Early Literacy or "pre-reading" includes all the skills infants and young children need before they formally learn to read. Parents and caregivers can have an enormous influence on a child's future reading (and learning) success by using simple, everyday practices in the areas of talking, reading, writing, singing, and playing. The resources in this guide provide information on many aspects of reading readiness, including the six "ready to read" skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, narrative skills, and phonological awareness.
*What are pre-reading skills? – Pre-reading skills are any abilities gained before reading proper begins, but which lead to it. The skills are mostly a matter of preparing the brain for future tasks, so they may look very different from traditional “book skills.” For example, clapping rhythms while singing a song to an infant seems nothing like reading, but it prepares a baby's ear to recognize distinct sounds and syllables within words later on.
* The key is to scaffold and support pre-reading skills, preventing many learning difficulties before they start (and catching any problems very quickly) without lecturing children or overwhelming them with drills and forced performance. It is never too early to start reading to children and exposing them to the “world of literacy,” but beginning formal lessons too early may confuse and frustrate children.
*Cultivate a love of reading by making it fun. Surround children with words; take advantage of their natural curiosity. All it takes is a few simple habits to direct children to the learning of everyday life. Instill these habits and you will have given children a great head start. (No worries or worksheets needed!)
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Also, try the Zero to Three School Readiness Guide and interactive tool.
CELL: The Center for Early Literacy Learning – “The goal of [CELL] is to promote the adoption and sustained use of evidence-based early literacy learning practices.” Also see the parent resources, guides, and podcasts.
American Journal of Play - A free online journal with book reviews on the importance of play.