Early Literacy

Here Comes Rosie

What IS Early Literacy?

Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write. Research shows children begin to learn about reading from the day they are born. YOU can help your child learn important readiness skills now so that your child can become a good reader.

Parents Are the Best Teachers to Get Their Children Ready to Read 

  • You are your child’s first and most important teacher.
  • You know your child best.
  • Children are most ready to learn when they are in a good mood. You know your child’s moods best.
  • Children learn best by doing things, so take every chance you can to read with your children, tell and talk about stories, say nursery rhymes and sing songs.

Five Early Literacy Practices Young Children Need

"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the preschool years." From Becoming a Nation of Readers


Talking is a way for children to learn about language. Children who have been spoken to a lot have a large vocabulary. This helps them later to understand what they read and to recognizewords they try to sound out. By telling stories and stretching conversations children learn new words, how to express themselves, and how to have a conversation.

  • Talk with your child about what is going on around you. Talk about feelings, yours and your child’s.
  • When your child talks with you, comment and add more details.
  • Speak in the language that is most comfortable for you.
  • Ask a variety of questions (who, what, why, when, how, what if, where) about the pictures in the book.


Playing is how children learn about themselves and their world. It helps children practice putting their thoughts into words and think symbolically. Children need the support of adults who understand the value of play and recognize that play is learning. 

  • Encourage your child to play using imagination.
  • Provide a variety of materials and toys that can be used in more than one way, such as blocks, play dough, or blank paper that will encourage your child to plan, explore, observe, and create.
  • Get creative yourself! If you think it’s fun, so will your child! Play is how children practice becoming adults.


Reading helps children become interested in and enjoy books. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves. Listening to stories builds listening skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.

  • Read to your child daily. Get a library card and use it often!
  • Talk about print in your environment while reading stories together. Talk about letters or words on signs in the neighborhood, on a shirt, or on a cereal box.
  • Let your child take a turn “reading” a page of a favorite story.
  • Have a variety of materials – books, magazines, newspaper ads, phone books, recipes, shopping lists – and show how they are used and enjoyed in your daily life.
  • Talk about the name of each letter and the specific sounds that go with specific letters.


Writing is a way to represent spoken words and communicate information. Scribbling and drawing are early forms of writing – they mean something to your child. They also help your child develop the small motor skills needed to hold and control a pencil to form letters.

  • Encourage all types of writing, including scribbling and drawing. Ask your child to tell you about it.
  • Practice writing by tracing letters in sand or shaving cream.
  • Strengthen finger muscles by playing with play dough, stringing beads, lacing, using tongs to pick things up, or crumpling newspaper.


Singing is a fun way for children to use language and learn new words. It allows children to hear different sounds in words and learn about syllables and rhyming. These are important pre-reading skills.

  • Sing with your child. Share songs and rhymes from your childhood. Kids love to hear what you sang when you were their age.
  • Make up silly songs by changing the words to a familiar tune and challenge your child to do the same.
  • Use songs to do tasks around the house (Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere…).