Early literacy

Every child ready to read!

Worthington Libraries can help your child get ready to read. Learn more about early literacy practices and get ideas for easy activities that you and your child can enjoy throughout the day— at home, in the car or anywhere you and your child spend time together.

What is early literacy?

Baby readingEarly literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write.

Children who enter kindergarten with pre-reading skills have an advantage. They can focus on learning to read instead of first learning essential pre-reading skills, and they have greater success throughout their school years.

You have been your child's teacher from the day he or she was born. It's never too early or too late to help your child develop language and other early literacy skills. Here are five of the best ways for children to get ready to read.

Talking

Why talking is important

Father talking to babyChildren learn language and other literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk.

How to encourage talking

Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.

  • Respond to what your child says and extend the conversation. "Yes, we did see a truck like that last week. It's called a bulldozer."
  • Stretch your child's vocabulary. Repeat what your child says and use new words. "You want a banana? That's a very healthy choice."
  • If English isn't your first language, speak to your child in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn more.

Looking for more ways to encourage talking?

  • When you see a birthday cake, ask your child to tell you about a birthday party they recently attended. Or, ask them about what they want to do at their next birthday party. Talk to them about what they did during the day, or what is happening on their favorite television show.
  • Instead of pointing out "flowers," call them dandelions, violets or daisies. Look through a box of crayons and identify different shades of a color. Point to and name various body parts.
  • Let your child tell you about pictures in a book, or retell a story with dolls, puppets or props.
  • Ask children to find particular letters in books or while you are running errands. Ask them to find the letter at the beginning of their name.

Books

Encourage talking with these books.

Babies

Toddlers

Pre-school

Rhymes, songs and stories

Encourage talking with this story.

Singing

Why singing is important

Man playing guitar with childrenSongs are a wonderful way to learn about language. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words.

How to encourage singing

Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.

  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters.
  • Sing nursery rhymes so children hear different sounds in different words.
  • Clap along to the rhythms in songs so children hear the syllables in words.

Looking for more ways to encourage singing?

Books

Encourage singing with these books.

Babies

Toddlers

Preschool

Rhymes, songs and stories

Reading

Why reading is important

Boy reading a bookReading together— shared reading— is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. It increases vocabulary and general knowledge, and helps children develop an interest in learning to read themselves.

How to encourage reading

Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.

  • Read every day.
  • Make shared reading interactive. Look at the cover and predict what the book is about. Have your child turn the pages. Ask questions as you read and listen to what your child says. Ask your child to retell the story.
  • Use books to help teach new words. As you read, talk about what new words mean.

Looking for more ways to encourage reading?

  • Keep books in a toy box or on a low shelf so they are easily accessible to your child.
  • Hold a book upside down and see if your child knows what is wrong.
  • Point to words as you read them.
  • Choose books on topics that interest your child.
  • Find a time to read when you and your child will both enjoy it.

Books

Encourage reading with these books.

Babies

Toddlers

Preschool

Rhymes, songs and stories

Encourage reading with these stories.

Writing

Why writing is important

Girl writing on chalkboardReading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information.

How to encourage writing

Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.

  • Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities to draw and write.
  • Children can "sign" their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words.
  • Talk to your children about what they have drawn and write captions or stories together.

Looking for more ways to encourage writing?

  • Set up a space where your child can use pencils, crayons, washable markers or chalk.
  • Help your child find the letters of their names around the house or when you go to the store.
  • Use magnet letters on your refrigerator to write a message or their names.
  • Ask your child to add to your grocery list or help cross off an item on your "to do" list.

Books

Encourage writing with these books.

Babies

Toddlers

Preschool

Rhymes, songs and stories

Encourage writing with these rhymes and songs.

Playing

Why playing is important

Children playing at flannelboardChildren learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children express themselves, put thoughts into words and understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences.

How to encourage play

Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.

  • Give your child plenty of playtime, especially unstructured playtime.
  • Encourage dramatic play, which is when children make up stories using puppets or stuffed animals.
  • Pretend to read a book by having your child tell you a story based on the pictures in a book, or ask your child to "read" a book you've read together many times and tell you the story.

Looking for more ways to encourage play?

  • Tell your child stories from your own childhood.
  • Provide simple props, such as puppets, stuffed animals or boxes to help your child act out stories.
  • Old clothing is a fun way for your child to play dress up and act out situations and stories.
  • Make a book by clipping pictures from old magazines; your child can tell an imaginary tale using the photos you collect together.
  • Encourage your child to tell a story about a favorite event or act it out for you.

Books

Encourage play with these books and activities.

Babies

Toddlers

Preschool

Rhymes, songs and stories

Encourage play with these rhymes and songs.