Early Literacy Skills are skills that children need before they begin to learn to read.  There are 5 simple practices that you can do to help your child develop these skills.


Reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help your child become a reader.  Picture books help build a child’s vocabulary, teach them how a story works and will even bring you closer together with your child.

baby chewing book

For BABIES you can start reading aloud as soon as they are born. Babies are drawn to the sound of your voice and will enjoy the special time you spend reading and cuddling together.  Have board books all over your house so that your child will see that books are a part of their everyday world.  You can check out our list of recommended books for this age, or look for books with the following characteristics:

  • Board books with sturdy pages.
  • Simple, colorful pictures with or without words.
  • Photos of other babies and animals. Also books with familiar objects, people and activities.
  • Simple text and short stories.

Mom daughter readingFor TODDLERS, it may get a little harder to read aloud but try to get at least 15 minutes in a day. Set aside reading time before bedtime or a nap to help your child settle down before sleep.  Keep books handy while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or while sitting in a restaurant.  Also, don’t feel like you have to read an entire book to your squirmy toddler, it’s alright to just look at the pictures and talk about what is happening. To find books appropriate for this age, you can browse our Toddler Collection while visiting the Library, you can check out this list of recommendations or you can look for books with the following characteristics:

  • Clear, bright photos and illustrations with simple stories and predictable text.
  • Books about everyday routines in your child’s day (bathing, eating, bedtime).
  • Interactive books with animal sounds, movement or flaps to lift.
  • Books that appeal to your child’s interests (cars, trucks, princesses, animals).

Preschool boy with bookFor PRESCHOOLERS, books become longer and more complex.  While preschool children are still drawn to books about their world, they are also able to understand humor and enjoy books that engage their imaginations.  You may also want to introduce books with concepts such as counting, colors, ABC’s and opposites.  We’ve compiled a list of books we recommend for preschoolers, or you can look for books with the following:

  • Strong rhymes and word play.
  • Funny characters in funny situations.
  • Engaging action and description.
  • Books that appeal to your child’s interests.

Let your child choose his own books, even if it’s the same title over and over again.  Repetition helps them learn.

For more info and ideas: Center for Early Literacy Learning Parent Guide