By Libbie Hough, Communications Specialist
If you are a parent or caregiver of a young child, you may find yourself wondering when to start getting your child ready to read. The answer is, as soon as you can. You are your child’s first teacher, and you are his or her best teacher.
Here are some simple literacy practices you can do every day, courtesy of a program we use at the Orange County Public Library, Every Child Ready to Read®. We’ve tossed in a practical hint with each practice to help you along the way.
Talk: Oral language is one of the most critical early literacy skills. Your child can learn about language by listening to you and other adults talk and by joining in the conversation. Hint: You can talk about a daily task, such as feeding the dog or sweeping the porch.
Sing: Singing slows down language, allowing children to better hear the different sounds in words. Singing is also a way to teach new words and to share information. Hint: Your child loves the sound of your voice, even if you are not Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams or Michael Bublé.
Read: Reading together helps children build their vocabulary and comprehension. It nurtures a love for reading and motivates children to want to learn to read. Hint: It is also a perfect time for cuddling.
Write: When children see print used in their daily lives, they become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words. Hint: For very young children, taking a crayon or pencil to paper is enough to support this literacy skill. The work also makes for some fine refrigerator art.
Play: Play is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. As they play, children put their thoughts into words and talk about what they are doing. Hint: It’s not important to understand everything your child says during playtime. After all, they may be pretending to be a horse.
If this feels like too much to tackle, let the Orange County Public Library help. We have board books, young reader books, and books on CD perfect for children ages birth to five. We also offer storytimes – complete with singing and playing – for children throughout the week.
Reading well makes it possible to discover the world around us, no matter our age, income or ability. But to ensure we all have the opportunity to learn and grow, we have to start early.
Every Child Ready to Read® is a program of the Association for Library Service to Children and Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association.