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What is Early Childhood Literacy?

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cropped-kcpl-164.jpgWhen I tell people I’m a children’s librarian at the Kenton County Public Library who specializes in early childhood work they usually ask me if I teach babies to read. That is not what we do at the library.  We teach children and their parents how to develop early literacy skills.  Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can read or write. When children have strong early literacy skills they will be ready to learn to read.

To read, the whole brain must be used and it takes a lot of practice to learn. Luckily, it is easy and fun to develop early literacy skills in young children.  Everyday activities like talking, singing, playing and of course, reading, all work together to help your child be ready to learn to read when the time comes.  Here are a few ways to help the children in your life become readers.

  • Talk with them. Not just near them. Make eye-contact and give them time to respond. When your baby or toddler makes any noise in response react positively.
  • Actively play with your children. There is no gadget better than an engaged adult.  Peek-a-boo, pretend play, blocks, trucks, and (my favorite) enjoying the outdoors all help your child develop a wide variety of early literacy skills.
  • Share music with your children. Music can build family bonds while developing several key early literacy skills. Sing, listen to music together, and don’t forget to dance!
  • Read every day. If your child can’t or won’t sit still for a book don’t worry. They can listen while they are moving. My son learned to walk and didn’t sit down for a book until a year later and he had grown into a strong reader.   You also don’t have to read all at once. Little moments count too – waiting in the grocery line, during bath or meal times and waiting rooms are perfect places to use books. Don’t forget, there is always storytime!
  • Show your children our world. Point out the colors, shapes, letters and patterns that surround us. Pretty soon they will be pointing it all out to you!

It’s also important that children have positive early experiences with books. The library is hosting the annual Early Childhood Literacy Fair on April 5, 10:30-1:30 at our Covington Branch and this should be one of those experiences! The fair is funded by the Kenton County Community Early Childhood Council. At the fair you will find a family photo booth so you can remember the day, activities from the Contemporary Arts Center and Cincinnati Museum Center, great information for a variety of agencies and companies and at 1 p.m., a family concert with Zak Morgan.  The first 400 children will receive a free book and there are plenty of other trinkets for children to collect while parents are picking up information. Children under 36 months can complete a developmental screen with their parents for special prizes.

This post was written by Amy Schardein, early childhood literacy librarian. Learn more about Amy and storytimes.

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 Note: This post was updated on 3/27/14 to reflect the 2014 Literacy Fair

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45 Comments

  1. sarah s March 5, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Favorite children’s book: You Are Special by Max Lucado.

  2. sarah s March 5, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I follow your blog 🙂

  3. sarah s March 5, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

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  4. sarah s March 5, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I told a friend about this via email

  5. Linda S. March 5, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Favorite children’s book: The Giving Tree

  6. Linda S. March 5, 2013 at 11:04 am - Reply

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  7. Linda S. March 5, 2013 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I like you on Facebook.

  8. Matt H. March 5, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

    My favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are

  9. Jodi March 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    My favorite book is I Wanna Iguana. My kids think it’s hilarious.

  10. Jodi March 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I follow the blog.

  11. Jodi March 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I like you on facebook.

  12. Jodi March 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    I told a friend about this via email.

  13. Angie Clifton Marshall March 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    My favorite children’s book is Addy’s Surprise. It makes me cry no matter how many times I read it to my daughter.

  14. Angie Clifton Marshall March 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I like you on facebook

  15. Tara Howe March 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    My favorite children’s book is “guess how much I love you” by Sam McBratney.

  16. Tara Howe March 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I liked you on Facebook

  17. Tara Howe March 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I follow your blog.

  18. Tara Howe March 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I shared this on Facebook.

  19. Erin Oliver March 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    My favorite children’s book is Ferdinand the Bull. Thanks!

  20. Erin Oliver March 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I liked this page on Facebook.

  21. Erin Oliver March 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I follow your blog.

  22. jennifer jasper March 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Shared on facebook!

  23. jennifer jasper March 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Our family loves the book, Mortimer!

  24. jennifer jasper March 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    I already like the page on facebook!

  25. jennifer jasper March 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    I follow the blog

  26. Maureen March 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Favorite children’s book: Secret Garden

  27. Maureen March 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I follow the blog

  28. Maureen March 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I like you on FB

  29. Joy Delbusso March 7, 2013 at 7:04 am - Reply

    I like you on FB

  30. Joy Delbusso March 7, 2013 at 7:07 am - Reply

    My favorite children’s book is a toss up between “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. They’re both fun reads as a child yet still applies to adulthood.

  31. Tracey Elrod March 8, 2013 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    My favorite children’s book is “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”.

  32. Tonya March 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Favorite children’s book: llama llama misses mama.

  33. Tonya March 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I follow your blog.

  34. Tonya March 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    I already like the page on facebook!

  35. Tonya March 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    I told a friend about this via email

  36. Angela March 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Favorite Children’s BooK: The Giving Tree

  37. Angela March 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Liked this page on Facebook

  38. Jennifer Stratman March 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    My grandson and I love the library. We go to the Thursday storytime every week. Our favorite books are
    Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie by Laurie Jacobs and A Porcupine named Fluffy by Helen Lester.

  39. Amy March 11, 2013 at 9:55 am - Reply

    I love the children’s book “there is a monster at the end of this book”.

  40. Amy March 11, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Shared on facebook

  41. Amy March 11, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Like the Kenton county library on facebook

  42. Danielle March 11, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

    My favorite Children’s book is: Oh The Places You’ll Go!

  43. Danielle March 11, 2013 at 10:41 am - Reply

    I like you on Facebook:)

  44. Danielle March 11, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I “shared” this on Facebook

  45. Sarah March 11, 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Our favorite children’s book right now is Snuggle Puppy by Boyton. But really anything we can read together is our favorite. We already like you on facebook and are now following you!

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