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Young children need a variety of skills to become successful readers. A panel of reading experts has determined that six specific early literacy skills become the building blocks for later reading and writing. Research indicates that children who enter school with more of these skills are better able to benefit from the reading instruction they receive when they arrive at school.

  • Being interested in and enjoying books
  • The ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • Knowing the names of things
  • The ability to describe things and events and to tell a story
  • Noticing print everywhere and knowing how to handle a book
    and how to follow written words on a page
  • Learning to name letters, knowing letters have sounds,
    and recognizing letters everywhere

Print Motivation is a child's interest in and enjoyment of books. Children who enjoy books and reading will be curious about how to read and will want to read more. A child with print motivation enjoys being read to, plays with books, pretends to write, asks to be read to and likes trips to the library. Reading books should be fun!

Parents and caregivers can encourage print motivation in children by:

  • Reading books often
  • Making book-sharing a fun and special time
  • Keeping books accessible
  • Giving them the impression you enjoy reading
  • Visiting the public library often

Choose books that encourage a child's interest and enjoyment of books and let children pick out books that they want to read or have read to them.

Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and distinguish the smaller sounds in words. Being able to hear the beginning and ending sounds that make up words will help children sound out words when they begin to read. Once a child has phonemic awareness, they become aware that sounds are like building blocks that can be used to build all the different words and most children have an easier time learning to read.

The best ways to strengthen phonological awareness are learning nursery         rhymes, singing songs, and playing sound and word games. Choose books that incorporate rhyme, songs, or short poems to encourage phonological awareness.

Vocabulary is knowing the names of things. Children need to know the meaning of words to understand what they are reading. The more parents talk to babies and toddlers, the more vocabulary the children have. Most children enter school knowing between 3,000 and 5,000 words and research shows that children who have larger vocabularies are better readers.

The best way to help children learn new words is to talk and read to them - a lot! Choose non-fiction, as well as fiction books, choose books that use a variety of words to express the same concept, and most importantly, read to children everyday and introduce them to new words.

Narrative skills is the ability to describe things or events and to tell and re-tell stories. Being able to talk about and explain what happens in a story helps children understand the meaning of what he or she is reading. Good narrative skills lead to good reading comprehension.

Parents can help children strengthen their narrative skills by allowing them to talk with you and by listening carefully when he or she talks or tells stories. Encourage interaction by asking open-ended questions, by asking children to tell about their day or an event or by asking them to tell you about the book instead of just listening to you read the story. Choose books that repeat or predict to encourage telling and retelling of the story or choose wordless books that allow children to tell the story. Encourage 'picture walking' - allow your child to retell the story using the illustrations as guides.

Print Awareness is the ability to notice printed language, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow the words on a page. It includes learning that writing in English follows basic rules, such as top-to-bottom, left-to-right, and the print on the page is to be read.

Parents can encourage print awareness by showing children that print is all around them - on signs, on labels, in books and in magazines. Choose books that use print in a variety of ways and use your index finger to follow along as you read the words. Get sturdy books that your child can handle and allow children to turn the pages of the book as you read.

Letter Knowledge is understanding that letters are different from each other and that they have different names and sounds. In order to read, children must understand that written words are made up of individual letters and that each letter has its own name and sound.

Learning to tell one letter from another involves being able to see the differences in letter shapes so choose books that can help children learn the names of the letters and the sound they make. Choose alphabet books and sing alphabet songs to introduce your child to letters. Point out and name letters when writing the child's name, reading books, or looking at words.




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February 15, 2011