The majority of people know and agree that it is important to read to children. If this is put into regular practice the results show up before the age of two. These youngsters will bring you books to read for them. At the age of two to two and a half, they will try to tell the story to you. How cute is that!!!
A good practice when reading with your child is to track the words with your fingers. It is instinctual, for most children to want to track from right to left, but in English, they must learn to track from left to right. Hold your finger above the first word on the first line, and track across from there. This method does not hide the lines under the first. The child can see that there are more words and lines to come, has an easier time dropping to the next line and eventually may read quicker than your finger is following. Having your finger above the line does not impede with this process.
My mother, being a prolific reader of good books, modeled for me the love of reading. It taught me spelling, sentence structure, language skills, exposure to new words, knowledge and understanding. I never realized the benefit of this until I was in grade nine. In that grade, here in Alberta, we must write provincial exams and I scored extremely high in literature. This dawning for me as to the importance of reading, influenced me in allowing my own children to be readers. How, you may ask? Well, sometimes reading was put before chores. Allowing a child to read after bedtime, instead of a strict rule of lights out.
I worked in the public school system, in Alberta, for 20 years. I often worked with children who were challenged or non-readers. It is impossible to do well in any subject in school (math, science, story writing, social studies, etc) if one cannot read. Not doing well in school often leads to poor self-esteem. In my own opinion, the very best thing you can do for any child is to help them be proficient readers.