Raising a Reader

Experts have identified activities that can help your child get ready to read. Engaging children in these simple activities every day can help them develop early literacy skills.

Babies aged 0 – 18 months can benefit from these activities:

1. Talking

Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation. Talking, telling stories, and stretching conversations are ways children learn new information, new vocabulary, and other early literacy skills.

2. Writing

Reading and writing go together. Both are ways to represent spoken words and to communicate information. As children scribble and draw, they practice eye-hand coordination and exercise the muscles in their fingers and hands. This helps develop fine motor control they need to hold a pencil or crayon and to write letters and words.

3. Reading

No matter what the age, reading to your child is the single most important activity that you can do to help your child get ready to read. It introduces children to “rarer” words that they may not hear in everyday conversation. Shared reading develops a love of reading and an appreciation of books. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read.

Talking Activities
  • Talk to your baby while dressing him/her.
    • “What should we do today?”
    • “We’re going to the park.”
    • “Let’s put on your red dress.”
  • Name body parts, colors, clothing.
    • “Let’s get your arm through.”
    • “Where’s your belly?”
    • “Mommy’s going to get your toes!”
  • Name objects while on a walk.
    • “Look at that green tree.”
    • “Do you hear that dog barking?”
    • “The blue sky is so pretty.
Writing Activities
  • Practice eye-hand coordination and exercise their fingers and hands.
    • Give toys such as rattles, board or cloth books, and large plastic rings to them.
  • Read books.
    • Reading and writing go together. Read to your baby.

Learn more

Parents and caregivers, here are some books on writing for babies.

Reading Activities
  • Read books.
    • Read to your baby every day.
  • Point.
    • Point out words and objects on a page while you say them.
  • Read symbols.
    • “Read” symbols aloud, like stop sign, library, etc…

Learn more

Parents and caregivers, here are some books on reading for babies.

4. Playing

Play is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. Play helps children to think symbolically; a ruler becomes a magic wand, today becomes a time when dinosaurs were alive, a playmate becomes an astronaut exploring space. Play helps children understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences. Dramatic play helps develop narrative skills as children make up a story about what they’re doing. This helps them understand that stories happen in an order (first, next, last).

5. Singing

Songs help children develop listening skills and pay attention to the rhythms and rhymes of spoken language. Singing slows down language so children can hear different parts of words and notice how they are alike and different. Clapping along to rhythms help children hear the syllables in words, and it improves motor skills.

Playing Activities
  • Play games.
    • Teach your baby pat-a-cake.
    • Play peek-a-boo.
  • Explore.
    • Allow your baby to lie on the floor (on a baby gym) and explore the world around him/her.
  • Use toys.
    • Provide plenty of toys like soft blocks, stacking rings, and books.
Singing Activities
  • Sing.
    • Sing to your baby every day.
  • Make up songs.
    • Throughout the day, make up songs about every day things.
  • Play music.
    • Instead of having televsion on or as background noise, put music (or a music channel) on.