Emergent literacy begins at a very young age. When babies turn pages in books, when toddlers scribble on paper, and when preschoolers recognize signs and logos are all part of emergent literacy. It is very important to begin reading when your child is very young. Research has linked early exposure to books and stories to learning to read and to academic success.
Reading to your child is linked to increased language and literacy skills. You can find more about the research here. Children are exposed to wide variety of words through books that they would not learn through typical conversation. In addition to language and literacy growth, book sharing is a great bonding time with your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading daily to your child beginning at six months of age. It is good to try to read together for fifteen minutes each day. According to a study from the National Commission on Reading, reading aloud to children is the single most important intervention for developing literacy skills.
How do you read to a baby? Use simple picture books with few words. Good book choices for babies include Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, and Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. While book sharing, talk about the pictures. Use different voices or sing to increase attention during reading time.
Engage your preschool or elementary age child in the reading. Let the child have choices in choosing the reading source. Be expressive when you read stories. Talk about what you are reading. Ask what will the story be about, what will happen next, how does the character feel, what was your favorite part of the story, etc. Let him/her “read” to you. This will help build self-esteem and confidence.
Some of my favorite children’s books include: Pete the Cat Series, Llama Llama series, Dr. Suess books, David Shannon books, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, Down By The Cool Of The Pool, Hush, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, My Friend Rabbit, The Giving Tree.
Offer a variety of reading sources for your child. Some of my children’s favorite books are science books about space and weather. Picture books, magazines, encyclopedias, are all great reading sources. Put children’s books where your child can easily access them.
There are inexpensive ways to increase your child’s library. Lego offers a free children’s magazine. Scholastic offers $1-2 books. You can check out several books at a time at your local library. Your library and local bookstores should also offer story times geared for your child’s age group too.
Go have fun reading with your favorite little ones!