Children's Reading Suggestions

Find your next great read here

Early Literacy Resources

early literacy

Literacy skills begin developing at birth.  Beginning with listening to a parent singing or saying a rhyme up through reading and writing independently, children’s experiences with language and books build throughout their lives.  The more early literacy experiences children have, the easier it is for them to learn to read, write and speak.

Engaging in early literacy activities with your child is not the same thing as “teaching reading”…early literacy activities at home build a foundation that is language-rich, fun, and supportive, that fosters reading success down the road.  Early literacy activities can take place anywhere, at any time…during playtime, mealtimes, family outings, bath time, car trips, as well as during more traditional reading-focused events such as storytime, library visits or preschool.

The 6 basic pre-reading skills are:

  • Vocabulary (knowing names for different things)
  • Print motivation (enjoyment of and interest in reading and using books/other print materials)
  • Print awareness (knowledge of reading conventions such as reading left to right, and awareness of the need for reading skills in everyday life)
  • Narrative Skills (being able to tell a story in appropriate sequence and to predict what comes next in a story)
  • Letter Knowledge (knowledge of the names of letters and of the sounds letters make)
  • Phonological Awareness (ability to “play with” parts of words, to make rhymes, to recognize word families)

Pre-writing skills include:

  • Upper body strength
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Hand strength
  • Fine motor skills/pincer grasp

Here are some activities that promote each of the early literacy skills:


  • Name objects with your child
  • List different types of things (e.g. boots, sandals, flip-flops, etc. are types of shoes); see how long a list you can make for different categories
  • Point out objects in book illustrations and name them, even if they aren’t part of the main story

Print motivation

  • Have books at home and check out library books with your child
  • Let your child choose which books to read
  • Read with your child
  • Read books with fun, repetitive phrases and encourage your child to recite familiar parts of stories
  • Substitute silly words while reading favorite picture books; help your child find the right word when they tell you it’s the wrong word

Print Awareness

  • Point out to your child when you use reading and writing in everyday life
  • Make grocery lists together and let your child cross items off the list when you shop
  • Follow text with your finger as you read to your child
  • Write thank you notes with your child
  • Help your child write notes to leave in siblings’ or parents’ pockets, lunch boxes, etc. as a surprise
  • Let your child turn pages while you read
  • Write down stories that your child makes up

Narrative Skills

  • Ask your child to tell you what they did today
  • Read books with your child and ask them to guess what might happen next
  • Read wordless picture books with your child and ask them to tell the story from the pictures
  • Act out stories
  • Write down stories that your child makes up

Letter Knowledge

  • Practice writing letters in fun mediums like shaving cream, sand, pudding, glue and glitter, paint
  • Sing spelling songs like B-I-N-G-O
  • Sing the alphabet song
  • Write letters on cards or pieces of paper and have your kid “swat” the letters you name with a fly swatter
  • Try to think of as many words that start with a particular sound as you can
  • Teach your child the letters in their name
  • Play with alphabet blocks and alphabet magnets

Phonological Awareness

  • Play rhyming games
  • Recite nursery rhymes
  • Sing the “Name Game”
  • Do fingerplays with your child (see below for additional resources)
  • Try to think of as many words that start with a particular sound as you can
  • Sing songs with rhyming lyrics

Upper Body Strength

  • Help carry groceries
  • Help mix/stir in the kitchen
  • Do gymnastics or yoga poses that involve the upper body, such as handstands and bridges
  • Put art materials on an easel and have your child color while standing
  • Encourage children to play on the floor and prop themselves up on forearms and elbows
  • Help sweep or rake
  • Let your child play with magnets on the fridge or another vertical surface

Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Toss bean bags back and forth
  • Play with a paddleball
  • Play with a shape sorter
  • Play with puzzles
  • Roll balls back and forth
  • Try to follow a moving object just by moving the eyes
  • Blow bubbles and watch them float away

Hand Strength

  • Hang and swing on monkey bars
  • Make homemade playdoh and have child squish food coloring into portions of the mixture
  • Squeeze stress balls
  • Write/color with chalk on the sidewalk
  • Use hole punchers to make confetti
  • Let your child use a squirt bottle to help you clean windows
  • Ball up paper that needs to be recycled
  • Squeeze glue out of a bottle and sprinkle glitter on it for a craft project

Fine Motor Skills/Pincer Grasp

  • Put coins in a piggy bank
  • Sort small objects like pieces of cereal, nuts and bolts, or beads
  • Take caps on and off screw-top bottles
  • Pop bubble wrap
  • Tear paper into strips for art projects
  • Play with wind-up toys
  • Teach children how to lace shoes
  • Let child use an eyedropper to add food coloring to water in a squeeze or spray bottle, then let them “write” outside with the colored water
  • Peel stickers off a sticker sheet
  • Do beading craft projects


For more information about the development of pre-literacy skills in young children:

Joan Brooks McLane and Gillian Dowley McNamee. “Beginnings of Literacy.”  Edited from the Zero to Three Journal, September 1991.

Titles available at Brownsburg Public Library about early literacy

Information about the 6 basic pre-reading skills:

Multnomah County Library. “Six Early Literacy Skills”.

Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy. “Six Early Literacy Skills”.

Information about pre-writing skills:

Family Child Care Academy. “Early Literacy–Prewriting Skills.”

Ideas for Early Literacy (Pre-Reading and Pre-Writing Activities):

Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL). CELLPops. (mini-posters with ideas for incorporating literacy activities in daily routines)

Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL). Parent Pages.  (literacy activity guides for parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, in English and Spanish)

Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL). Practice Guides with Adaptations. (literacy activity ideas with adaptations for kids with disabilities)

Get Ready to Read. “Home Literacy Environment Checklist.”

Get Ready to Read. “Understanding Beginning Reading Development in Preschoolers.”

Get Ready to Read. “Understanding Beginning Writing Skills in Preschoolers.”

Brownsburg School Corporation Occupational/Physical Therapy Department blog.  (lots of ideas for fine motor/gross motor activities to promote pre-writing skills)


Reading Techniques for Encouraging Early Literacy Skills:

Dialogic Reading (Multnomah County Public Library)

Reading to Babies and Toddlers (Zero to Three)

Reading to a Baby (Multnomah County Public Library)

Reading to Toddlers (Multnomah County Public Library)

Reading to Preschoolers (Multnomah County Public Library)

How to read wordless picture books (Brownsburg Public Library)

For information about pre-literacy milestones by age:

Reading is Fundamental. “Literacy Milestones from Birth to Age Six.”

Charlotte County Public Schools. “Stages of Normal Pre-writing Skill Development.”

Suggested Reading Lists for Creating a Home Library:

Young Hoosier Book Award Winners (Indiana Library Federation)

Caldecott Medal Winners (Association for Library Service to Children)

Tips for Building a Collection of Books Inexpensively (Reading Rockets)

Books as Gifts Buying Guide (Reading Rockets)

Tips for Choosing Books for Babies and Toddlers (Zero to Three)

Classic Picture Books (Brownsburg Public Library)

Staff Favorites Children’s Books (Brownsburg Public Library)

Wordless Pictures Books (Brownsburg Public Library)

Book Finder Search Tool (PBS)

Comments Off on Early Literacy Resources

Where Are the Words?! Why and how to read wordless picture books with your child

Where are the words?!

Why and How to Read Wordless Picture Books With Your Child

Reading wordless pictures books allows children to flex their imagination muscles, encouraging themto tell a story using their own words and understanding of the illustrations they see.  They practice oral language development, grow their vocabularies, develop a sense of narrative structure and learn to decode illustrations for clues about a story’s plot…all important early literacy skills

Giving children an opportunity to find their own voice through storytelling allows them to practice being creative…and today’s confidently creative children are tomorrow’s innovative scientists, engineers and inventors as well as artists and authors!

Here are some ways to “read” a wordless picture book with your child:wordless picture books

  • Give the characters names
  • Ask your child what they think will happen next
  • Tell the story from different characters’ points of view
  • Ask your child to describe the scenery in the illustrations
  • Make up songs about the pictures
  • Ask your child what they think the characters are feeling and thinking
  • Hunt for repeated characters/visual elements on each page
  • If you are multilingual, tell the same story in different languages
  • Try to tell the story only with onomatopoeia (sound words like “whoosh”, “zoop”, “splut”) or non-words sounds
  • Act out the story with movements
  • Tell the story a different way each time you read it!

Printer-friendly brochure with booklist

Click here for a list of wordless books available at BPL!

Comments Off on Where Are the Words?! Why and how to read wordless picture books with your child