Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. Literacy is like growing, it happens slowly over time.
Reading and writing go together. Writing helps your child get ready to read.
Printed words surround us. Our children watch us jot down a grocery list, read signs on the way to the store and compare labels on products before buying.
It takes time for children to develop the fine motor skills they need to write letters and words themselves. At first their efforts will look like scribbles and marks, but they are nevertheless learning the connection between written and spoken language. Provide materials and lots of opportunities to write and draw. Encourage them to “sign” their name to their drawings or to label the parts of their drawings.
Later on, they will be able to form actual letters and write their own name.
When they are ready to learn the names and sounds of the alphabet, head to the library for some books for fun with letters. Having fun is the best way for preschoolers to learn!
Here’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser: ABC T-Rex, by Bernard Most. How can you top the appeal of a Tyrannosaurus who “loved his ABC’s so much, he ate them up.” Each page pairs a letter with an adjective. For example, “A was appetizing. B was even better.” In the illustrations, the cheerful dinosaur chomps a corner out of a large letter. Look carefully, and you’ll also find many other items starting with that letter. No fair looking at the lists in the back of the book until you attempt to find them yourself.
The letters themselves become the characters in Alphabet
Adventure by Audrey Wood. The lower case letters get distracted on the way to school, where they are supposed to help a boy learn his ABC’s, when little “i” loses her dot. The three-dimensional-looking digital illustrations give the letters a surprising amount of personality. I would not recommend this book for the youngest, because seeing the letters in so many different positions might be confusing. But slightly older children might find it fascinating. Sequels: Alphabet Mystery and Alphabet Rescue.
Children love to show off what they can do. (“Look at me, Mom!”) Denise Fleming channels this enthusiasm for little readers of Shout! Shout it out!, which covers not only the alphabet, but also colors, numbers and some animals and vehicles. The book begins, “Everybody loves to shout, so if you know it, shout it out!” I can imagine some rather raucous storytimes using this book; maybe it’s not the best choice for just before bedtime! It would be a great way to reinforce learning, though.
For more lively alphabet books, try “Fun With Letters” in the Book Talk Book Lists. (Link above)
This is the fourth in a series of Book Talk articles about books that help parents get their children ready to read by engaging in interactive everyday activities. These recommendations are based on “Every Child Ready to Read®@Your Library®,” which is a program of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association. For more information about early literacy, go to http://ocpl.org/kids/grownups/eed