What Is Early Literacy?

Learning to read and write starts before kindergarten

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they learn how to read and write. This can come from reading bedtime stories, teaching the alphabet, playing simple word games, singing songs, and engaging in many other activities.

Why Is Early Literacy So Important?

Early literacy has many benefits for your child, including:

  • Preparing them for school
  • Helping them become better readers
  • Increasing brain development
  • Sparking creativity and imagination
  • Boosting self-confidence

It also allows fosters a love of language and reading, which means you’ve given them a gift for life.

Early Literacy by Age

There are three stages your child will go through up to the age of five as they get ready to read:

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Early Talkers: Birth to 2 years

Children from birth to two years are busy. They are learning about the world around them through sight, touch, taste and smell, as well as sound. They are learning about language by listening to different sounds, babbling in response and seeing how you respond. The more they hear you talk, read aloud or sing, the more they learn.

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Talkers: 2 to 3 years

Children learn a lot of words between the ages of two and three. The more words they hear, the more words they will understand, and the more words they will be able to say. It’s important to read to your child, as this improves their vocabulary and language in preparation for kindergarten.

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Pre-Readers: 4 to 5 years

Four- and five-year-olds are starting to understand that words are made up of different letters and that each letter has its own sound. This is when you can start teaching them the alphabet. Being able to hear the different sounds in each word helps your child to sound out words when they start to read.

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6 Skills by 6 Years

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Have Fun with Books

Make reading enjoyable by choosing books your child loves (even if you’ve read them thousands of times before).

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Notice Print All Around You

Make your child aware that you’re following words and pictures on a page when you read.

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Talk, Talk, Talk

Your child will learn by hearing you and other people talking. Use a wide range of words and explain what they mean.

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Tell Stories about Everything

Tell them about your child’s toys and about the places you go. Make up your own story from a picture book.

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Look for Letters Everywhere

Help your child recognize letters by playing I-spy, singing songs about the alphabet, and looking at road signs.

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Take Time to Rhyme, Sing and Play Word Games

Have fun with your child by teaching rhymes, singing songs and making up silly rhymes together.

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