How to Teach a 2 Year Old to Read

Reading is an important part of your child’s healthy development, and parents often ask how to teach a 2 year old to read. At this age, babies grow into children and learn to communicate. You can also expect your 2 year old to assert his will, indicate his preferences and express his personality. Your child may improve his language skills dramatically during this period. You will find him to speak grammatically correct sentences. So you may not find it very difficult to teach your child to read. In this post, we will show you how to teach a 2 year old to read.

Can You Teach a 2 Year Old to Read?

Before we get too far into our guide, let’s tackle a question that’s probably on a lot of people’s minds: Can you teach a 2 year old to read? Is it actually possible?

Obviously, the answer is yes. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be writing this post.

What’s interesting is that there hasn’t been a lot of formal research conducted around such young readers—mostly because there is no big incentive to do so. But recently, there has been more interest in the subject as hundreds of YouTube videos featuring babies and toddlers reading began to go viral.

In an NPR interview with the authors of “Welcome To Your Child’s Brain”, the scientists offer this advice regarding teaching young ones to read:

  • Don’t force it
  • Pay attention to the reading activities your child finds fun
  • Know that every child is different and will learn at their own pace
  • Enjoy the process, and don’t beat yourself up if your child takes longer than expected.

If you are looking for examples of children as young as 2 reading, and want to learn more about a proven process developed for parents like you: Check Out This Video. That features the reading program we consider to be the best available for parents looking to teach their littlest ones to read.

Why Teach a 2 Year Old to Read?

It is not very easy to teach a 2 year old to read. But imagine the situation: your two year old child, who has just learned to speak, can read phonetically. People will look at the child in awe and wonder. With proper knowledge and methods, you can figure out how to teach a 2 year old to read. And if really want to do so, you will have to spend some time. About 15 minutes a day will do.  It may sound easy, but if you are a busy person, finding those quality 15 minutes may not be very easy.

Before you start teaching your child to read, it is a good idea to educate yourself a bit. Try to learn the basics of phonemic awareness. It is not difficult to learn about the sounds represented by different types of spellings, but they are not very easy for a 2 year old kid. Your may even find it challenging to transfer this knowledge to your child. For great results, you must adopt a gradual and sequential process.

And when you know how to teach a 2 year old to read, you will no longer have to worry about his reading disability later on. Your child will not only learn phonics but also grammar.

Read to Your Child

Reading to your child is one of the best things you can do for him. You can read to your child even if he is very young. It will teach your baby to pay undivided attention. This habit can also make the bond between you and your child stronger. Later on, your child will be more likely to have strong language skills. Your baby can recognize your voice even in the womb, so it’s never too early to start reading to him. It is okay to read the same books again and again. What you want is to introduce him to the rhythm of language.

The reading time is a special bonding time. And if you read regularly, your child will develop a love for books. The duration of the reading time is totally up to you. It is a good idea to read a couple of books a day. Here are some types of books you can read to your 2 year old:

  • Board books with pictures
  • Lullabies
  • Song books
  • Cloth books
  • Short story board books
  • Rhyming books

Assess Your Child’s Readiness to Read

It is important to assess if your child is ready to read. There are 4 clues that tell you that your child is ready to learn reading. Here are the clues:


It is useless to motivate your child to read if he is not interested in reading. Before you try to teach him reading, he must be interested in printed words. And how can you create this interest in your child? By reading to him. Figure out which topics your child enjoys, and gather books on the particular topics. To increase your child’s motivation, make story time as interesting as possible.

Print Awareness

Your child will be ready to learn reading once he develops print awareness. Print awareness means understanding the concept that readers read out words by looking at printed letters. If you are looking for how to teach a 2 year old to read, you must make sure that your child understands the concept that letters form words. When a child has print awareness, he can understand the relationship between written language and oral language.

The main aim of print awareness is to make a child understand that printed language, like spoken language, can provide information and enjoyment. Children do not naturally understand how the system of print works. Here is how to teach a 2 year old to read by helping him develop print awareness. For this to happen, the active intervention of adults is necessary.  You can improve your child’s understanding of the concept by reading loudly, pointing your finger at the words, and turning the pages.

With their participation in interactive reading, they can gradually develop this skill. Print awareness also helps children learn other things about books: page numbers, table of content, title etc.

Letter Recognition

Your child must be able to recognize letters before he starts reading. Your child should know how the letter looks and what sound the letter makes. This knowledge helps children once they start spelling and reading.

If your child can recognize the letters during this age, he will be better prepared for school. In order to introduce your child to letters, you can adopt some strategies. Purchase an alphabet chart, draw letters on the floor, and point out the letters when you read. Wondering how to teach a 2 year old to read? Focus on the child’s ability to recognize letters.

Another great way to introduce letters to children is using sandpaper letters. Children trace the letters, using their fingers. As a pre-writing activity, this is amazing.

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness refers to the ability to recognize sounds in words. In a sense, it is the foundation of your child’s reading skills. Your child has developed phonological awareness if he can tune in to the sounds of spoken words. While some children learn it naturally, others need to be taught. If you are looking for how to teach a 2 year old to read, the answer lies, to some extent, in phonological awareness.

Start Teaching Your Child How to Read When They Speak More Clearly

Children usually start to speak pretty clearly around 2 years old. So, this age may be a good time to start your child’s reading lessons. But you can figure out how to teach a 2 year old to read earlier if your child develops his speech earlier.

Although there is no “right’ age for a child to learn how to read, you can start teaching your kid how to read even before he turns 2. But why isn’t there a “right” age? It is simply because the brain is naturally hard-wired to speak or listen, but it is not wired to read, at least not in the same way.

Ask Questions

One way to make your child interact with the book is to ask questions while reading to him. The questions will help him comprehend the content of the text. Again, keep in mind that your aim is not to make your child thoroughly comprehend what you read. You just need to make sure that your child can understand the topic. Ask him questions and give him some time to respond. This interaction with the book will also develop his vocabulary. If you have ever wondered how to teach a 2 year old to read, the answer lies in asking questions.

Sometimes show your child the cover of a book and ask him what he thinks the book is about. And make sure your child can connect to the theme of the book.

Be an Exemplary Reader

Your child’s fascination with books will dwindle quickly if he does not see a reader in the house. So, if you are not a voracious reader, pretend to be one. Every day, try to read for at least a few minutes. Many parents want to know how to teach a 2 year old to read, but they do not like reading. The truth is, you child will not find the joy of reading if he does not see a reader in the house. You can read anything; your aim is to make your child interested in reading. Children like to imitate. Your child will soon learn that adults need to read, and will imitate you. Children are more likely to become avid readers if they find a reader in the house.

Make Use of Multiple Senses

The incorporation of multiple areas of development helps children learn more. This type of teaching results in meaningful application and longer retention. Try to implement activities that require the use of multiple senses. Keep in mind that learning the sounds of letters is more important than learning letter names. So, by involving multiple senses in the process, you can figure out how to teach a 2 year old to read letters.

You can do it in many ways. You can consider alphabet crafts. They can teach your child not only the shapes of letters but also the sounds they represent. A very good way to include movement is to play games that require gross motor skills. Rhymes and songs also deeply appeal to children.

Word Families

Word families help children find patterns in what they read. Working with word families is a type of phonemic awareness activity. It helps children develop their reading skill by grouping sets of letters. A word family has two parts: while the first part is called the onset, the last part is called the rime.  

This is a really good approach because it helps your child recognize one word, and the child finds it easier to learn words having the same rime. For example, if your child recognizes the word “mop”, he will find it easier to read similar words such as cop, hop, stop, pop etc. Here is how to teach a 2 year old to read by introducing him to word families: tell your child a word such as “pen”, and help him find words that rhyme with the given word—such as ten, Ben, men etc.

Identify Patterns

Children have a great capacity for imagination. As we grow older, many of us lose this capacity. Your two year old may look at ordinary things and find patterns there. So, when you teach your child, try to look at things with the eyes of a child. Try to identify letters in natural settings and talk to your child about them. Teach him to spell his name, find the letters in natural settings ask him what he sees.

Sight Words

Sight words help children learn words fast and fluently. In this approach of learning, a child learns to recognize words but do not sound out the letters. Students have to memorize sight words because they may find it hard to decode the words. And whenever they see the words, they can immediately recognize them. This method greatly helps a child develop his vocabulary. And if you want to increase your child’s fluency and speed, you can combine phonics instruction with sight words.

2 Year Old Reading Sight Words? Yes It’s Possible!

You might find it hard to believe that a child as young as two would be able to read words by sight. But it’s not just a joke. And, you’re child doesn’t have to be a genius or a savant to do it. If you want proof, just check out this video of a 2 year old reading sight words and more.

2 year old reading sight words

Sight Words for 2 Year Old – A List of 40 Dolch Sight Words for Preschoolers

If you want to see your 2 year old reading sight words, here is a perfect list to get started with. These 40 come from what is known as the Dolch sight words. The list was created by Dr Edward William Dolch, and they consist of 220 words that Dolch analyzed to make up about 80% of the words encountered in most children’s books.

The 40 listed below are a great place to get started teaching Dolch sight words:

  • a
  • and
  • away
  • big
  • blue
  • can
  • come
  • down
  • find
  • for
  • funny
  • go
  • help
  • here
  • I
  • in
  • is
  • it
  • jump
  • little
  • look
  • make
  • me
  • my
  • not
  • one
  • play
  • red
  • run
  • said
  • see
  • the
  • three
  • to
  • two
  • up
  • we
  • where
  • yellow
  • you

Based on the strategies mentioned above, figure out how to teach a 2 year old to read. Obviously, you will not need all the strategies. But it is a good idea to use a combination of multiple strategies. And no matter how you teach your child to read, make sure you have fun together.


Check out the reading program that is teaching children to read as young as two years old!

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