After reading a book with your child, talk about the story. Asking your child questions and reviewing the story will help your child learn narrative skills, which means the ability to describe things, talk about events, and tell or retell stories. For example, in the book, Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller, you could ask what the characters thought of each other in the beginning of the story versus at the end of the story.
–Tip by Julie D., Elementary School Liaison
Vocabulary means knowing the names of things and learning new words. Wordless books with pictures can help you talk about new objects or even concepts with your child. Try one by Suzy Lee, Jerry Pinkney, David Wiesner, or Barbara Lehman.
The early literacy skill of phonological awareness means learning about sounds in words. Singing songs with your baby, such as “Old MacDonald” or “The More We Get Together,” is a great way to emphasize this skill because in songs each syllable may have a different note. Without thinking about it your child is hearing words being broken down into parts. The Library has a multitude of CDs with classic children’s songs… check one out!
You can help your baby develop print motivation by encouraging an interest in reading through positive, fun experiences with books. One way to do this is by acting out parts of a story, such as playing peekaboo while reading the book, Peek-a-boo by Rosemary Wells. Babies love this game. Check out one of the Library’s other peekaboo books and have fun playing at home!
–Tip by Erin E., Youth Programming Coordinator
Throughout the day, you can help your children see the relationship between written and spoken words by pointing out environmental print, such as signs and labels. For example, even if your children can’t read the word “STOP,” they can associate the symbol of the sign with the meaning of the word. This is a way of developing print awareness—one of the six early literacy skills that help children get ready to read.
–Tip by Brad J., Youth Technology Librarian
Narrative skill is the ability to describe things and events and to tell stories. Anticipating what will come next in the story is a good way to practice narrative skills. As you read aloud Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora, ask your child to guess who you will say “peekaboo” to next.
–Tip by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head
Books are a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary since they use uncommon words in them. Children’s books have about 31 rare words per 1,000 words—that’s 3 times more than what’s used in conversation! But what happens when you’re reading with your child, and you come across a word you don’t know either? What a great opportunity to show your child what we do when we don’t know something! There’s the dictionary, of course, but also sometimes there are clues in the book, like pictures and synonyms, that will help you figure out what the word means. The book, A Good Day’s Fishing by James Prosek, describes things on a fishing trip, while introducing lots of new vocabulary.
–Tip by Keary B., Youth Collection Specialist
The early literacy skill called letter knowledge means learning about the letters of the alphabet. But even before children learn actual letters, they can begin to notice differences in things, like shape, size, and color. You can practice letter knowledge with your little one by pointing out differences in his or her toys throughout the day, looking for shapes, letters, colors, etc. For example, find all the round objects in the tub toys during your child’s bath, or find the first letter of your child’s name in letter blocks.
–Tip by Julie D., Elementary School Liaison
Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words, like rhyming, playing with syllables or parts of words, and hearing beginning sounds of words. A fun way to help children learn their colors and rhyming skills would be to read the book, Warthogs Paint: A Messy Color Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards. You can even make the story more interactive by giving your child colored paper or crayons and each time a color is mentioned in the book have them hold up that color.
–Tip by Barb M., Youth Programming and Outreach Assistant
When you’re picking out books to read with your child, try choosing one with pictures of real things, like an apple or a ball. Show your child the picture of the object and then show the real thing. This will help your child develop the concept that pictures represent real things, and, later on, the concept that written words represent real things. This is all part of print awareness.