What is Early Literacy?

Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read or write.

Early literacy is a baby who chews on a book, a toddler who wants his/her favorite book read over and over, and a preschooler who “reads” a story to you from memory.

Six Early Literacy Skills

Young children need a variety of skills to become successful readers. Reading experts have 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.

  1. VOCABULARY: or knowing the names of things is an extremely important skill for children to have when they are learning to read. Most children enter school knowing between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
  2. PRINT MOTIVATION: is a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. 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.
  3. PRINT AWARENESS: includes learning that writing in English follows basic rules such as flowing from top-to-bottom and left-to-right, and that the print on the page is what is being read by someone who knows how to read. An example of print awareness is a child’s ability to point to the words on the page of a book.
  4. NARRATIVE SKILLS: being able to understand and tell stories, and describe things, are important for children being able to understand what they are learning to read. An example of a narrative skill is a child’s ability to tell what happens at a birthday party or on a trip to the store.
  5. LETTER KNOWLEDGE: include learning that letters have names and are different from each other, and that specific sounds go with specific letters. An example of letter knowledge is a child’s abitity to tell the name of the letter ‘B’ and what sound it makes.
  6. PHONOLOGICAL AWARNESS: is the ability to hear and manipulate the smaller sound in words. Phonological awareness includes the ability to hear and create rhymes, to say words with sounds or chunks left out and the ability to put two word chunks together to make a word. Most children who have difficulty in reading have trouble in phonological awareness.

Core Message:

Children need to develop certain skills before they can learn to read. Parents and other significant caregivers are a child’s first and best teachers. They can help children develop early literacy skills beginning at birth so that children are ready to learn to read once they begin school.

  • TALKING: with children helps develop all six skills, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness. vocabulary, narrative skill, and print motivation.
  • SINGING: and rhyming are especially effective at developing letter knowledge phonological awareness, and vocabulary.
  • READING: also helps children learn all six skills.
  • WRITING: helps children learn about print, letters, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and narrative skills.
  • PLAYING: is a way children can learn all six skills.

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