Notes from Story Time Category: Print Awareness

Reading, Writing, and Wrapping Paper

Writing and reading development support one another.  As children become aware of print, they begin to understand that the print is what you are reading—not the pictures. They start to see print everywhere in their world and to understand that it represents meaning and the spoken word.  It is also important to have your child practice scribbling even before they know how to form letters.

Try this fun activity at home to help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing.  After you read a birthday book such as I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, give your child a piece of wrapping paper for your child to wrinkle, tear, bend, and fold. These motions will help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing.

Letters Make Words

The letters on the pI'm the Biggest Thing in the Oceanages of books and on signs all around us form the words that we are saying when we read. Helping children understand this concept is a part of early literacy called print awareness. Hold books upside-down so children can learn to recognize the proper way to hold them. Also, trace your finger under some of the words as you read them.

–Tip by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

Spots in a Box

Spots in a BoxIn Spots in a Box by Helen Ward writing is important to the story. Be sure to point out the writing as you read it to emphasize that you are reading the text, not the pictures. This helps your child gain print awareness, one of the early literacy skills that will help your child learn to read later on.

–Tip by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

I Spy…

I Spy on the FarmTo help your child develop the early literacy skill of print awareness, try playing this fun “I Spy” game using I Spy on the Farm by Edward Gibbs. Trace the word in bold with your finger and ask children what color they see. This will help your child associate the color with its written word.

–Tip by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

All Through the Town

Grocery StoreYou can practice print awareness anywhere, even if you don’t have a book. Name the letters and the sounds on stop signs or billboards you see while driving, food labels at the grocery store, and other print you run across throughout the day. Even though children may not be able to recognize the letters or words yet, they are still learning to recognize the shape or symbol. This will help them to understand that print has meaning and that it is all around us.

–Tip by Claire Bartlett, Youth Outreach Coordinator

Bubbles, Bubbles

Bubbles, BubblesDid you know that when children play with bubbles, they are learning visual tracking skills that help them follow print on a page? What a fun way to learn!

–Tip by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Recognizing Numbers


Print awareness is recognizing that print has meaning. This can mean that children are able to identify words or numbers, even if they can’t read them or don’t know what they mean. You can use environmental print, or words that are part of our everyday life, to promote print awareness. Clocks are a great example of environmental print!

–Tip by Keary B., Youth Collection Specialist


Print Awareness

Tops and BottomsYoung children can begin to learn that a book must be held a certain way in order to understand the print (and to follow the pictures). In the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, the text of the story requires the reader to hold the book completely sideways!

–Tip by Amy S., Youth Library Assistant

The Cow Loves Cookies

The Cow Loves CookiesHelp your child develop print awareness by pointing to the repeating phrase, “the cow loves cookies,” every time you see it in the story by Karma Wilson. This helps your child see the relationship between written and spoken words.

–Tip by Barb M., Youth Programming and Outreach Assistant

Repeat After Me

Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains?When reading picture books to children, it is important to show them that you are reading the words in the book and not pictures. One way to do this is by running your finger under the title and/or the repeated phrases in a book. For example, in the book Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains? by May Garelick, the title phrase is repeated every few pages. Point to this phrase and have your child say it with you. This will help your child become more aware of the print in the book.

–Tip by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian