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Early Literacy Starts at Birth

It’s never too early to begin building literacy skills! November is Family Literacy Month and we’re starting off with a focus on early literacy (some would even say pre-literacy). 

Since 85-90% of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, exposure to books, words and language is important to set children up for future success. Reading to your child, beginning at birth, helps them build connections in their brain, build vocabulary and be ready for kindergarten. 

Research shows that “children whose caregivers read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard up to 1.4 million more words than those who were not read to.” Reading matters! 

Reading isn’t just for bedtime, either. Having books available around the house and in the car can make reading easy and more accessible any time of the day. To make the most of reading time: 

  • Ask questions about what your child sees or what they think will happen next. 
  • Point out colors, letters and counting. 
  • Let them retell the story back to you. 

Reading together also gives you a chance to step away from the busyness of life and bond with your child. But did you know that reading isn’t the only way to help build literacy skills? Talking to your child is just as important and requires no books or materials! It doesn’t need to be about anything fancy or a particular topic, it can just be about everyday things. Keep it simple and describe what you are doing or the world around you. 

It’s all about words. Keep talking.

  • Tell stories from your childhood or from your imagination. 
  • While driving in the car, shopping, preparing food or helping your child get dressed, talk about what you see or what you are doing. 
  • While shopping in the grocery store, play “I-Spy” or ask questions such as, “which is bigger, the sweet potato or the tomato?”  
  • Have a letter hunt. Using the first letter of your child’s name or any other letter, put your child on the lookout for that letter all around the store. 

Reading and talking to your child every day will build your child’s vocabulary and set them up for school success. Learning opportunities exist all around us in everyday tasks. And remember, you are your child’s first and most important teacher! 

Wondering about your child’s development?

If you have any concerns about your child’s development, our Early Childhood program is a  free community resource. Please give us a call at 763-691-6691.  For more information about early childhood development milestones, visit www.helpmegrowmn.org.

Kim Goodmanson
kgoodmanson@c-ischools.org
763-691-6691