Early Literacy

Reading Suggestions

Every child ready to read

Early Literacy Begins With You!

Help your child get ready to read with these 5 simple activities every day.


Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. This will help children understand the meaning of what they read.

Ways to practice talking with your child:

  • Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk
  • Respond to what your child says and extend the conversation: ‘Yes, we did see a truck like that last week. It’s called a bulldozer.’
  • Stretch your child’s vocabulary. Repeat what your child says and use new words: ‘You want a banana? That’s a very healthy choice.’
  • If English is not your first language, speak to your child in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn more and will understand the concepts behind ideas.

return to literacy menu ↑


Songs are a wonderful way to learn about language. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to read printed language.

Ways to practice singing with your child:

  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters.
  • Sing nursery rhymes so children hear the different sounds in words.
  • Clap along to the rhythms in songs so children hear the syllables in words.
  • Practice singing and rhyming at home with our Baby Rhymetime Songs and Words

return to literacy menu ↑


Reading together – shared reading – is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Reading together increases vocabulary and general knowledge. It helps children learn how print looks and how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.

Ways to practice reading with your child:

  • Read every day.
  • Make shared reading interactive. Before you begin a book, look at the cover and predict what the book is about. Have your child turn the book’s pages. Ask questions as you read and listen to what your child says. When you finish the book, ask your child to retell the story.
  • Use books to help teach new words. Books can teach less common words, words that children may not hear in everyday conversation. As you read, talk about what these words mean.

return to literacy menu ↑


Reading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities.

Ways to practice writing with your child:

  • Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities to draw and write.
  • Children can ‘sign’ their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words. As they practice eye-hand coordination and develop their hand muscles, children can begin to write the letters in their names.
  • Talk to your children about what they draw, and write captions or stories together. This helps make a connection between spoken and printed language.

return to literacy menu ↑


Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words.

Ways to practice playing with your child:

  • Give your child plenty of playtime. Some of the best kinds of play are unstructured, when children can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.
  • Encourage dramatic play. When children make up stories using puppets or stuffed animals, they develop important narrative skills. This helps children understand that stories and books have a beginning, middle and end.
  • Pretend to read a book. Have your child tell you a story based on the pictures in the book. Or ask your child to ‘read’ a book you’ve read together many times and tell you the story. This develops vocabulary and language skills.

return to literacy menu ↑

Why is it important for children to get ready to read before they start school?

Children who enter kindergarten with pre-reading skills have an advantage. They can focus on learning to read instead of first learning essential pre-reading skills. Children who start kindergarten ready to read have greater success throughout their school years.


Why are parents so important in helping children get ready to read?

You have been your child’s teacher from the day he or she was born. You know more about your child than anyone else. You are in the best position to help your child get ready to read because:

  • Young children have short attention spans. You can do activities for short bits of time throughout the day.
  • You know your children best and you can help them learn in ways and at times that are easiest for them.
  • Parents are tremendous role models – if your children see that you think reading is important and enjoy it, they will follow your lead.
  • Children learn best by doing – and they love doing things with YOU.

Help children get ready to read by providing early literacy opportunities around your home.

  • Talk and listen to your child as you prepare meals, do household chores, get ready for bed – anytime is a good time for conversation.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes – at home, in the car, waiting in line – and play music. Your library is a great source for music CDs for children.
  • Have books within easy reach. Make a special spot for books somewhere in your house. Come to the library often and find new books to make reading fun. Show your children how important reading is by reading yourself.
  • Give your child a chance to draw and write. Keep paper and crayons or markers on a table where children can return again and again. Use magnetic letters on the refrigerator to spell words and messages.
  • Have a prop box with inexpensive items that children can use for imaginative play.

The Madison Library has many resources to help you talk, sing, read, write, and play with your child including:

  • Storytime

  • Music programs

  • Read along CDs and books

  • Music CDs

  • Literacy Resources

For more information contact us or visit:www.everychildreadytoread.org

For early literacy SONGS, RHYMES, and STORIES to practice at home – or to sing along during our Baby Rhymetime on Tues mornings at 10:30am – click HERE

Special Events for Kids