Researchers say that there are six skills that are important for children to learn before they are ready to read:
- Print Motivation
- Print Awareness
- Narrative Skills
- Letter Knowledge
- Phonological Awareness
Let's talk about Print Motivation. Put simply, print motivation is a love of reading. Showing interest in and enjoyment of books is the first stepping stone toward being ready to read, and this skill can be developed from birth.
Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity that aids in language development for your child. It also starts the process of print motivation: showing that reading is an enjoyable activity.
- Pick a cozy, comfortable spot for reading at home.
- Take your children to the library.
- Store books in the same area as your little one's toys.
- Choose age-appropriate books and when he/she is ready, let your child join in on the book choosing process!
Not sure where to start?
12 months and younger
In general, babies who are less than 12 months old like seeing simple, colorful books with large, high-contrast pictures. Books with black and white pictures or patterns make it easier for little developing eyes to focus, such as Black on White by Tana Hoban. Books with photographs of babies are very engaging to these little ones. Start looking in the board book section of your library for these books.
Babies who are 12-24 months old enjoy rhyming books and repetitive language. They also like books about animals, saying hello and goodbye, bedtime, and nursery rhymes. Try reading a book about animals such as Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman and get them engaged by asking them to point to a specific animal in the book.
Toddlers ages 2 to 3 are starting to memorize books. Get them even more engaged with interactive books like pop-ups, lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab, or touch-and-feel. Books with a repeated phrase like Silly Sally by Audrey Wood are great for this age, and traditional songs made into books are always a hit.
As your 4- or 5-year-old is getting into preschool, he/she is ready for more advanced books with a plot. Silly or funny books like We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems are huge for print motivation and it is likely that these are the books that the little ones will ask to borrow from the library over and over again.
Bonus: Even the simple pattern of seeing you read on a regular basis can motivate a child to want to read. Remember, babies and children are very interested in what you are doing. Your behavior and activities serve as a model for them, so go check out that book you've been wanting to read and let your "me-time" motivate your baby to be just like his/her most beloved role-model: you!
Interested in more early literacy tips? Attend story time with your child and check back at dclibrary.org/northeast next month for another early literacy tip.
--Cassie F., Children's Librarian