Building Literacy Every Day

By Pearson Early Learning

Every time you read a book, write a note, sort the laundry, check the TV listings, or recount the day’s happenings, you are using skills young children need to have to be ready to learn to read and write. Here are some simple activities you and your child can do together.

Learning New Words

Name Games
Play simple naming games with your child. You can ask, “What is This?” or “Where is he/she going?” when you go to the grocery store, go on a walk, or sit and look out the window.

Everyday Words
Talk to your child as you do everyday tasks such as sorting the laundry or thinking about what to cook. Explain the piles of laundry, for example, “Here are the dark clothes and here are the white clothes.” Show your child the ingredients you have for making a meal and name them together.

Read and reread books about topics your child is interested in. Learn the names of animals, vehicles, plants, and games together.

Field Trips
Take your child on short trips to new places, such as a florist shop or a park. Talk about what you see along the way and what you see when you get there. When you get home, have your child draw a picture of something he or she saw. Write a caption for the picture.

Job Talk
Go to a familiar place and look for the people who work there. What jobs do they do? What tools do they use?

Listening for Letters and Sounds

Nursery Rhymes
Read, sing, or say nursery rhymes from your childhood. Help your child learn them. Point out the parts that rhyme or have worlds you like to say or hear.

Beginning Sounds
Point out Ways words begin or end. Compare words that start with the same sound, for example, tomato and taco. Ask: “Tomatoes and tacos begin in the same way. Can you hear the t in tomatoes and tacos?”

Rhyming Books
Read books with rhyming words, such as those by Dr. Seuss. Let your child fill in the words as you read them again and again.

Rhyming Riddles
Make up riddles and guessing games using words that rhyme or words that start with the same sounds. For example, “What kind of cake would a snake make? He might make a lake cake.” The rhymes can be silly and fun and will get your child thinking about words and listening for rhymes.

Beginning Reading and Writing

Letter Search
Point out words on signs and in stores. Begin a search for the letter that begins your child’s name. Read the stop signs and the other traffic signs aloud when you are driving with your child. Find letters on products, on signs, and on television. Match the letters with the child’s first or last name. Play “letter of the day,” in which you decide on a letter and go on a hunt for it.

Label a few belongings with your child’s name, for example, a cup or a favorite book. Read the labels together.

Write simple notes to your child. For example, write “I love you” or “Let’s take a walk.” Your child can “write” notes back to you using words or pictures. Take turns reading the notes to each other.

More Beginning Reading and Writing

Shopping Lists
Write shopping lists and to-do lists while sitting next to your child. Provide paper and pencil so the child can make his or her own list. Then, take the list to the grocery store and use it as you shop to show the words on your list have meaning.

Make Words
Make magnetic letters available and play with them on a surface such as the refrigerator. Spell simple words for your child and have him or her repeat them.

Picture Menus
With your child, cut out pictures of food and paste them on sheets of paper to make a menu. You might make pages for breakfast, lunch, and foods. Have your child “read” the menu.

Alphabet Books
Make a book that has a page for each letter of the alphabet. The child can draw or find a picture for each letter and paste it on the page. Write the letter on the page for the child or let him or her do it. Staple the pages together to make a book. Read the book from time to time.

Book Time
Read with your child every day. Start by setting aside 5 or 10 minutes each day. Then gradually increase the time to 30 minutes. Go to the library together. Choose books that go along with the seasons, family holidays, or subjects your child is interested in.

Help your child make cutouts of favorite storybook characters. Your child can use them to dramatize the story as you read and reread it.

Share what you read with your child. Read aloud a portion of the newspaper or a book you are reading. Talk about why reading interests you.

Excerpted from Read Together, Talk Together™: A Dialogic Reading Program for Young Children. Based on research by Grover J. Whitehurst, Ph.D. Copyright © 2003 Pearson Education, Inc. publishing as Pearson Early Learning, New York, New York, 10036.

Read Together, Talk Together™ is a program designed to make reading to young children more enriching by guiding parents, teachers, and caregivers through a simple set of techniques to use while they are reading to toddlers and preschoolers.

The Read Together, Talk Together™ products are available for purchase on the Pearson website.


Suggested Tip!

Read Books New Ways

Does it feel like you’ve read the same story 100 times? Read it a new way: Ask the child questions about what they think will happen next and encourage them to tell you what they see in the illustrations.
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