Are you a parent, relative, or caregiver of a baby, a toddler, or a preschool-aged child? You can help that child–right now–get ready to read with simple activities every day.
Learning to read begins well before children start school. From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important pre-reading skills. Developing these early literacy skills makes it easier for children to read once they do begin school.
At the Bozeman Public Library, we encourage patrons to follow these simple, research-based practices from the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library program developed by the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).
The ACTIVITIES are:
TALKING: Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. Talk to your infant about what you are doing and seeing during the day. As children become verbal, talking together is one of the best ways to help them develop language and learn what words mean, as well as gain new information about the world. Conversations help children express thoughts. You can talk with your child anywhere–during daily routines, meals, in the car, doing chores, at the store, bath time or on a walk. Listen to what your child says, answer questions and add new information.
SINGING: Singing songs is a natural and appealing way for a child to learn about language. Children hear distinct sounds that make up words, an important early literacy skill. Sing to your child and sing together! songs from your childhood, nursery rhymes. Don’t worry about having a perfect voice–kids don’t care. You can also check out music CD’s from the library or find children’s music online (www.freesongs for kids.com).
READING: Reading out loud to your child is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Shared reading helps children develop an interest in reading; it helps them learn how print looks and how books work. As you read, talk about what the words and pictures mean. Ask questions and listen to what your child says. Children who enjoy the experience of being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.
PLAYING: Playing helps children put thoughts into words. As they play, they learn that spoken words stand for real objects and experiences. Give children time to spend in free, child-directed play–time when they can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.
WRITING: Children learn pre-reading skills through writing activities. Give a child paper and pencils or crayons for pretend writing. Scribbling and writing help children learn that written words stand for spoken language. Children can pretend to “sign” their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words. With practice they can begin writing the letters in their names.
The seeds of later success with reading are planted very, very early. So if there’s a child under 5 in your life, try these suggestions on a regular basis. You’ll be helping that child get ready to read.
Learn more about the national program Every Child Ready to Read @ your library at everychildreadytoread.org or go to learn more @ your library.