A few precocious children learn to read at 4. But the norm is for an interest to start at 4 and actual reading to begin at age 5 or even 6 or 7. Before your child can start sounding out words, he needs to begin recognizing letters and understanding that words are read from Left to right. These things sound basic, and they are — they're the foundation every child needs to become a reader.
Before children start reading, they master certain pre-reading skills. Be sure your child's world is nudging him in the right direction:
Create a word-rich environment. The more you read books to your child and engage him in conversation, the more practice he has with language.Point to words as you read. This teaches that words are made of a sequence of letters and go from left to right.
Reinforce the makeup of a book. Point out the title and the name of the author. Ask questions about the illustrations and what's happening in the story. Play matching games. This is good prep since reading also involves matching shapes, letters, and words. Four-year-old favorites: card-matching games like go fish and concentration. Play with rhyme. Of course, before a child can read, he needs to know his letters and their sounds. But more important, he needs to connect the idea that letters match sounds. At this age, you don't need to hammer the fact that the letter h sounds a certain way. Instead, sing rhymes together when you walk, make up your own rhyming songs, or concoct silly nicknames like Hopalong Holliday. It doesn't matter if they're nonsense. What matters is that your child is manipulating sounds.