Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write. Every Child Ready to Read® is a national early literacy initiative that has identified five practices parents and caregivers can use to support the six literacy skills every child needs in order to learn to read.
Early Literacy Best Practices
Incorporate these practices into your everyday routine to encourage the important early language, literacy, and social-emotional skills all children need.
- Reading with your child is the single most important activity to help them get ready to read.
- Talking introduces children to oral language and will help them understand what they will later read and write.
- Singing slows down language so children can hear the smaller sounds of words and introduces words not typically used in conversation.
- Writing represents spoken language and begins with the development of children’s fine and gross motor skills.
- Playing helps develop oral language and valuable social-emotional skills.
Early Literacy Skills
These six skills are the foundation of a child’s early literacy learning. You can easily support these skills by using the Best Practices above!
- Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
- Vocabulary is knowing the names of things, concepts, and feelings.
- Print Awareness is understanding the role of print in everyday life: noticing print, knowing how to handle a book, realizing the way we follow words on a page.
- Print Motivation is a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. We want your child to love reading!
- Letter Knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other. This skill begins with shape and color recognition.
- Narrative Skills give a child the ability to comprehend and describe their reading.
Tips for Reading with Young Children
Above all, you want to create a positive experience when sharing books with your child. Keep these tips in mind whenever you read together.
- Have fun! Use different voices, actions, facial expressions, songs, and props to bring the story to life.
- Snuggle up. Hold your child closely in your lap or right next to you. Include a favorite blanket, stuffed toy, or other comfort item.
- Talk about it. Point out things in the pictures, and ask questions about the story. Don’t be afraid to stray from the text and encourage your child to add their own ideas.
- Remain flexible. It’s okay to skip pages, read from back to front, just look at pictures, or not finish the book.
- Be prepared. Keep books close at hand—throughout your home, in your diaper bag, in the car—so you can take advantage of even a few minutes of book sharing time.