"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." —Emilie Buchwald
According to the national early literacy initiative Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library, there are five practices parents can use to develop early literacy skills--skills that will help children when it's time to learn to read.
Talking: Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation. Narrate your day. You can talk about anything with your baby. (Babies won’t tell a soul!) Give your child time to babble back, and respond to his or her insights.
Singing: Songs help children develop listening skills and pay attention to the rhythms and rhymes of spoken language. It’s natural to sing, and your child loves your voice. Songs slow down language, emphasize syllables, and make language especially memorable, interesting, and enjoyable. Sing songs you know, and even make up your own!
Reading: Reading is the single most important way to help children get ready to learn to read. Reading with babies is cuddle time, and anything goes. Read a book, sing a book, chew on the pages, giggle at the pictures. Do it for as long (or short!) as both of you are happy. Frequent short sessions work well. Have books everywhere you would also have toys: on the floor or on changing table, in the diaper bag, and in the car.
Writing: Reading and writing go together; both are ways to represent spoken words and communicate information. Point out letters and print in the environment, not just words in books, but on signs, packages, or your own writing. Playing with three-dimensional shapes will help with letter recognition later (children will know the difference between an A and an O because their brains have long ago registered the difference between a corner and a curve).
Playing: Playing is good for the brain (and the heart). Babies are sensory beings and learn best when they are happy and stimulated just the right amount (not too little, not too much). Pay attention to your child's cues; he or she will tell you when you’re missing the mark. Hands-on play with three dimensional, unplugged objects, and friendly human beings is best for them (e.g. soft blocks, mirrors, shaky eggs, books, bells…).
At BML, we strive to incorporate these practices where we can. You’ll find some or all represented in each of our storytimes. You’ll find them in our Every Child Ready to Read Early Literacy Kits, which are available for check out. Last, but not least, you will also find opportunities for all of the practices in our Brighton Kiwanis Discovery Room.
For more information on Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library, talk with a Children’s Librarian today.