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Raise Your Child to be a Reader

It's never too early to start reading to kids! You are your child's first teacher and primary role model. You can begin helping your child develop early literacy skills at birth.

What is Early Literacy?

Early literacy is everything a child knows about reading, writing, and language before he or she actually learns to read or write. Children get ready to read long before they start school. Experts have identified six essential early literacy skills that help prepare children to learn to read and write. Early literacy does not mean early reading instruction, but rather emphasizes the natural development of skills. There are a variety of fun and simple activities you can do with your child to nurture early literacy development and promote a lifelong love of reading.

Click on the skills listed below for fun ideas and simple tips on how to read, sing, talk, write, and play while promoting the development of early literacy skills.

Being interested in and enjoying books

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Print Motivation:

  • Make reading fun!
  • Spend time reading every day. Make reading part of your daily routine.
  • Read books that both you and your child enjoy.
  • Share books when you and your child are in a good mood.
  • Let your child see you enjoying reading. Children like to do what you do!
  • Make book sharing a special time. Snuggle up in a comfortable spot while sharing stories.
  • Always keep book sharing positive, stop reading if your child loses interest or becomes fussy.
  • Make books available and accessible for your child to explore. Choose sturdy board books designed especially for babies.
  • Reread favorite books often.
  • Let your child choose books they are interested in.
  • Keep books with you throughout the day so you can read anytime.

Noticing print everywhere, understanding that print has meaning, and knowing how a book works

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Print Awareness:

  • Read books with your child.
  • Let your child help turn the pages while you read.
  • Occasionally point to words as you read them aloud.
  • Print is everywhere! Point out signs to your child and read them.
  • Begin reading a book by stating the title, author, and illustrator. Talk about how authors make the words for books and illustrators make the pictures.
  • Label objects in your house and point to them throughout the day.
  • From time to time hold a book upside down to see if your child notices and corrects you. If not, correct it yourself.

Knowing the difference between letters and that specific sounds go with specific letters

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Letter Knowledge:

  • Play with shapes. Children learn by touching and exploring.
  • Talk about things that are the same and different when playing.
  • Point out shapes around you.
  • Read books about shapes.
  • Share ABC books and songs with your child.
  • Play with letters! Keep magnetic letters on the fridge, foam letters in the bathtub, play with block letters, and more.
  • Look for your child's first letter in his or her name and point it out anywhere you find it.
  • Help your child write his or her name and other familiar words.
  • Play with simple puzzles.
  • Let your child scribble or practice writing a few letters.

Hearing and playing with the smaller sounds that make up words

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Phonological Awareness:

  • Share nursery rhymes with your child.
  • Sing and dance together! Songs help children to hear the smaller parts that make up words.
  • Make up silly words that rhyme: milk, pilk, tilk, filk, rilk.
  • Read rhyming books.
  • Point out objects that all start with the same sound around the house: ball, bowl, blanket, bear.
  • Talk about and make different animal sounds.

Describing things and events and understanding and telling stories

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Narrative Skills:

  • Talk to your child! Explain what you are doing and why you are doing it throughout the day.
  • Ask your child open ended questions.
  • Read stories without words and talk about the pictures.
  • Have your child retell a familiar story.
  • Let your child draw and tell you what is going on in the picture.
  • Read a favorite story several times and let your child tell you what happens next.
  • Ask your child about his or her day.

Knowing the names of things and understanding the meaning of words

Tips for parents and caregivers to strengthen Vocabulary:

  • Talk to your child! Explain what you are doing throughout the day. Talk to your child while diapering, shopping, and doing other daily routines.
  • Ask your child open ended questions.
  • Explain unfamiliar words.
  • Look for opportunities to help build your child's vocabulary. If your child points and says "flower", you could say, "Yes, that is a tulip."
  • Read books! Books often use rich language and expose children to more new words than conversation.

Raise your child to be a reader by bringing them to story time at Bloomington Library! Story times are designed to be a fun learning experience to foster the development of your child's early literacy skills. Learn more about our story times by visiting our Story Time section and see a full list of programs by visiting our Programs section.

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