Parents with a child.

Building Early Literacy Skills

There are six early literacy skills children need to develop to become good readers. This can seem a bit overwhelming but children are natural learners and the more words children are exposed to through conversation, music and books, the more likely they are to develop these skills. 

  1. Oral language: speaking, listening, and communication skills
  2. Phonological awareness: ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  3. Print awareness: knowledge that print has meaning and how to handle a book
  4. Letter knowledge: knowing that letters have different shapes and represent sounds and that letters are different from shapes or numbers
  5. Vocabulary: knowing the meanings of words
  6. Background knowledge: prior knowledge about the world before a child enters school

Here are five simple practices you can incorporate into your daily routine that support the development of these skills. The bonus is that this is also quality bonding time with your child:

  1. Talk: Talking with children helps them learn words. Talking is one of the most critical early literacy skills. Children learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation. For babies, this may start off as babbling and evolves into full sentences by the time your child is five.
  2. Sing: Singing with children helps develop the sounds that make up words.  Singing slows down spoken words so children can hear the different sounds that make up the words.
  3. Play: Playing is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. The activities during play, like building with blocks or kicking a ball, helps them to put thoughts into words and talk about what they are doing.
  4. Read: Reading together helps with building vocabulary and comprehension and can nurture a love for reading. Asking questions while reading a story with your child helps them find a greater meaning in the words and illustrations.
  5. Write: Children become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words as they see words used in their daily lives. Tracing letters on their hand or writing words down on paper helps your little one make this connection.

How to Build Early Literacy Skills

Watch examples of easy ways to incorporate early literacy practices with your little one.

Early Literacy Spotlight: SING

Early Literacy Spotlight: SING
Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: CANTAR

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: CANTAR

Early Literacy Spotlight: WRITE

Early Literacy Spotlight: WRITE

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: ESCRIBIR

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: ESCRIBIR

Early Literacy Spotlight: PLAY

Early Literacy Spotlight: PLAY

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: JUGAR

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: JUGAR

Early Literacy Spotlight: READ

Early Literacy Spotlight: READ

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: LEER

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: LEER

Early Literacy Spotlight: TALK

Early Literacy Spotlight: TALK

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: HABLAR

Enfoque de alfabetización Temprana: HABLAR

Setting Children Up for Success

Sign your little one up for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, watch Storytime Anytime! and explore the Early Literacy Calendar.


1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is a fun, exciting and free program that encourages the love of reading. Children can earn fun rewards while caregivers learn important tips that can help their child become successful readers.

Start Reading 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.


Storytime Anytime! 

Enjoy a prerecorded storytime at home or on the go with Storytime Anytime! or Bilingual Storytime Anytime! This is a condensed version of our in-person storytimes and includes a variety of songs, stories, rhymes and caregiver tips designed to promote and reinforce literacy and language development. A new storytime is available Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Watch Storytime Anytime!


Early Literacy Activity Calendar AprilEarly Literacy Calendar of Activities

Download the April Early Literacy Calendar for more fun ideas and activities to help keep the learning going, all day long.

See past activities:

March Early Literacy Calendar
February Early Literacy Calendar


Books To Read