Early literacy starts before babies can talk

| March 23, 2016

By Sam Leyvas / First Things First 

Sam Leyvas

Sam Leyvas. Courtesy photo.

Every year, throughout March, classrooms across the nation celebrate the birthday of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss by hosting reading events for elementary school children.

Did you know that early literacy starts way before a child reaches a classroom? It begins before babies can talk and continues as they become toddlers and preschoolers. In fact, studies have linked the number of words children know at ages 3 and 4 to their reading comprehension levels at ages 9 and 10.

Strong early literacy skills are developed when young children hear a variety of words from their families and at child care and preschool; when they have the opportunity to practice their growing vocabulary with adult caregivers and other children; and, when they are exposed to books from an early age.

It is said that children are made readers in the laps of their parents. Families can help foster early language and literacy skills in various ways.  Read with young children from the day they are born. Even very young babies respond to the warmth of a lap and the soothing sound of a book being read aloud.  And, no matter your child’s age, help their vocabulary grow through your daily interactions:  describe what you’re doing; read signs and labels aloud; sing songs; and, make up rhymes.

There are several resources to help families instill a love of reading in their young children. First Things First’s YouTube page hosts videos that demonstrate how to read with infantstoddlers and preschoolers. And, Read On Arizona, an FTF partner that engages communities in supporting early literacy for kids birth to 8 years old, has an early literacy guide and book suggestions for every developmental stage on their website, readonarizona.org.

This year, Read Across America Day focused on the poignant words in the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! When children are exposed to language and books in their early years, there’s no limit to where they can go!

— Sam Leyvas is the chief executive officer at First Things First. He can be contacted at Twitter:  @samleyvas, Email:  sleyvas@azftf.govFor more tips and tools for supporting quality and healthy development in the first five years, visit www.FirstThingsFirstAZ.gov.

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Category: Education

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