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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.

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Early Literacy Daily Activities

Learning Toys

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. Help children learn important skills now so they can become good readers later.

Take every opportunity to read, play, sing, talk and write with your children. These daily activities will help get children ready to learn.


Tuesday, November 24

Babies and Toddlers: Playing with your child is a bonding experience, but it is also one of the best ways for toddlers to learn language, develop literacy skills and build fine and gross motor skills.

  • Play with toys for developing fine motor skills like play dough, hammering toys and pop beads.

 Preschoolers: Write - Draw your child’s name in big, puffy letters. Help them color in the letters as you say each one.

Naming the letter and its sound will help your child with their letter/sound association which will help them sound out words when they learn to read.

Monday, November 23

Babies and Toddlers: Children who enjoy books will want to learn how to read. Make sure you and your child are in a good mood when reading; stop if your child loses interest and try again later.

  • Let your child turn the pages while you read aloud. 

Preschoolers: Read - Read a book that won a Caldecott Medal. Your branch librarian can help you find one based on what your child likes or search the online catalog for Caldecott Medal books Fairfax County Public Library and put a few on hold. When notified that they are available, you may pick them up curbside or inside the branch.

Reading award winning books is one way to get children excited about books and reading.

Week of November 16

Babies and Toddlers: Toddlers writing looks like scribbles. Provide opportunities for scribbling and introduce activities that help build fine motor skills.

     · Play with play-dough.

Preschoolers: Play - Put on a play of your favorite story. Gather or make simple props and costumes. Show the play to family or friends.

You are retelling the story when you create a play. This helps children understand that stories have a beginning, middle and an end.

Babies and Toddlers: Singing slows down language so your child can hear the smaller sounds in words.

  • Read books you can sing aloud.

Preschoolers: Sing - Here’s a fun turkey rhyme to say with children. A turkey is a funny bird, his head goes wobble, wobble.  And he knows just one word, “Gobble, gobble, gobble.”

When children hear rhyming words, they are hearing the smaller beginning and ending sounds of words which will help them sound out words when they learn to read.

Babies and Toddlers: The more you talk to your child, the more words they will learn. Repetition builds understanding. Children need to hear words many times before understanding the meaning of the word and how to use it.

  • Share books with noisy sounds and make the sounds together.

Preschoolers: Talk - As you tell a story, use new words and tell what they mean.

When you introduce children to new words, you are building up their arsenal of vocabulary which will help them understand what they read because they will be familiar with many words.

Babies and Toddlers:  Playing with your child is a bonding experience, but it is also one of the best ways for toddlers to learn language, develop literacy skills and build fine and gross motor skills.

  • Play with toys for developing large muscles such as balls, ride-on equipment and tunnels to crawl through.

Preschoolers: Write - Ask your child to dictate a letter to a special person. Show how to address an envelope and add a stamp. Then mail the letter together.

This activity shows children how useful print is because they can brighten someone’s day by writing and sending a letter.

Babies and Toddlers: Children who enjoy books will want to learn how to read. Make sure you and your child are in a good mood when reading; stop if your child loses interest and try again later.

  • Let your child choose their own books.

Preschoolers: Read - Read a book about Thanksgiving. Your local branch librarian can help you find a title that you and your child will like.

Reading about Thanksgiving gives children some background knowledge about this holiday which helps with comprehension when they learn to read.


Early Literacy Library Scavenger Hunt

Reviews of E-Books for Preschoolers

Hats are not for cats!

Hats are Not for Cats by Jacqueline Rayner

A cat discovers a hat while out on the prowl, and promptly dons it.  In humorous rhyming text, a dog, wearing a colorful plaid top hat, explains all the reasons why cats should not wear hats. Not hats with stripes or polka dots.  Dogs wear hats, cats do not. Until the cat, with many kitty friends, turns things around once and for all. The charming watercolor illustrations add to the whimsical feel of the story. 


A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson 

Doug is a dog, and Doug likes to dig! Through rhyming text and clever art, the reader follows Doug’s digging adventures.  Doug digs east and west, north and south, as he adventures around the world, encountering people and creatures of all sorts.  Finally Doug makes it back home, and settles into his bed, only to dream of ... digging.

Early Literacy Tip:  Rhyming is one component of the early literacy skill called Phonological Awareness.  Phonological Awareness is the ability to play with the sounds in a words, and helps children become familiar with the sounds of language as they learn to read. After reading Hats are Not for Cats or A Dog Named Doug, play some rhyming games with your child.  Explain that words that rhyme sound alike at the end, such as “cat” and “hat.”   Ask your child to think of other words that rhyme with “cat” or “dog.”

Don't touch this book!

Don’t Touch this Book by Bill Cotter
Larry the lovable monster from Don’t Push the Button is back with another interactive story. This time Larry warns the reader not to touch the book. When the inevitable happens, surprises abound.  A fun invitation to create and explore through reading and movement.   

Early Literacy Tip: Young children learn best through movement, so encourage your child to engage with the story by following Larry’s instructions to wiggle, spin and move.  The sillier, the better!  


The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Ruth Chan
No sooner does a family leaves on vacation than an array of forest animals arrives to enjoy all the comforts of home.  The bears come first, followed by beavers bearing ice cream, deer with a karaoke machine and many more. They all enjoy relaxing on in the great indoors, but as sometimes happens, after a few days, things become a less than perfect. Soon, everyone is ready to go back to the forest.  They all agree though. It was a great week, and they’ll do it again next year.   

Early Literacy Tip:  Talk with your child about what will happen next in the story.  When the family returns home at the end of the story, what do they think?  Are they surprised by what they find?  Help your child write and draw the next few pages of the story.  



E-Books for Preschoolers

Checkout e-books using Overdrive or RBdigital

Baby on Board by Marianne Berkes
You know that babies are carried by grownups, but do you know how animal parents carry their babies? This book looks at a variety of different animals and displays how the mother and/or father carries their baby.

Bears on Chairs by Shirley Parenteau
Four chairs. Four cuddly bears. All is well until Big Brown Bear shows up and wants a seat.

Breaking news: Bear alert

Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki
Two bears awaken from hibernation and go to town—literally. During their visit, they eat at a diner, dress up at a department store and stop a couple of bank robbers, all the while mistaking the townspeople's terror for friendliness.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

A Different Now by Angela Johnson
Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Fight Pollution, Big Bird! by Jennifer Boothroyd
Young readers learn all about pollution and how to protect earth with Big Bird and his Sesame Street friends. Keep water clean, pick up litter and recycle to help stop pollution.

A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson
Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews's distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
In this Chinese American retelling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda's rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.

Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima
Harriet loves costumes. She wears them to the dentist, to the supermarket and most importantly, to her super-special dress-up birthday party.

Hooray for You! by Marianne Richmond
Hooray for You! is a celebration of You-Ness, the grand sum of mind, body and heart that makes every person truly unique. Look in the mirror. Love who you see. Stand tall. Smile big. Shout, "Hooray for me!" A welcome appreciation of the wonderfulness in us all.

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up by Kenneth Wright
Determined to decide what to be when she grows up, Lola tries several careers before listening to her friend, Bear, who reminds her that she need not be in a hurry.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
Lola plants a flower garden with her parent's help, and watches it grow.

The Ninjabread Man by Katrina Charman
In a terrific twist on the original tale of The Gingerbread Man, follow the amazing Ninjabread Man as he dips and dives out of danger.

On Kiki’s Reef by Carol Malnor
A tiny baby sea turtle scrambles across the sandy beach and into the sea. Floating far out in the ocean, Kiki is becoming a gentle giant. She swims to shallower water where a rainbow of corals puts on a show. Kiki adopts the busy coral reef as her new home and discovers fish of all sizes.

Over in the Forest by Marianne Berkes
Children learn the ways of forest animals to the rhythm of "Over in the Meadow" as they leap like a squirrel, dunk like a raccoon and pounce like a fox. They will also count the babies and search for ten hidden forest animals.

Trucks! by Charles Reasoner
Follow a day in the life of Truck while he is at work.

Yasmin the explorer

Yasmin the Explorer by Saadia Faruqi
When Yasmin's father explains to her about explorers and maps, Yasmin decides to make a map of her neighborhood and she brings it along on a trip to the farmers' market with her mother.

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
Learning about opposites has never been more fun or funny. Spaghetti is yummy, but worms, blue crayons and sand are definitely yucky when tasted.

July 2020

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