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Developing Early Literacy Skills

reading to a baby

There are many milestones on the road to reading success. Keep in mind that kids develop at different paces and spend varying amounts of time at each stage. Homes full of language and book reading can build an environment for reading milestones to happen.  If you have concerns, talk to your child’s doctor.  Early intervention is the key to helping a struggling reader.


Infants (Up to Age 1)
Kids usually begin to:
  • imitate sounds they hear in language
  • respond when spoken to
  • look at pictures
  • reach for books and turn the pages with help
  • respond to stories and pictures by vocalizing and patting the pictures
Toddlers (Ages 1–3)
Kids usually begin to:
  • answer questions about and identify objects in books — such as "Where's the cow?" or "What does the cow say?"
  • name familiar pictures
  • use pointing to identify named objects
  • pretend to read books
  • finish sentences in books they know well
  • scribble on paper
  • know names of books and identify them by the picture on the cover
  • turn pages of board books
  • have a favorite book and request it to be read often
Early Preschool (Age 3)
Kids usually begin to:
  • explore books independently
  • listen to longer books that are read aloud
  • retell a familiar story
  • recite the alphabet
  • begin to sing the alphabet song with prompting and cues
  • make continuous symbols that resemble writing
  • imitate the action of reading a book aloud
Late Preschool (Age 4)
Kids usually begin to:
  • recognize familiar signs and labels, especially on signs and containers
  • make up rhymes or silly phrases
  • recognize and write some of the letters of the alphabet (a good goal to strive for is 12-15 letters)
  • read and write their names
  • name beginning letters or sounds of words
  • match some letters to their sounds
  • use familiar letters to try writing words
  • understand that print is read from left to right, top to bottom
  • retell stories that have been read to them

For further reading check out:  “Reading Milestones,” Kids Health.


Summer Reading  - Logging

For young children, everyday activities such as drawing, singing, talking, or playing together can be logged as time spent reading. These activities help to develop your child’s literacy skills before they are able to read or write. Reading, along with these other activities, plays an important role in satisfying curiosity and building a child's knowledge. A list of suggested activities is available on the Reading Readiness learning track. You can mark that your child has completed these activities to earn a badge.  You can also keep track of how much time you and your child spend doing these activities and log that time as minutes and, instead of a book title, list the activity you did (singing songs, doing nursery rhymes, etc.) when logging your child’s reading time.



Tips for Reading to Babies

It is never too early to read to your baby.  Sharing books with your baby can be a great opportunity to cuddle and bond.  Even if your child does not yet understand all of the words you are reading, they will love hearing the sound of your voice and looking at the pictures.  Here are some tips for sharing books with your baby.

  • Pick a time when you and your baby are in a good mood.
  • Show your baby the book and talk about what you see.
  • Let your baby play with the book.
  • Stop reading if your baby gets upset.  It is more important that you both enjoy reading together than it is to finish the whole book in one sitting.
  • Find time to read every day. 
  • Sharing cuddles during reading time helps your child to associate reading with love.

Kristin Williamson

Kristin Williamson's picture

In Oklahoma City, born and raised, in the backyard is where I spent most of my days.
Chillin' out, reading, playing with the dogs, or climbing up trees or trying to catch frogs.
When I was a little older, but still in school,
I started looking around for a job that I thought might be cool.
I tried music stores, Starbucks, office jobs, and then finally....I thought, "Nah, forget those...Let's try the library."

I started as a page in Edmond and then it became clear,
This was the greatest job, and not just for Senior year.
Over the next several years, I moved up through the system.
From page, to circ clerk, to librarian for children.
I went and got my Masters in LIS;
I kept working hard and trying to do my best.

Now I still do programs and school visits and festivals,
Work with the community and sometimes train other professionals,
Help plan summer reading, every day is just a peach.
And that's what I do as the Children's Coordinator in Outreach

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