When you hear “early literacy” do you picture a young child reading novels? While that would be an awesome feat, we want to share what early literacy actually means. The American Library Association does a great job of describing it: “Early literacy (reading and writing) does not mean early reading instruction or teaching babies to read; it is the natural development of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between babies and parents, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences.
“Literacy development begins at birth and is closely linked to a baby’s earliest experiences with books and stories. Babies learn language through social literacy experiences – parents interacting with them using books.”
More simply put, early literacy is everything that children know about reading and writing before they can read and write. In addition to reading to and with your child, equally important to building early literacy skills is participating in early literacy-rich activities including songs, games, and play. Simple activities such as play acting a story you’ve read with your child or drawing pictures and talking about them can help make connections to language and the written word.
Visit our blog regularly for a monthly Early Literacy Activity calendar full of fun, impactful early literacy activities that emphasize talking, reading, writing, singing, and playing with the pre-readers in your life. You can also learn what the Library Foundation is doing to further enhance early literacy and encourage lifelong learning in our community with our Ready to Read and Take 20 and Read programs at www.stchlibraryfoundation.org
Play is one of the five early literacy practices that help children develop the skills they need in order to be ready to learn to read once they get to school. Play helps children in all sorts of ways: they get to learn and try out new words; they act out the things they see in the world, leading to greater understanding; and they have lots of imaginative fun.
Engaging in play with your child doesn’t have to mean buying lots of expensive toys. In fact, some of the best, most beneficial play takes place with everyday objects, like a cardboard box. Think back to when you were a child; do you remember all the things that a single cardboard box could be?
- A small box could be a console on a spaceship, a table at a restaurant, or a musical instrument.
- A medium-sized box could be a treasure chest, a dollhouse, or a car to sit in and drive.
- A big box could be a bear’s cave, a play house, or even a castle.
- A flattened box with some crayons could be a racetrack for cars, a map of a magical land, or an artist’s canvas.
When children use their imaginations to play, the possibilities for enjoyment and growth are endless. The next time you have a cardboard box of any size, share it with your child and play. You’ll be amazed at all the ways you can have fun with your homemade cardboard playground.
*image from beafunmum.com
Every month, the children’s services staff of the St. Charles City-County Library District create an Early Literacy Calendar for the community. Each calendar includes fun, impactful early literacy activities that can help children develop the skills necessary to learn to read. These calendars emphasize talking, reading, writing, singing, and playing with the pre-readers in your life.
Click here to access the April 2013 Early Literacy Calendar.
The Aprilactivities were compiled by the children’s staff at the Spencer Road Branch Library in St. Peters. Use the calendar to make early literacy activities a part of your child’s daily routine!