1) Have Fun with books- Use expression when you read, chose books you enjoy to read, when children see you reading for pleasure they want to read too!
2) Notice Print All Around You- Let children handle books and help turn the pages. Babies will even put them in their mouths. Point out signs wherever you go!
3) Talk, Talk, Talk- Point to objects and name them. When you come to a new word in a book talk about its meaning.
4) Tell Stories about Everything- talk about the day to show children that stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Ask questions such as what do think will happen next?
5) Look for Letters Everywhere- Children learn shapes before they can learn letters. Read books about shapes, play puzzles and sorting games. Talk about letter sounds in objects and shapes children know.
6) Take time to Rhyme, Sing and Play Word Games- Play with words and help children to sound them out. Rhymes and music help children to hear smaller sounds of language.
Research has proven three distinct age categories as children get ready to read: (resource: Johnson County Library)
Early Talkers: Children Birth to Two years
At this age, kids are busy learning all about language by absorbing the different sounds they hear. Then they babble or coo in response. They are learning about the world through all of their senses. The more stimuli they receive from the environment, the more connections are made in the brain. In these early years as you bond, you will set the stage for developing the love of language, books and reading.
An example of this would be the game Peek-a-Boo
When you play peek-a-boo it helps children learn object permanence. The concept that even if something (you, for example) can’t be seen, you are still there. There are many books that play with the idea of peek-a-boo such as “ where’s the baby” the reading of the book then increases the use of vocabulary, then reading the book demonstrates narrative skills which is the ability to tell a story. When changing a child’s diaper or getting them dressed playing peek-a-boo even though the child may not understand everything that is said the words he/she hears increases their vocabulary.
Talkers: 2 to 3 years
Children’s vocabulary is booming in the second and third years. Research shows that children who are read too often have a larger vocabulary and better language skills when they enter kindergarten. Discuss the books you read together and ask simple yes or no questions. Finger plays are also very important at this age.
Books are great but acting out books through a puppet show or finger play helps children to understand the words.
Examples of these would be: Five Green and Speckled Frogs or The More We Get Together
Pre-Readers: 4 to 5 years
Four and five-year-olds are really beginning to recognize that words are made up of individual letters and that each letter has its own name and sound. Being able to hear the individual sounds will help children sound out words when they begin to read. At this age phonological awareness is a skill children are learning. The ability to help children to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. These are the skills that will help children once they try to read on their own.
An example is:
Read the book “Planting a Rainbow” by Lois Alert
Go through it again and look for the flower names. Say the name of a flower and explain that you are going to clap out the number of syllables or parts it has.
Daff-o-dill clap three times, once for each syllable.
As long as educators, parents and caregivers continue to make reading enjoyable and engage for children. The fun of language and reading will benefit everyone. We are not only models for early literacy but help give children a jump start into kindergarten and beyond.