By Amy Dargart-Stewart, FCPL Early Literacy Assistant
All early literacy skills help establish a foundation for children to build upon when they begin the important work of learning to read.
Building print awareness helps children feel comfortable with books and print so they can focus on learning to read. Teaching print awareness involves demonstrating the basics about how to handle and use books, including showing children that words on the page have meaning.
When you point to the parts of a book such as cover, pages, author, illustrator or demonstrate how to hold a book, you are teaching print awareness. Children also need to know that we read English from left to right and top to bottom. Be playful when you are introducing these concepts to children. Hold the book upside down and let children “school” you on the proper way to hold a book and turn the pages. Be sure to have books all around the home including in the toy area and have a basket of books in the car.
Helping children notice print is also part of this concept. When you point to words as you say them, you are showing children that the letters form words and that those words have meaning. Read books with large print and repetitive phrases so you can run your finger under the word as you read it and children will learn that you are reading the word. Books that feature other kinds of writing such as a letter or list are another way to demonstrate to children that print has meaning.
Armed with the basics of how books and print work, children can really put their energy into the hard work of learning to read. Your local librarian is happy to help you with great book suggestions.