Can 5-Year-Olds Read? Should They?

Can a 5-year-old read and truly understand what the words on the page in front of them mean? What should you do if your 5-year-old isn’t interested in reading by this time?

Five-year-olds can read if they’re encouraged to do so at a very young age. To encourage your child to read by age 5, let them see how fun reading can be by watching you read for pleasure. Give them interactive books and help your child have fun while reading.

This article will help you discover where your child should be reading-wise by age 5. We will also cover what you can do if your child doesn’t seem interested in reading.

Why Kids Are Able To Read at Age 5

According to, five is the crucial age for supporting a child’s reading skills. If you remember being in kindergarten, you’ll remember identifying letters, matching letters to sounds, and recognizing how words sound at the beginning and end.

I remember having those worksheets with each letter and practicing saying the letter as I practiced writing it.

Five is the age where a child will start to grasp how books are read, meaning they’ll read it top-to-bottom and left-to-right. However, if you live in a country where your books read back-to-front and right-to-left, then this rule changes.

So if you see your kiddo reading upside down, flip that book right side up.

If you’re worried that they might not want you to read to them anymore at this age, put those worries aside. Your five-year-old will still want you or their teacher to read to them. But if they ever want to read to you, let them because it will be a great way to build up their confidence.

With all the new words and stories they’re consuming, they may even start telling stories of their own. So by setting a good example, you’re setting your child up for reading success.

Why a Child Might Not Be Reading By Age 5

Five is the age when your child will become more independent.

According to, not only will their reading and language skills start to develop, but so will their physical and emotional skills. It can be an exciting and challenging time for both parent and child as things start to change.

So how do these changes affect your child’s ability to read?

A five-year-old can feel embarrassed quickly. So if you’ve noticed your child is struggling to read and gets upset when they mess up a word, that could be a big reason they aren’t reading. The fear of being singled out and made fun of is constant for a child, so your kiddo will do anything they can to avoid that.

Sadly, parents cannot be with their children 24/7 and cannot protect them from the cruelty of the world. But you can work with them to improve their reading by reading to them or using flashcards that have their struggle words on them.

Some children aren’t reading because they haven’t found a book they like.

If your son or daughter has a specific interest, they probably won’t want to read about anything else. So if your child enjoys learning about animals, getting them some books on animals could be what they need to start reading other books.

You’ll want to pay attention to what they like and purchase books with that in mind. All it takes is one good book to make a child love reading.

Ways To Make Reading Fun

One of the most fun parts about having a young child is that there are countless ways to make learning fun for them.

Reading is one of those skills that can feel boring or daunting to a child who has no interest in books or has a learning disability. Thankfully, there are various ways that you can make this task less tedious and daunting for your kiddo.

Make Your Child Laugh

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for a small child, this is true.

That’s why they gravitate toward cartoons or silly YouTube videos that make no sense to adults. So if you’ve noticed your child feeling lackluster with the books they’re reading, try finding one that will make them laugh.

Finding a book with a silly cover or their favorite cartoon character on it is an excellent place to start.

Make Connections

Choosing books that connect to your child’s life can add some fun while you’re reading. While reading the book, you can point out the connections and give some backstory on that connection.

Making connections keeps your child engaged and helps them more about their families. Reading is a great way to connect with people, so why not make it personal for your child?

Be an Example

Leading by example is a great way to get your child to read. If it’s a Sunday morning and they see you sitting on the couch enjoying a book, they’ll probably want to join in on the fun too.

Taking some time to talk to your child about what you’re reading can be effective. If they see how much fun reading is for you, they’ll see it as a fun activity and want to do it more often. Leading by example is an easy way to get them to do something without telling them to do so.

Give Them Interactive Books

Interactive books on their favorite subjects can make reading fun. Imagine how much fun your little one will have if they’re reading about dinosaurs and they can press a button that will make the dinosaur roar. They are sure to squeal with delight and want to keep reading.

Reading is enjoyable and immersive, and interactive books aid in that.

Just make sure you put those books away at bedtime because they can be stimulating and make it hard for the kiddo to sleep.


As we have seen in this article, 5-year-olds can read. It may be a struggle for some more than others, but once they discover the joy of reading, they’ll never want to stop. So enjoy the reading journey with your child; it’ll be a great bonding experience for you both.

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