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When should you teach your child to read in German?

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by Sarah Mueller

Do you remember when you first learned to read?

I don’t, but I have enjoyed watching my children learn.

When a person learns to read, something magical happens. It’s like a whole new world is opened up to them; a world that was always there but that they never noticed.

All of a sudden, they are reading street signs and cereal boxes, perhaps picking up books and taking a new interest in magazines and the mail. There is information all around them and they see it with new eyes, wanting to take it all in and make it theirs just by reading.

It’s an exciting time for a child!

 ABC Blocks

If you want your child to be fully bilingual and biliterate, you will want him to be able to read in German.

Basic reading skills are a necessity if one wishes to travel comfortably in a German-speaking country and if your child wishes to communicate with German relatives and friends or read fun and exciting German literature, he’ll need to go beyond a basic comprehension.

Reading in German can interest and motivate your child to further his German study.

Literary works are usually best enjoyed in their original language. Once you’ve started Tintenherz (Inkheart) in German, you’ll find it just isn’t the same in English. There are many wonderful German authors and when your child can read them on his own, a whole world will be opened up to him. There’s only so much time in the day for read-aloud, don’t you think?

At what age should I start teaching my child to read?

That depends on the child. The most important thing to look for is signs of reading readiness. These signs are the same for English or German. Some children are ready to read at age 4 while some are not truly ready until age 8 (although unfortunately the school system will likely not let them wait that long).

Here’s what to look for:

Your child asking.

This is the most obvious sign. If your child is asking to learn to read, go for it! But be aware that his interest may wax and wane. If he wants to practice reading one day but is not interested the next, don’t take it personally. Many young children express interest, but aren’t ready to put in the effort it takes. You don’t want to squash his enthusiasm by making him work too hard if he’s young and not quite ready. It’s better to stop a lesson early rather than have a frustrated kid on your hands.

Another sign of reading readiness is your child recognizing letters and sou