Emergent literacy is the set of skills little ones develop prior to learning to read. Every interaction little ones have with books, stories, hearing spoken language, telling their own stories all prepare little ones to learn to read. Emergent literacy is what your child needs to know BEFORE he or she can learn to read. Focusing on these early literacy skills takes the pressure off “teaching your child to read” and brings the enjoyment and fun back into the time you spend together enjoying books and stories. This enjoyment is key for our first skill, print motivation!
Check out all 6 Emergent Literacy Skills:
Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills
I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably say it again in the future: I love the library. It’s always been a happy place for me. To pass that along to my little ones, I love to take them to the library. And I must admit, the library makes it easy by providing programs appropriate for little ones.
The other day I had the opportunity to go to the library all by myself to participate in a program appropriate for me! I am a laptime teller at the library. (Laptime is one of the programs for little ones.) Each year the library offers a series of workshops to help us be better tellers. This year the first two workshops are devoted to Emergent Literacy. Literacy is such an important part of growing up and succeeding as an adult so I thought I’d share what we are learning about how to encourage and motivate little ones in their literacy development.
Emergent Literacy Skill #1
Print Motivation means thinking that books and reading are pleasant. When little ones have a pleasant experience with reading, they are more motivated to want to read again. From creating a cozy reading corner, to being positive and happy when we read together, we are huge influencers on our little ones’ experiences with reading.
How do we provide the best reading experience for our little ones? We make going to the library a pleasant experience. We create a cozy environment for reading with our little ones. We share our own passion for reading. We let our little ones choose their own books from the library. When considering print motivation, it is crucial to let your child take the lead. If reading time is your little one running around holding a book and a teddy bear while you recite nursery rhymes, that’s success! Remember, you are building feel-good memories with the written language for your little one. If your little one isn’t enjoying it, they are losing motivation to do it again. There is no ideal picture of what this should look like. Really! A smile on your face and on your little one’s face are the most important markers of a successful reading time together.
Some new things I learned about Print Motivation: Use nonfiction books to help children understand the word around them. I’ve actually done this, unknowingly! Sammi watched construction crews work on our road for days last summer. She asked me “What’s that?” a thousand times. She was not satisfied with my answers, “It makes the road flat.” “It digs.” “It pours the asphalt.” She wanted names and she wanted them FAST! So we went to the library and found some books on construction vehicles and learned all their names. Now she has learned (1)books have information and (2)when Mommy doesn’t know, go to the library! What great lessons to learn at such a young age.
The goal here is to help little ones have successful experiences with books and other forms of print. They will look forward to spending time with books.
So when people knowingly and unknowingly ask about your child’s progress in reading, tell them you’re working on emergent literacy! “What is emergent literacy?” is bound to follow and you can remind them of the important skills little ones must develop prior to reading. These may not match their idea of reading, but they are crucial to reading success later on.
What have you done to create a pleasant experience with books in your family?