Experiencing Early Literacy

Can you think back to your earliest memories of experiencing literature? When I consider this, I am taken back to classic favorites, family library trips and asking for “just one more story” before bed. While the memories may be distant, these early days of literacy would actually become significant building blocks for mine, and your future growth and learning!

Students that are read to regularly at a young age, tend to develop stronger vocabulary and literacy skills. Early language and literacy as well as reading and writing development begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. The interactions that young children have with literacy materials (books, paper, crayons, etc), along with the interactions they have with the adults in their lives, are the foundation for future language, reading, and writing development!

When we think of reading as less of an act and more of an experience, we can begin to see how closely it is actually interlaced with social and cognitive development. When we engage in a shared reading experience with a child, we are co-constructing meaning! Through this ‘experience,’ we are modelling connections to characters, connections to real life, social dynamics, real world problems and more.

Ways to model connection to a story book when reading with your child ...

  • Text to Text: Does this remind us of something else we’ve read? eg) “Hey buddy, do you remember that story we got from the library last month that also had a funny song?”

  • Text to Self: Does this remind us of something in our lives? eg) “Wow, the celebration in this book makes me think of the way that our family celebrates Christmas - we also have a special tradition that we do every year.”

  • Text to World: Does this remind us of something in the real world? eg) “The dog in this story is so smart, remember when we drove past the service dog that was helping the lady cross the street? That was so cool! Do you remember what a service dog is?”

When we read aloud, we also ...

  • Build vocabulary

  • Build phonemic awareness

  • Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure

  • Create background knowledge

  • Provide a reading role model + inspire children

  • Plant the desire to read

  • Give children confidence to express likes and dislikes