A little effort goes a long way when it comes to encouraging early childhood literacy.
Molly Hudson is the Youth Services Librarian at the Lewis and Clark Library in Helena, and she says, “You know, just even taking a minute to sit with the baby, or your toddler, however hard that may be, and read five words, some days that’s all you get, and that’s perfectly okay.”
Early literacy begins with 6 key components.
Molly added, “Oral language, so that’s why speaking to your child is so, so important, phonological awareness, that’s a huge word, but it basically just means 'I recognize that this is the sound it makes', print awareness is being able to recognize 'this is a letter and this is what it represents and this is how the words work together', so if I am learning to read and write English, the word goes from left to right.”
The last two key components are vocabulary and background knowledge, which are two components a young child can obtain by being exposed to books and reading.
Molly says in this day and age it is still very important to use physical books instead of always using an electronic book.
She says, “it is super important in terms of print awareness and concept to know, ‘oh, this is how I hold a physical book, the top is up here and the bottom is down here, and when I open it, I open it like this. It is just orienting. It is a different aspect, when you are using an electronic device.”
It can be daunting for parents to feel they have to read to their child every day, but there are other ways to encourage early child literacy that parents are probably already incorporating without even knowing it.
Molly says, “Singing is actually really important, because it slows down the words. So they’ll hear the different sounds which goes back to phonological awareness, and we talked about talking, and just pointing out every single thing you’re doing or seeing or everything your child may be doing or seeing.”
Now more than ever, children need access to books in their homes. The “If You Give A Child a Book …” campaign puts books into the hands of children in need across our community. Visit here to learn more: https://www.ktvh.com/giveabook