Skip to Main Content
Fairfax County logo

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. Last Updated: Jul 17, 2024 9:17 AM


Image showing a launchpad and launchpad casesLaunchPads are guided learning tablets with pre-loaded apps, stories, and videos, generally around a particular theme. They do not connect to the internet. These multi-sensory learning tools bring together a combination of sound, sight, and interactive play, giving kids the tools to learn the way they learn best. The library has three specific types of launchpads currently: Pre-K Academy, Reading Academy, and STEAM Academy.

Circulation Policy

  • LaunchPads may be borrowed for 3 weeks. They are renewable, if there is no wait list
  • They may be placed on hold for pickup at any branch.
  • There are no fines.

About this item:

  • Replacement cost is $141.09
  • They use a standard micro-USB for charging
  • Launchpads come in a case and have a heavy duty tablet cover built for kids
    • It stands up to drops from child height (and short adults, as this 5' adult can attest); we did not test throwing, so please do not use while very frustrated or playing catch.
    • The face is a touchscreen and can be broken, so be careful not to set face down, especially on something pointy.
  • This is still a tablet and an electronic device, so keep away from liquids. 


Pre-K Academy launchpads

The Pre-K Academy groups certain developmental skills into 5 different paths and offers many ways for preschool-aged children to practice, develop, and succeed within each path. Using this Academy can help develop the skills needed to enter their first year of school and perhaps inspire them to try new things with confidence.

View only pre-k academy launchpads in the catalog.      View all launchpads in the catalog.

Path A: Motor & Cognitive

  • Support critical thought processes
  • Aid in fine motor skill development
  • Explore large muscle movements through play
  • Encourage personal care and daily routine support
  • Build hand-eye coordination

Path B: Math & Science

  • Identify numbers & count from 1-20
  • Learn basic shapes & colors
  • Practice patterns, measuring & comparing
  • Observe nature & environment

Path C: Language & Literacy

  • Build vocabulary
  • Listen and follow directions
  • Identify & recite letters
  • Develop an interest in stories

Path D: Social & Emotional

  • Organize thoughts
  • Problem-solve through reasoning
  • Express emotions & needs
  • Understand cooperation
  • Explore independence

Path E: Music & Creativity

  • Explore imagination and pretend play
  • Interpret music through movement
  • Learn to draw with lines & shapes
  • Sing and express emotion creatively

Reading Academy launchpads

Reading Academy is a guided reading system that helps children master verbal, reading, and writing skills. There are 5 levels, so children can start with their current reading level and go from there.

View only reading academy launchpads in the catalog.      View all launchpads in the catalog.

Level 1: Pre-emerging


  • Fountas & Pinnell: Decodable Books AA
  • Lexile: BR40L - 70L
  • Ages: 3+


  • Verbal
    • Forms 3 to 4 word sentences
    • Can talk and carry on conversation
    • Continues to grow vocabulary
  • Reading
    • Listens to stories, simple songs, and nursery rhymes
    • Recognizes letters and letter sounds
    • Knows most letter sounds
  • Writing
    • Early letter writing
    • Connects thoughts to pictures

Level 2: Emerging


  • Fountas & Pinnell: A-C
  • Lexile: BR40L - 160L
  • Ages: 4+


  • Verbal
    • Asks questions to confirm understanding
    • Knows letter sounds
  • Reading
    • Recognizes basic sight words
    • Identifies patterns of text with picture support
    • Understands print concept of left to right
  • Writing
    • Spells short vowel words and blends
    • Uses drawing, dictating and writing to compose text

Level 3: Early Developing


  • Fountas & Pinnell: D-J
  • Lexile: 160L - 510L
  • Ages: 5+


  • Verbal
    • Asks questions to clarify uncertainty
    • Participates in collaborative conversation
  • Reading
    • Understands the organization of print
    • Distinguishes long vowel vs short vowel words
  • Writing
    • Write text with simple facts
    • Begins to spell long vowel words with patterns

Level 4: Developing


  • Fountas & Pinnell: J-M
  • Lexile: 510L - 660L
  • Ages: 7+


  • Verbal
    • Can recount a story with descriptive detail
    • Asks for clarification when needed
  • Reading
    • Starts to decode unknown long vowel words
    • Reads text with accuracy
  • Writing
    • Writes using a topic
    • Will spell more complex, long vowel words

Level 5: Independent


  • Fountas & Pinnell: N-P
  • Lexile: 660L - 820L
  • Ages: 8+


  • Verbal
    • Will explore ideas for discussion
    • Engages in conversation
  • Reading
    • Reads with understanding and purpose
    • Reads and comprehends literature proficiently
  • Writing
    • Constructs text in an organized manner
    • Uses transitional and link words

STEAM Academy launchpads

STEAM Academy launchpads are designed to create well-rounded problem solvers who ask questions like "how?" and "why?" It is an interdisciplinary approach that weaves together the science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills learned in the classroom and connects them to things kids see every day. The guided learning helps students understand how these subjects come together to create architecture, music, well-designed products, and much more. They help develop the critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems with their own innovative solutions.

View only STEAM academy launchpads in the catalog.      View all launchpads in the catalog.

Creation & Sound module

The goal of the Creation & Sound Module is to teach kids how creativity and self-expression apply to identifying and solving problems. Topics in this module include art, sound, color, tempo, rhyming, and literature.

Engineering & Design module

The goal of the Engineering & Design Module is to teach kids to recognize challenges, turn them into opportunities, and identify scalable solution to solve them. Topics in this module include puzzles, invention, construction, machines, architecture, and curiosity.

Nature & Environment module

The goal of the Nature & Environment Module is to ignite kids' curiosity to explore the connectedness of the natural world around them. Topics in this module include cause and effect, biology, plants, weather, geology, and wildlife.

Technology & Space module

The goal of the Technology & Space Module is to build kids' fascination with the solutions of tomorrow and get them excited to look beyond the world they see today. Topics in this module include mechanics, astronomy, robotics, coding, and communication.

Evaluation & Calculation module

The goal of the Evaluation & Calculation Module is to teach kids to identify and analyze the details, data, and patterns that define the world around them. Topics in this module include quantification, research, algebraic thinking, statistics, association, and measurement.


Fairfax County seal