There are a set of basic pre-reading skills that are necessary for reading success, and parents can begin teaching these skills at birth. I recently read an article from the Calgary Herald that laid these skills out in an easy to remember way:
1. "I Like Books" - Motivation/Having Fun Reading
2. "I See Words" - Print Awareness
3. "I Hear Words" - Phonological Awareness
4. "I Know Letters" - Letter Knowledge
5. "I Know Words" - Vocabulary
6. "I Can Tell A Story" - Comprehension/Story Structure Knowledge
I feel that number one on the list is most important. But these are all skills you can easily be helping your child build as you simply spend time reading to them on a daily basis.
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading is reading aloud to children. If an adult they respect and love reads to them regularly, involves them in significant conversation and is seen reading, the child will turn into a really good reader." - Dariel Bateman, a retired principle and executive director of CalgaryReads.