Birth to Five

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The library is your partner in helping young children get ready to succeed in school and beyond!

There are five Early Literacy practices you can do to help your child be ready to learn.  As your child’s first teacher, you are the best person to share these activities with your child.

Kids' Blog

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Talking

Children learn language by listening to those around them talk. When you talk to your child you are teaching them:

  • How individual words sound.
  • What words mean.
  • That words can be put together to communicate ideas and information.

When you talk to your child:

  • Give your child a chance to “respond” even if they are too young. This teaches them their words matter, that they are valued, and how a conversation words
  • Expand on what your child does or says. If your child points to a bear in a book, you can say, “Yes, that is a bear.  Bears sometimes live in caves, and they like to sleep through the winter…”  This helps your child’s vocabulary expand.
  • Ask your child more than yes or no questions. This lets your child think about more words.

How the library can help:

  • Books are a great conversation starter! Look at the pictures in books and talk about them with your child.

Singing

Singing is a great way to learn language.  It helps children:

  • Hear the smaller sounds that make up words.
  • Learn about rhythm and rhyme.
  • Learn new words.

When you sing with your child:

  • Remember, no matter what your voice sounds like, your child loves it – because it is yours.
  • Sing songs you remember from your childhood.
  • Make up your own songs together about things that you do every day.

How the library can help:

  • Stuck remembering some of those songs you learned? Want something new to sing?  Check out the library’s children’s music collection to add to your song repertoire.
  • Many of our storytimes include songs – come to a storytime to learn new tunes.
  • The library has a wonderful collection of song books that you can use to sing to your child as you read to them.

Reading

No matter what your child’s age reading together is the single most important thing you can do to get your child ready to read.  Reading with your child:

  • Helps your child develop a love of reading and an appreciation of books and stories.
  • Brings you both closer together by doing a shared activity.
  • Increases your child’s vocabulary and knowledge.
  • Helps children learn how books work and what written language looks like.
  • Encourages their imagination.

When you read with your child:

  • Read in the language you feel most comfortable.
  • Pick a time of day that works best for you and your child.
  • Remember it’s okay to put a book down if your child isn’t interested in it.
  • It’s okay to read the same book over and over – your child gets something out of it with each reading.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions about the book like, “What do you think is going to happen next?” “What would you do?”

How the library can help:

  • Checking out books from the library is an easy – and free – way to explore new books .
  • Feel like you need something new to read? Our staff loves suggesting new titles.
  • Want to find good books from home? Look at our Children’s Book Suggestion page.
  • Come to one of our many storytimes and let us share books with both you and your child.

For more information about the importance of reading to young children, download our It’s Never Too Early brochure in English or Spanish.

For tips and advice on reading with your very young child, download our Babies Love Books brochure in English or Spanish.

Writing

Writing and reading go hand in hand.  Writing helps your child:

  • Practice hand-eye coordination.
  • Exercise the small muscles in their fingers and hands.
  • Learn that letters and words stand for things.

You can help your child write by:

  • Letting your child watch you write in your day to day life – lists, reminders, and more.
  • Keeping lots of paper and markers around.
  • Encouraging them to write their names and learn the letters in their name.
  • Talking to your child about their drawings and writings.

How the library can help:

  • Many of our craft events help develop small muscle movement that children need to develop to write. Find a program at a branch near you.
  • We offer various writing programs for a wide range of ages.

Playing

Play is not a break from learning – it is how children learn.  When your child plays they:

  • Learn how one thing can stand for another (i.e.: a towel becomes a cape).
  • Develop language skills by putting thoughts into words.
  • Create narrative skills as they play through a story.
  • Build feelings of confidence.

You can help your child play by:

  • Playing and imagining with them throughout the day.
  • Letting your child direct the play.

How the library can help:

  • The library offers many different programs that involve play. Come to one of the events at our library branches.
  • Find fingerplays and songs to play with your child on our Fingerplay at PPL
  • Many branches have a play area for your child to enjoy.

For more information about playing with your child, download our Playing is Learning brochure in English or Spanish.