Early Literacy Resources

What Is Early Literacy

Early literacy is what children know about communication, language—verbal and non-verbal—reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Research shows that children get ready to read years before they start school. You can help your preschooler learn important skills now so they can become good readers.

Parents play an important role in getting children ready to read. Why?

  • You are children’s first role model, and they love spending time with you.
  • You know your children best.
  • You can help your children learn reading skills in ways that are easiest for them.
  • Children learn best by doing things. Take every opportunity to read, play, sing, talk and write with your children.

Early Literacy Resources

Babies—Birth to 2

Toddlers—2 to 3

Preschoolers—4 to 5


Early Literacy Library Outreach

Each year, the library's Early Literacy Services Program reaches more than 1,500 preschoolers, parents, caregivers and others in Head Start classrooms, child care centers and many other non-library settings in Fairfax County. The Early Literacy Outreach Manager, part-time staff and volunteers, many former teachers and public librarians, present storytimes to help children and their caregivers learn the skills (see below) preschoolers need to get ready to read.

Getting children ready to read

Have fun with language and literacy by reading, writing, playing, talking and singing with children every day. They will learn essential pre-reading skills that will help them start school ready to learn how to read and write.

Background Knowledge—Learning New Information

  • Read aloud non-fiction books on a variety of subjects.
  • Write, create and illustrate child-made books to show what children are learning.
  • Talk to children about different subjects and allow them to talk you.

Letter Knowledge—Seeing and Knowing ABCs

  • Read alphabet books and talk about the letters, their shapes and the pictures that begin with the letter.
  • Write down children’s first and last names and help them recognize each letter.
  • Sing the alphabet song and other songs with letters, like “Bingo.”

Phonological Awareness—Hearing and Knowing Sounds in Words

  • Read books with alliteration (words with same beginning sounds—raccoons read about racing rabbits)
  • Play simple rhyming games.
  • Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes.

Print Awareness—Using Books and Knowing Words Have Meaning

  • Read books with large print and point to the words as you read them.
  • Write down children’s dictations about their drawings and make sure they see you writing.
  • Play around with orientation of a book. Turn it upside and ask children if you are ready to read it aloud.

Vocabulary—Learning New Words and Concepts

  • Read a variety of books and use child-friendly language to explain the meaning of new words or concepts.
  • Talk often with children and encourage them to use new words when talking with you.
  • Play with new words or concepts by having children act them out.

Print Motivation—The Ready to Read Foundation

When we read, write, play, talk and sing with young children, it gets them excited about books and reading. This positive attitude – called print motivation – lays the foundation needed to support and encourage learning. Once children enjoy hearing books read aloud, it becomes easier to help them learn early literacy skills, and they enter school ready to read and write.

Get children excited about books and learning to read:

  1. Keep early literacy activities enjoyable. No worksheets!
  2. Act silly—read with expression and enthusiastically chant rhymes, sing songs and play games.
  3. Read books children want to hear. Don’t forget to include non-fiction.
  4. Engage children in conversations about what they are reading and learning.
  5. Remember that Fairfax County Public Library wants to help. Visit any branch for book recommendations, storytime schedules and to see other resources designed to support your efforts in getting children ready to read.

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Storytime at Cameron Head Start. October 26, 2016.

Storytime at Cameron Head Start. October 26, 2016.

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