Week of the Young Child celebrates all things early learning. It occurs every year during the first week of April. Our caregivers, PreK centers, educators, families, and most importantly our little learners all deserve to be celebrated. Join us in recognizing all of the great ways early childhood educators and caregivers incorporate literacy.
It’s often said that raising a child takes a village. Today’s village includes loved ones, near and far, as well as online and in-person resources. We’re honored to be part of your early learning community. You can count on Novel Effect to be there for all of your child’s milestones. Everything from their first steps to the first words they read aloud on their own, and far beyond.
Throughout this week, you’ll get tips on the five practices of early literacy and how to build a reading routine. Our librarian has selected books to pair with each practice — Read, Sing, Talk, Play, Write. After enjoying a story, you’ll also receive activity suggestions to build your little learner’s literacy skills.
5 Pillars of Literacy
The key to instilling a reading habit is to establish a routine. If you read to your budding bookworm often, they’re more likely to succeed at learning to read later on. “Read with instead of “read to” because the act of shared reading has proven to be more effective than simply reading in proximity to your child. More on that later!
Bedtime stories are a great way to establish a routine. A beloved classic, Goodnight Moon is a soothing sequencing tale that’ll send your child off to dreamland. Despite how tiring it can be, repeating stories is actually a good thing. Repeated “performances” help kids learn new words faster.
You don’t have to belt “Let It Go” from the car seat or listen to the latest Kidz Bop on repeat if you sing with kids.
Singing helps your child develop phonological awareness (the ability to identify and play with smaller sounds in words). Singing slows down words and separates syllables so it’s easier to hear the different parts of the sounds. Start with nursery rhymes or songs you loved as a kid for an easy jumping-off point. Love You Forever’ offers a sweet example you can carry over into your own rotation.
Research shows that children who come from more talkative families tend to develop a richer vocabulary. For babies and toddlers, language is literacy before they can read. Engage your little one in questions and conversation while you’re reading. Where is Baby’s Belly Button?offers plenty of avenues for questions!
Interpreting gestures as words and incorporating Baby Signsis an excellent way to involve young children with limited language skills in the story. Until our babies can talk, they can quickly learn gestures to indicate everything from hunger to appreciation.
Your child already plays. It’s an easy avenue to add educational elements and literacy practices. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it can’t be intentional! Use new facts and ideas to build on their existing interests. Choose a story with topics they love — trucks, unicorns, farting dinosaurs. Then, create play opportunities together as a way to reinforce concepts from the book you just read.
Pretend play is an especially integral part of language development. As we engage in imaginative activities, they’ll learn new words. With books like Hooray for Hat! and The Button Book, you can also introduce elements of problem-solving and self-regulation.
It’s likely no surprise to learn that infants and toddlers don’t typically have the ability to write a paragraph, sentence, or even a word. Even so, scribbling is still useful at these ages. Giving your child the chance to “write” is a fantastic precursor to the real thing. Their drawings build fine motor skills they’ll need later to form letters and words.
Try Harold and Purple Crayon to inspire a scribble session. Demonstrate writing in front of your child. As you draw together, explain each part of the letters — dots on an i, the slashes of an x, the curl of a c. Even practicing the motions is an excellent way to build those early writing skills.
Using the 5 Pillars
As always, take what works best for you and leave the rest! Find the books mentioned here and many more in our Week of the Young Child collection. Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.
About the Author
Before becoming Novel Effect’s Librarian and Curator, Danielle Fritz was a public librarian. While working in the children’s section, she frequently facilitated storytime and other activities for budding readers.