Five easy tips to help a child’s reading progress from the leading child language expert

We’re back with more amazing reading tips for kids from David Crystal – one of the world’s leading authorities on child language and the English language!

“Reading is essential for vocabulary acquisition and learning in children. Apps like Pickatale are a great supplement to reading physical books.” David Crystal

David Crystal’s unrivalled knowledge and expertise has been helping parents and grown-ups understand children’s literacy development for years!

David gave us five amazing tips to help a child’s reading progress and develop. Read on to learn more from the man himself!


Five tips to help a child’s reading progress by David Crystal

Any new skill will develop well if the learning conditions are right. And for reading, that means avoiding distractions. The slightest thing can be distracting, at any age.

Repeated exposure
Have a ‘book of the day’, a ‘word of the day’ or a ‘letter of the day’. With online books, touching something that is pictured can bring up its name and its sound, as in the Pickatale app. In all cases, the aim is to promote letter or word recognition and to provide reinforcement through repetition in a playful and gentle way.

Make a noise check
If you’re reading aloud, make sure the child can listen to what you say without distracting noise. Is there a TV or radio on in the background? Are other children around playing – or just wanting to help? Is there a cat purring or a budgerigar chirping? Is there noise from passing traffic? Identify the quieter times for reading aloud.

Make a vision check
Distraction can be visual as well as auditory. A favourite toy or game that is visible can be enough to start a young reader’s attention wandering. If there’s a pet in the home, keep it out of sight. The mere presence of a mobile phone nearby can be enough to distract a reader of any age. Mind-wandering is the ever-present risk when learning to read. Reading aloud is the best way of minimising it.

Paying attention
Adult listeners can themselves be a distraction – cooking, knitting, texting, or fixing a broken toy while the child is reading. Encourage your child to choose a book for story time – the Pickatale app has over 1,700+ children’s books in its digital library – then give your child and their chosen book your full attention. If you show that you are finding the story interesting and exciting, the child will too.

Bring in the cavalry
Who helps? In a word: everyone. Everyone who is part of a household, that is. Leave behind the old notion that reading with a child is something that only one person does. Anyone can help – relatives, older children, child-minders, visitors… Most people are delighted if asked to read something – and some turn out to be surprisingly good at it.


Keep your eyes peeled on the Pickatale blog for more insightful articles from David Crystal, which will be coming soon! You’ll discover more fascinating information about how children begin to speak, how and when they build up their vocabulary, how speaking and reading come hand-in-hand and so much more!

David Crystal is one of the world’s leading authorities on child language