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Early Childhood Literacy: Home

A guide to getting children ready to read (birth to age six).

What is Early Literacy?

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!) 

Note: some of the resources in this subject guide contain links to commercial sites, publisher’s promotions, and educational products. It is not the intention of the Newburgh Free Library to support or endorse the purchase of any particular goods or services. Some sites offer a free and optional sign-up feature; the resources can still be used without this registration. 


 New York State and Educational Resources Subject Guide: "Resources to help adults support youth learning and help young scholars support themselves" in the 2020 school year and beyond. Includes resources for PreK-Grade


Don't forget to try our digital ebooks for kids.

Please see our Parenting Resource Page for more resources.


Early Literacy Links

This Is Literacy

Creating a Home Literacy Environment

Featured Resources

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.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) an “organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8.” See theParent Page for “Everyday Steps to Reading and Writing” 

American Journal of Play - A free online journal with book reviews on the importance of play.



Not Just Cute

Sprout Early Literacy Backpacks


Parenting Books: Reading