Children learn many skills as they listen. Listening is the first step your child takes in making literacy connections. Educators call this "emergent reading." Just as you supported your infant before they could walk, you are supporting their reading abilities by reading to them until they can do it on their own. You are increasing their interest in the printed word, building vocabulary, and encouraging exploration.
Understanding your child's learning strength is essential in helping them begin to read. Reading to your child can help you determine their best method of learning. Most children use a combination of visual, listening and tactile senses to learn. However, usually one of these senses is dominant.
If your child is a visual learner, he will probably focus on the pictures in the story. One of the best ways to help this child learn to read is to have him pay attention to the picture clues. Sounding out words can become easier if there is a visual clue to match the print.
If your child learns best by listening, she is probably an auditory learner. She might revisit the same story again and again, because she recalls the words. "She's not really reading, she's just memorized the story" is a concern I often hear from parents. This is a good thing! She is making an auditory connection to the printed word, and will start to sound out what she is seeing.
If your child is a "hands-on" learner you may want to share books that have a tactile component like: "Pat the Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt, or "The Very Busy Spider" by Eric Carle. Holding the book and having textures to touch will help this child connect the printed word to what they are touching.
Knowing how your child learns can help improve their reading skills, increase comprehension, and foster a "life-long" love of reading!