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Children's Department - Early Literacy


What is Early Literacy?

Early literacy is what children know about reading or writing before they can actually read or write. Research shows that literacy learning is an ongoing process that begins at birth. The meaningful interactions children have with adults and literacy materials, such as books, at an early age directly affect their development of reading, writing and speaking skills.

Parents play a critical role in helping their children get ready to read . . .
You know and understand your child's skills and abilities, as well as their likes and dislikes. When you play, sing and read with your child, they're not just having fun, they're also learning literacy skills. Making time to read to your child, tell stories, talk about events and sing songs is time well spent!

Six Pre-Reading Skill Areas
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the following six pre-reading skills are the skills your child is learning when you read, play and sing together.

  1. Vocabulary is understanding and recognizing the names of things.
    Tip for Parents: Talk with your child about what's going on around you; emphasize certain words in the books you read.
     
  2. Print motivation is developing an interest in and enjoyment of books.
    Tip for Parents: Read and talk about books with your child.
     
  3. Print awareness is understanding how to hold a book and follow words on a page.
    Tip for Parents: Encourage your child to hold the book and point out the words as you read.
     
  4. Letter knowledge is recognizing that letters look different and have different names and sounds.
    Tip for Parents: Read alphabet books; point to and say the different names of letters.
     
  5. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller parts of words.
    Tip for Parents: Sing songs with your child; add actions to emphasize the smaller parts of the words.
     
  6. Narrative skills are the skills needed to understand and tell stories.
    Tip for Parents: Have your child tell you a story or "read" a book to you.

Library Programs Designed to Promote Early Literacy:

Storytime for Preschoolers and Toddlers
The library hosts two preschool storytime sessions a year (spring and fall). Librarians use books, flannelboard pieces, puppets, fingerplay, and action songs to help develop pre-reading skills. Saturday storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers are held the second Saturday of the month during the school year.

Ready to Read Workshops
Intensive workshops for parents and their preschool-aged children designed to illustrate and teach pre-reading skills.

Board Books and Your Baby
Board books are an excellent choice for your baby. They are just the right size for babies to hold, and the thick, plastic-coated cardboard pages are nearly indestructible.

Many popular titles have been published in board book format, and the library has a wide variety of available titles. Ask a librarian or take a look at our "Books for Babies and Toddlers" brochure for suggestions.

Internet Resources
Early Literacy
First Five Years
Get Ready to Read! 
Grow Up Reading!
Reading is Fundamental
Reading Rockets
Zero to Three

Print Resources
Neuman, Susan Handbook of Early Literacy Research
Dickinson, David Handbook of Early Literacy Research Volume 2
Vukelich, Carol Helping Young Children Learn Language and Literacy
Soderman, Anne Keil Scaffolding Emergent Literacy
Miller, Wilma H.
Strategies for Developing Emergent Literacy