Print Awareness

Northeast Library

Print Awareness

Early Literacy Tips for Parents and Caretakers of Young Children

Researchers say that there are six skills that are important for children to learn before they are ready to read:

  1. Print Motivation
  2. Print Awareness
  3. Narrative Skills
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Letter Knowledge
  6. Phonological Awareness

(Source: Every Child Ready to Read via Saroj Ghoting).  

What is Print Awareness?

Just like it sounds, print awareness is noticing or recognizing the simple fact that printed letters and words have meaning. Furthermore, print awareness involves getting to know how a book works: that text flows from left to right and top to bottom, how to hold a book the correct way, and that a book has different parts such as its pages, cover, back cover and spine.

What are some things that you can do to encourage print awareness?

Run your finger underneath the text as you read together, pointing out each word as you read.

Explain the difference between the author and the illustrator of a book.

Let your child hold the book and turn its pages.

Read the title, author and illustrator on the spine label of the book.

Print awareness is not limited to books! We are surrounded by print.  Point out signs, labels, posters, even your grocery list!

Books that have just a few words on each page can be helpful in the early stages of print awareness. Try The Everything Book by Denise Fleming. Its bright illustrations are labeled with words, somewhat like a visual dictionary. Bonus if you can get it in the board book format... then little fingers can turn the pages without ripping them out!

Choose books that have large, bold font sizes. An easy reader such as Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel is a great choice not only for its bold, simple text, but it also introduces the idea of chapters to little ones.

Stories that mention the pages of a book and the book itself as a part of the story like Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett are a great choice.

Finally, books with repeated phrases such as Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina make it easy for young readers to jump in, participate and gain confidence.

A silly way to encourage print awareness that is sure to get some giggles is to start reading upside down or backwards. If the little one is quite ready to catch on, simply point out your "mistake"!

Early literacy skills (the skills children acquire before they are ready to read and write) are important in developing the confidence of early readers. When children develop print awareness, they get more comfortable with books. When they are comfortable with books, they will be ready to read!

Interested in more early literacy tips? Attend story time with your child and check back at next month for another early literacy tip.

--Cassie F., Children's Librarian