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Early Literacy - Raising Readers with Your Library

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they learn to read and write. It’s the foundation that newborns to 5-year-olds need to become ready to read.

The New Orleans Public Library believes in helping parents and caregivers raise readers together. The Library is committed to providing support from the very beginning of children's early learning to years beyond. Our resources can help them become ready to read and prepare them to be lifelong learners.

Early Literacy Skills

The six important skills that help children prepare for reading are as follows:
Print Motivation: "I LOVE BOOKS."
Print Awareness: "I SEE WORDS."
Phonological Awareness: "I HEAR SOUNDS AND WORDS."
Narrative Skills: "I TELL STORIES."
Vocabulary: "I KNOW WORDS."
Letter Knowledge: "I KNOW MY ABCs."

Early Literacy Practices

Five of the best ways to help children develop the early literacy skills needed to be prepared to read are talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together.

Talking - Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. This will help children understand the meaning of what they read.
Example: Talk and listen to your child as you prepare meals, do household chores, get ready for bed, etc. - anytime is a good time for conversation.

Singing - Songs are a wonderful way to lean about language. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to read printed language.
Example: Sing songs and nursery rhymes, and play music. The Library is a great source for music CDs for children.

Reading - Reading together, or shared reading, is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Reading together increases vocabulary and general knowledge. It helps children learn how print looks and how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.
Example: Have books within easy reach. Make a special spot for books somewhere in your house. Visit Library often and find new books to make reading fun. Show your children how important reading is by reading yourself.

Writing - Reading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities.
Example: Give your child many chances to draw and write. Keep paper and crayons or markers on a table where children can return again and again. Use magnetic letters on the refrigerator to spell words and messages.

Playing - Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words.
Example: Have a prop box with inexpensive items that children can use for imaginative play.

Visit our e-resources that are just for kids to find children’s e-books, educational games, videos, digital music downloads, and more.

Every Child Ready to Read is a project of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association.