search of such advice. My Son just turned 4 and I could see that he loves to read. But now with ur help I got to know my part. Jazakallahu khairan!

    • Gemma Somauroo
      20/02/2019 at 3:02 pm (5 years ago)

      Walaykum assalaam Naseema. That’s wonderful! I’m so glad I could help xx

  10. Dr Susan Larcombe
    09/03/2019 at 6:36 am (5 years ago)

    As salamu alaikum, Gemma! Would you say that either 100 Lessons or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide are appropriate to use with a child who can already read simple phonics books (Phonics stage 1+) in order for them to move on, eventually towards chapter books? Or would they be too basic, focusing on letter sounds and word formation? Thank you!

    • Gemma Somauroo
      12/03/2019 at 8:41 am (5 years ago)

      Walaykum assalaam Susan. Great question!
      I think the majority of these books would be redundant for a child at that level!
      Instead, I would recommend the readers “Reading Literature” by Free & Treadwell. I think they’ll be the perfect level for your child insha’Allah

  11. Udeni Chathurika
    03/04/2022 at 5:21 am (2 years ago)


  12. Ami
    19/06/2023 at 5:58 pm (12 months ago)

    My son love to buy books but after reading two pages he left reading. He actually want to read small books stories means not long written content. Even he love to read diaries. But he lose interest after reading few pages.


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