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Supporting reading in Year 4 (Age 8-9)


In Year 4 (in England) or Primary 5 (in Scotland), your child will be developing into an increasingly fluent reader. The focus will now be on building comprehension, but it is still important that children use their phonics skills to tackle new words.

How to help at home

There are plenty of simple and effective ways you can help your child with reading in Year 4/Primary 5.

Listen to your child reading and read to your child

At this age, your child might prefer to read independently and it’s tempting to leave them to it. But listening to them read is still a worthwhile thing to do. We all know how easy it is to read something without actually taking in the information! When you listen to your child read, you can help your child with any unfamiliar words and can talk to them about the book to make sure that they understand.

Reading to them is still important too. Reading to your child means that they will be able to hear books they might not yet be able to read themselves, it increases the vocabulary and life experiences and can foster empathy. Sharing and talking about books is also a lovely way to spend time together!

For books to read with your child, take a look at our free eBook library.

Listen to audiobooks

Listening to an audiobook together can work well (even better when it is played from the hallowed tablet or smart phone). It can also make an excellent use of all that time spent in the car and can create a shared experience for all. You can use audio books to introduce a wider range of books to your child. You could look for books read by favourite actors.

Value your child's choices

It’s really important to value your child’s choices, even when a book looks too easy or too difficult, too silly or too similar to other books they have read. Children can often read books that initially appear to be too difficult (especially if it is a topic that interests them) or fall back on a familiar favourite.

If they’ve chosen a tricky book, support them with new vocabulary. If they have chosen an old favourite, be reassured that they will be developing comprehension skills and confidence. Try to use their interests to steer them to a new challenge.

Open up the world of reading

Help your child to read widely. Books, magazines, websites, and apps all show how reading can help you to follow your interests and get involved. Show your child websites (check them first and monitor later), books, and magazines that link to their hobbies – whether it’s swimming, football, dance, music, art, or something else entirely.

Make a word bookmark

Using a piece of paper as a bookmark, encourage your child to jot down words they don’t understand. They can do this when they read on their own or if you’re reading together and they don’t want to stop. After reading, try looking up the words together in a dictionary and talk about what they mean.

Read for a purpose

As well as reading for pleasure, your child is likely to need to read for particular purposes in Year 4/Primary 5. They will read to find information, to learn about something, or to answer questions. Practising this can be useful for success at school.

Help them with their research skills by talking about where to look to find the answers, although you may need to remind them to look in books and use the library as well as the internet. Children can struggle with information overload, so they need your help to ‘search and sift’ both sites and information to make decisions.

Don't give up

As your child reads read more difficult books, there might be times when they struggle and may be reluctant to continue. You can help them through those patches by reading a bit with them to get them started or hooked into the next chapter. Always balance this with sensitivity and valuing their choice – it’s got to be fun!

image of children clustered around a tablet reading

Free eBook Library

Find a huge selection of books to encourage your child to read in our free eBook library. Take a look >