Children's Center
Encouraging Early Literacy

Early Literacy
Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to do so. Parents can create early literacy experiences by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing with their children.


Talking: Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. The experience of self-expression also stimulates brain development, which underlies all learning.

Singing: Singing—which also includes rhyming—increases children's awareness of and sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to decode print (written language).

Reading: Reading together, or shared reading, remains the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers.

Writing: Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.

Playing: Play is one of the primary ways young children learn about the world. General knowledge is an important literacy skill that helps children understand books and stories once they begin to read.

How to Encourage Early Literacy

  • Talk, sing and read with your child each day.
  • Choose books with your children. Look for books with colorful pictures and simple words.
  • When reading with your child, let them see the pictures, turn the pages and explore the book. Ask questions about the story as you go.
  • As your child learns to talk, point out objects and repeat words to them.
  • Keep children's books around your home and within easy reach of little ones.
  • Set an example; let them see you read.
  • Visit the library for storytimes and other programs for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and familes.

Early Literacy Resources

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