Young children show interest in books and print in lots of ways! Infants might want to help hold books, gaze at colorful pictures, or put books in their mouths. Toddlers and young children will ask you to reread a favorite book, chime in during familiar parts of the story, and reenact stories with a doll or stuffed animal. They begin to make their own marks on paper, scribble, and then draw as a way to communicate. As young children watch adults write, they develop the understanding that print conveys meaning and begin to imitate adults by “pretend writing” before learning symbols and letters. During the preschool years, children start to show interest in writing and print in their environment (cereal box, store sign), and may ask “What does this say?”
Emergent literacy is the idea that getting ready to learn to read and write is a process that begins much earlier and unfolds over time. There is no need to rush children or try to teach infants and toddlers to read, but it is important for families to make lots of books available to young children, to read to children as much as possible (in their home language whenever possible), and to allow them to play with tools for writing and drawing. While you are building a foundation of skills needed for reading and writing, you are also building vocabulary and language skills!
The activities in this section provide ways for families to instill a love of reading in their children and support emerging reading and writing skills.