The Kitsap Regional Library is offering some fantastic programs just for kids, and those programs all promote literacy in different ways and encourage reading. Reading! That’s definitely literacy. But what about our pre-readers? I’ve got five super simple things that you can do with your baby, toddler or preschooler to increase early literacy and I’ll bet you are already doing most of them.

  1. Talk—Talk to your baby. You already do this, but how can you be more intentional about it without taking up more of your very busy day? When you visit the grocery store, point out and name fruits and vegetables. Hey, you could even name the colors while you’re at it! Another great thing to do is to look for shapes when you are walking around. If your child is talking already, ask them to name the shapes that they see. Learning and practicing words, rhymes and sounds is fun and great for developing vocabulary. Babies learn these sounds by listening to and mimicking the adults that they hear, so the more you talk to your baby, the more they are learning.
  2. Sing—Singing lots of songs with your little one is a great way to share special times with one another. It is also a great way to introduce new words to your child. The drawn out vowel sounds and musical tones make it easier to distinguish the different sounds the letters make. The best part? They don’t care whether or not you’re on key.
  3. Read—Of course! Reading is an important part of early literacy. Reading together with your child models how the technology of a book works. We read top to bottom and left to right. They also get to practice their fine motor skills by turning pages. Not all babies will sit still for reading time, but that’s okay! We all learn in different ways, and just because they are moving around it doesn’t mean they’re not listening and learning.
  4. Write—Writing? With babies? You must think I’m being ridiculous, but I’m not! There are lots of ways to practice writing without really writing with a pencil or pen. Baby and toddler hands are not always ready for skinny pens and pencils like we use. Play pat-a-cake with your baby and draw letters in the air with your hands. Put some shaving cream in a plastic freezer bag, squeeze out any extra air and use it as a squishable writing surface for your finger. Maybe even try to make letter shapes out of modeling dough.
  5. Play—Play with your baby! Play is important work for babies and all children. Imaginative play, creative play, and physical play are all fun and help children build connections. Playing with blocks alongside your child can be lots of fun! Build a tower and then knock it down. Peek-a-boo is a great game to play with babies and requires no extra supplies. What are your favorite play time activities?

Our library locations offer a variety of different storytimes, including special storytimes for babies aged 0-18 months and their grown-ups. Our storytimes emphasize lots of different early literacy practices and our youth services librarians try to have something for everyone to get excited about during storytime. We hope to see you this fall!

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