Early Literacy

Why is early literacy so important?
“The single most important way to help children become good readers is to read to them – even when they are infants.” – Diane Ravitch, Professor and consultant

“Among students classified as ‘active’ or ‘moderate’ readers, more than 2/3 said their parents read to them every day when they were younger…” – survey by Peter Hart Research Associates, reported in School Library Journal, Jan. 1994, p. 17.

“The relationship between the skills with which children enter school and their later academic performance is strikingly stable. For instance, research has shown that there is nearly a 90% probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of the first grade. Further, knowledge of alphabet letters at entry into kindergarten is a strong predictor of reading ability in 10th grade.” – Ready to Learn, A Mandate for the Nation

“Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90% of their eventual adult weight.” – Raising Readers

“Reading to a child for 30 minutes per day from infancy helps prepare a child to learn. A five-year-old who has not been read to daily will enter kindergarten with far fewer hours of ‘literacy nutrition’ than a child who has been read to daily from infancy. No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours.” – Raising Readers

“There is a positive relationship between how much children have been read to and how well they will read. Children’s early experiences with children’s books are among the most significant correlates with their success in learning to read in school.” – Ready to Learn, A Mandate for the Nation

What is early (or emergent) literacy?
Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write.
What are the main components of early literacy?

Print Motivation - child’s interest in and enjoyment of books

Phonological Awareness - the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words

Vocabulary - knowing the names of things

Print Awareness - noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, knowing how we follow the words on a page

Letter Knowledge - knowing that letters are different from each other, that they have different names and sounds

Narrative Skills - the ability to describe things and events, and to tell stories
What are some other important early literacy terms?

Dialogic Reading – a method that helps young children become involved in the story by asking open-ended questions and expanding what your child says

Literacy Tips by Age
What are some early literacy tips for my pre- or early talker (newborns to two-year-olds)?
Vocabulary
  • talk to your baby constantly
  • listen to your baby and answer his/her babbles
  • read to your baby every day
  • point to the pictures and name them
Print Motivation
  • make reading time very special time between the two of you
  • bring your toddler to the library
  • let them play with books even if they only mouth them
  • a few happy minutes is better than an unhappy long time spent together
Print Awareness
  • let them touch and hold board books and cloth books
  • point to the words when you read them
Narrative Skills
  • tell stories
  • listen to your child’s stories
  • repeat their favorite stories as much as they want
Phonological Awareness
  • teach your child nursery rhymes
  • sing lots of songs and use actions with the songs
Letter Knowledge
  • show your child the differences between shapes
  • read simple alphabet books
  • talk about things that are the same and different
What are some early literacy tips for my talker (two- and three-year-olds)?
Vocabulary
  • talk to your child constantly
  • add vocabulary to your child’s sentences
  • read together every day
Print Motivation
  • make reading a very special activity between the two of you
  • read your own books where your child can see you
  • take your child to the library often
Print Awareness
  • read the print that surrounds us every day
  • point to the words that you read
  • ask your child to hold the book and turn the pages
  • see if your child turns an upside down book right side up
Narrative Skills
  • tell stories
  • ask your child to tell you stories (it could be about what they did today)
  • repeat their favorite stories as much as they want
  • ask your child to “read” a favorite book to you
Phonological Awareness
  • teach your child nursery rhymes
  • sing lots of songs and use actions with the songs
  • play word games that involve rhyming etc.
  • (see the Between the Lions website at http://pbskids.org/lions/)
Letter Knowledge
  • show your child the differences between shapes
  • read simple alphabet books
  • talk about things that are the same and different
  • show your child his/her name especially the first letter
  • play with clay or magnetic letters
Dialogic Reading
  • ask open-ended questions
  • follow their answers with more questions
  • repeat and expand your child’s answers
What are some early literacy tips for my pre-reader (three- to five-year-olds)?
Vocabulary
  • talk to your child constantly
  • add vocabulary to your child’s sentences
  • read together every day
  • read some non-fiction together
Print Motivation
  • make reading a very special activity between the two of you
  • read your own books where your child can see you
  • take your child to the library often
Print Awareness
  • read the print that surrounds us every day
  • point to the words that you read
  • ask your child to hold the book and turn the pages
  • see if your child turns an upside down book right side up
Narrative Skills
  • tell stories to your child
  • ask your child to tell you stories (it could be about what they did today)
  • ask your child to tell a favorite book to you
  • ask open-ended questions about the book
  • add to your child’s sentences
  • relate your child’s experiences to the story
Phonological Awareness
  • say rhymes and read poetry together
  • sing lots of songs
  • play word games that involve rhyming, compound words etc. (see the Between the Lions website at http://pbskids.org/lions/ )
Letter Knowledge
  • show your child the differences between letters
  • read alphabet books
  • write out your child’s name
  • play with clay or magnetic letters
  • point out letters around you everyday
  • write out your child’s favorite words
All of the above from Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library, a research project collaborated on by the Pubic Library Association, the Association for Library Service to Children, and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

Where can I find more early literacy information?
Websites

Library Materials
Selected Titles:
The Between the lions book for parents : everything you need to know to help your child learn to read / Linda K. Rath and Louise Kennedy ; with a foreword by Christopher Cerf
Read it aloud! : a parent’s guide to sharing books with young children / Monty Haas & Laurie Joy Haas
The Secret of Natural Readers: How Preschool Children Learn to Read / Anbar, Ada
Do you know the muffin man? : an essential preschool literacy resource / Pam Schiller and Thomas Moore.
Literacy from Day One / Pat Battett Dragan
Simple Steps: Developmental Activities for Infants, Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds / Karen Miller
Stories, songs, and poetry to teach reading and writing : literacy through language / Robert A. McCracken and Marlene J. McCracken

For more titles, please search the library catalog under Subject: Reading — Parent participation or Subject: Literacy, or ask a children’s librarian for help.

Good Beginning Books
Mt. Lebanon Library booklists: