Early Literacy Tips for Parents: How to Promote Reading at Home

Looking for early literacy tips? As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life. And one of the best ways to do this is by promoting early literacy skills. By providing opportunities for your child to develop these skills, you can set them up for success - in school and beyond.

In this article, we will provide a range of early literacy tips for parents. Whether your child is a baby, toddler, or preschooler, these early literacy tips offer practical ways to support your child's early literacy development and build reading skills at home. 

What is early literacy and why is it important?

Early literacy refers to the development of language and literacy skills in young children, typically from birth to age five. These skills include speaking and listening, recognizing letters and sounds, and understanding the meaning of words and sentences.

Emergent literacy is a critical component of a child's overall development - and future success in school and life. Here are some reasons why early literacy is so important:

  • Builds a foundation for academic success - research shows that children exposed to books and reading from an early age have better language and literacy skills when they start school. As a result, these children also typically perform better academically.

  • Fosters a love of learning - when children develop a love of reading and learning from an early age, they are more likely to enjoy school and continue learning throughout life.

  • Boosts cognitive development - early literacy skills promote cognitive development, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and memory skills.

  • Enhances language and communication skills - reading to children exposes them to a wide range of vocabulary, sentence structures, and grammar. When parents read to their children, they also model proper pronunciation, intonation, and inflection. Thus, reading to your child will help them develop speaking and listening skills.

  • Improves social-emotional development - reading books and discussing stories can help children develop social-emotional skills, including empathy and self-awareness.

  • Promotes self-esteem and confidence - children who develop strong early literacy skills often have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. That’s because reading offers a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, reading helps children better understand the world around them, which can boost confidence in social situations.

You can help your child develop emergent literacy skills by using the early literacy tips below. But what are these skills? Before we explore early literacy tips for parents, let’s examine the specific skills your child needs to succeed.

Essential Early Literacy Skills

Early literacy skills are the foundation for learning to read and write. But, you may wonder - what are early literacy skills? 

Below is a checklist of the most important early literacy skills your child needs to succeed.

  • Phonological Awareness - the ability to hear and identify the sounds in words. For example, rhyming, alliteration, and syllables.

  • Vocabulary - knowing the meaning of words and being able to use them in context.

  • Print Awareness - understanding that print carries meaning, knowing how to hold a book, and being able to follow words from left to right and top to bottom.

  • Letter Knowledge - recognizing letters and knowing their names and sounds.

  • Narrative Skills - understanding the structure of stories and being able to retell them in their own words.

  • Print Motivation - having an interest in and enjoyment of books and reading.

  • Writing - knowing how to hold a pencil, write letters and words, and communicate through writing.

  • Background Knowledge - knowing about the world around them, including people, places, and things.

Ready to learn how you, as a parent, can promote these skills? Here are our early literacy tips for parents.

Parent reading a book to a child as part of early literacy promotion at home

5 Early Literacy Tips for Parents

As a parent, you play a key role in promoting early literacy. Below are tips on how you can support your child's early literacy development and build reading skills at home. 

Please note: the following early literacy tips are general strategies that can help all parents facilitate emergent literacy skills. However, below this, you will also find early literacy tips specific to your child’s age and development level.

  1. Start early - early literacy skills begin to develop from birth. So, it's never too early to start promoting these skills!
  2. Make it fun - early literacy activities should be fun and engaging for both you and your child. For example, use silly voices when reading, play word games, and make up stories together.
  3. Read every day - reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to promote emergent literacy skills. Even if it's just for a few minutes, consistency is key. That said, many parents find it challenging to make time to read with their children every day. But there’s no need to worry! The benefits of audiobooks are equivalent, in many ways, to reading with your child. Thus, a reading app for kids that offers read-aloud stories, like Booka, is an excellent tool for promoting early literacy skills.
  4. Use a variety of reading materials - providing your child with a variety of reading materials is essential because it exposes them to different types of language and vocabulary. So, be sure to offer your child various reading options, such as books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, and more.
  5. Talk to your child - engaging in conversation with your child will help them build their language skills. In addition, having conversations encourages them to communicate their thoughts and ideas.

Now, let’s explore some specific early literacy tips for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Early Literacy Tips for Babies

Babies are born ready to learn! Thus, parents can start promoting early literacy skills from infancy. 

Here are some early literacy tips for babies.

  • Talk to your baby - from the moment your baby is born, talking to them is one of the most important things you can do to support their language development. Talk to your baby throughout the day, describing what you're doing, pointing out objects, and responding to their coos and babbles.

  • Read to your baby - even though your baby may not understand the words, reading to them is a great way to promote early literacy. Choose kids’ books with simple pictures and bright colors, and read in a soft, soothing voice.

  • Sing to your baby - singing songs and lullabies is another great way to promote emergent literacy in babies. It helps them develop an ear for language and promotes bonding between parent and child.

  • Play with your baby - playtime offers an excellent opportunity to promote early literacy skills! You can help your baby develop these skills by choosing toys that encourage language development. For example, soft books, rattles, and toys with different textures and sounds.

  • Use everyday moments to promote learning - everyday moments, such as diaper changes and feeding times, can also be used to encourage emergent literacy skills. Talk to your baby about what you're doing and use simple words to describe the objects around them.

Promoting early literacy in babies is all about talking, reading, singing, playing, and using everyday moments to facilitate learning. Using these tips and strategies, you can help your baby build a foundation for strong literacy skills.

Is your child a little older or more advanced? Let’s explore some early literacy tips for toddlers.

Early Literacy Tips for Toddlers

Toddlers are curious and eager to learn. Therefore, this presents the perfect opportunity for literacy skill development. 

Here are some early literacy tips for toddlers.

  • Read every day - reading to your toddler is essential for promoting emergent literacy skills. Choose books with simple stories and bright, colorful pictures, and encourage your toddler to point to and name objects in the pictures.

Looking for fun and colorful books for your toddler? Download the Booka reading app for kids to access hundreds of books all in one place!

  • Encourage your toddler to talk - encourage your toddler to speak by asking them questions and responding to their questions and comments. Use simple words and short sentences, and repeat new words often.

  • Sing songs and rhymes - singing songs and rhymes helps toddlers develop phonological awareness and a love for language. Choose songs and rhymes with simple words and actions, and encourage your toddler to sing and dance along.

  • Play with letters and sounds - playing games with letters and sounds will help your toddler develop phonological awareness and letter knowledge. For example, play "I Spy" using objects that begin with a particular sound or letter.

  • Visit the library - visiting the library is a great way to expose your toddler to new books and promote a love of reading. Many libraries also offer storytime programs for toddlers, which provide a great opportunity for social interaction and learning.

To promote early literacy skills in toddlers, parents should focus on reading, talking, singing, playing, and exposing them to new books and experiences. Using the strategies above, you can help your toddler develop the emergent literacy skills they need to succeed!

Finally, let’s explore some early literacy tips for preschoolers.

Early Literacy Tips for Preschoolers

Preschoolers are developing their reading and writing skills - and are eager to learn more. Therefore, this is a critical time for encouraging early literacy and building reading skills at home.

Here are some early literacy tips for preschoolers.

  • Read daily - at this age, reading to your child every day is vital. Encourage your preschooler to choose their own books and read with enthusiasm and expression. Ask your preschooler questions about the story and encourage them to make predictions.

Not sure what books to read with your child? Check out our article on what makes a good children’s book to help you find the best stories to promote early literacy.

  • Practice writing - encourage your preschooler to practice writing by providing them with various writing materials, such as pencils, crayons, and markers. Encourage them to draw pictures and write their own name.

  • Play with words - like with toddlers, playing word games with your preschooler will help them develop phonological awareness. In addition, word games can help build vocabulary. For example, you can play rhyming games or ask your preschooler to name words that begin with a specific letter.

  • Encourage storytelling - encourage your preschooler to tell stories by providing them with props, such as puppets or dress-up clothes. Ask your preschooler to tell you a story and write it down for them to read later.

  • Visit the library and attend storytime - visiting the library and attending storytime programs provides opportunities for learning and social interaction. The library is also a great place to encourage your preschooler to choose their own books.

Don’t have time to visit the library? Check out Booka’s extensive digital library - no need to leave the house and no late fees!

Ready to put these early literacy tips for parents into action? Booka can help.

Promote Early Literacy with the Help of the Booka Reading App for Kids

Booka is a great learning tool designed to help parents promote early literacy. Here’s how Booka can help you encourage emergent literacy and build reading skills at home.

  • Access to various types of books - Booka provides access to numerous kinds of books, including read-aloud books, picture books, chapter books and more.

  • Read-aloud options - Booka’s Read to Me feature allows children to listen to a story being read aloud while following along with the words. So, even when you don't have time to read with your child, they can benefit from daily reading.

Looking for great read-aloud and audiobooks for your child and the whole family? Check out our list of the best audiobooks for kids.

  • Numerous subjects and topics of interest - from books about animals to books that teach life lessons, Booka includes options for all interests.

Providing your child with books they are interested in is essential for encouraging a love of reading. In addition, it is an effective strategy for parents wondering how to help a child with reading difficulties.

  • Ability to choose their own books - Booka makes it easy for children to choose their own books. Plus, the Booka Reads feature provides an automatically generated feed of picture books based on your child's interests - so choosing the right story is simple!

  • Access to books anytime, anywhere - with an extensive library of kids’ books, your child will never run out of reading material. Most importantly, as long as you have WiFi, your child will have access to professionally written children’s books wherever you are in the world!

Want to give Booka a try? Read for free with our 7-day trial.

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