Fountaindale Public Library District: Five Early Literacy Practices


Did you know that November is National Family Literacy Month?

As library workers, of course, we want to help your children develop a love of reading. As family members, I guess you will too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. But did you know that you can help your child develop their literacy skills by doing more than just reading books? There are five early literacy practices that can be incorporated into your day to help your child grow and develop.

Read all the books! Reading with your child is one of the best ways to help your child develop their love of reading. Of course, picture books are great because pictures help contextualize the words that are being read. But you can also read books with longer chapters to your young child. This will expose your child to even more vocabulary words and experiences. It will also help with attention, listening comprehension and is a great way to bond.

To sing

Singing slows down language and breaks words down into syllables, making them easier to understand. It doesn’t even have to be a “real” song. Just add a singing melody to what you say to your child. When my children were young I was very embarrassed by singing because I am not a strong singer. But a friend once told me something that has stood out for me all these years. She said, “It’s not about the way you sound, it’s about the experience and memories you create. For your child, you have the best voice in the world. So sing!


Talking helps your child learn new words and increase their vocabulary. This in turn will help them become better readers. Say, for example, you talk about all the fruits and vegetables you see when you’re at the grocery store, label them by name, and talk about the different qualities of each. Fast-forward several years until your child reads a new story in class. When they come up with a word like cantaloupe or asparagus, if they had never been exposed to that word before, they might be able to pronounce the word but have no idea what the word means. But if they heard you talking about it at the store, the minute they read that word, they’ll be able to imagine it in their head, improving their reading comprehension.


This one is dear to me because I was a certified occupational therapy assistant for 16 years before changing careers and coming to work in the library. When most people think of writing, they probably think of using pencil on paper to write letters, words, and sentences. But writing is much more than that, especially when it comes to children from 0 to 5 years old. Just about anything a child does with their body since birth helps them develop skills they will need to be a writer as they age. Would you believe it if I told you that tummy time is one of the first things you can do to build the muscles you need to write? I could write an entire article just on that! I could also go on for days on how today’s kids are given pencils and are expected to write letters far too early in the developmental process. Scribbling and drawing are the start of early writing skills. But there are so many ways to do it without using pencil and paper. Use a variety of sensory materials, like shaving cream, finger paints, or a rice platter, and have your child use their fingers to draw lines and shapes.

To play

Playing helps children develop their imaginations. Children learn problem solving, cooperation, cause and effect relationships, and improve fine and gross motor skills. You don’t need to have expensive toys or an elaborate setup. Just take whatever you have in the room and follow your child’s lead. You can use old clothes for dressing, blocks or small boxes for construction, plastic bowls, and utensils for pretending to play. As your child tells their play, they learn to be storytellers.

You might be looking at this thought, Oh great, now they want me to add FIVE more things to my already stretched thin day. But it doesn’t have to be a huge production. You can combine some of them and do them at the same time! In fact, I’m sure you already do some of these things. Now I encourage you to do them with a little more intention so that you can help boost your child’s development and love of reading.

This press release was produced by Fountaindale Public Library District. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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