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Early Literacy

Help your child get ready to read. Learning to read begins before children start school. From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important skills that will help them learn to read. Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to learn to read once they begin school. Learn how to help your child get ready to read with simple activities every day.

These are five of the best ways to help children get ready to read:

  1. Talking
  2. Singing
  3. Reading
  4. Writing
  5. Playing


Talking with your child is one of the best ways to help develop language and other early literacy skills. Conversations help a child express thoughts, learn what words mean and gain new information about the world.

  • Make sure your children have lots of opportunities to talk with you – not just listen. Take turns.
  • Answer your child when they ask questions.
  • Rephrase what your child says and introduce new words to the conversation.
  • Speak to your child in the language you know best.


Singing slows down language and makes it easier for children to hear the distinct sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to actually read. Songs also teach new vocabulary and introduce new ideas and concepts.

  • Sing with your children any chance you have – you don’t need a perfect voice, just some enthusiasm.
  • Move to the music. Children develop motor skills as they clap, jump, twirl and spin to music.
  • Clap along to the rhythm in songs to help the children hear the syllables in words.
  • Make up a simple tune for one of your child’s favorite books.


Shared reading – or reading books together – is the single best way to help children develop early literacy skills. Read together every day and talk about the books you read.

  • Shared reading is meant to be interactive – talk about the pictures, have your child turn the pages and predict what will happen next.
  • Create a special space for your children to look at books. Make sure that your child can reach books without needing help.
  • Show your child that reading is important by letting them see you read.


Writing activities help children learn letter names and sound out new words. Writing also helps children understand that written words represent ideas, places and events. As children scribble and draw, they practice eye-hand coordination and exercise the muscles they will need to write letters and words.

  • Keep crayons, markers, magnetic letters and paper within your child’s reach.
  • Encourage your child to add items to your shopping lists and write thank you notes.
  • Create your own picture books – let your child draw the illustrations and dictate captions to you.


Children learn how to express themselves, the meaning of words and other early literacy skills by playing.

  • Provide inexpensive props like large boxes, old clothes or costumes for dress up, empty food containers, shopping bags and empty paper towel rolls.
  • Encourage your child to create stories by imagining he or she is in another place or pretending to be someone else.
  • Act out a story based on the pictures in a book.
  • Ask your children to pretend to read you a book they have heard many times.
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