Early Literacy in the Library

by Gwen Vanderhage

In the last decade, public libraries have increasingly been recognized as important partners in reading readiness and kindergarten preparedness in their communities. While most children's librarians are not specifically educated in teaching children reading skills, we are well-versed in making reading fun!

To address calls for help with early literacy, the American Library Association created a parent-engagement program called Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) and identified six skills for early literacy preparedness. In the years since these ECRR skills were introduced, more and more children's librarians have chosen to include talking points about them in their storytime programs.

The six ECRR skills Phonological Awareness, Vocabulary, Narrative Skills, Print Motivation, Letter Knowledge, and Print Awareness, all have significant meaning, but are sometimes complicated to share with young families. ECRR recently introduced five new practice areas to focus on with parents and caregivers to make things simpler. These practice areas are Read, Write, Sing, Play, and Talk with your children.  The fundamental ECRR skills provide the backbone of a storytime, while showing how to practice them at home is the teaching moment for adults.

One example of how a librarian might demonstrate these ideas in storytime would be a shared “reading” of a wordless picture book. The librarian encourages children to help tell the story by examining the illustrations in a book like Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, an activity that develops narrative skills. Or, a librarian might encourage caregivers to incorporate print awareness into their daily lives by talking with their children about the letters and symbols they see on road signs, before reading Backseat A-B-See by Maria Van Lieshout.

Additional Resource:

Zero to Three--2015 State Baby Facts

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