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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pre-Reading Skills Parents Can Teach From Birth

There are a set of basic pre-reading skills that are necessary for reading success, and parents can begin teaching these skills at birth. I recently read an article from the Calgary Herald that laid these skills out in an easy to remember way:

1. "I Like Books" - Motivation/Having Fun Reading

2. "I See Words" - Print Awareness

3. "I Hear Words" - Phonological Awareness

4. "I Know Letters" - Letter Knowledge

5. "I Know Words" - Vocabulary

6. "I Can Tell A Story" - Comprehension/Story Structure Knowledge

I feel that number one on the list is most important. But these are all skills you can easily be helping your child build as you simply spend time reading to them on a daily basis.
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading is reading aloud to children. If an adult they respect and love reads to them regularly, involves them in significant conversation and is seen reading, the child will turn into a really good reader." - Dariel Bateman, a retired principle and executive director of CalgaryReads.


The Book Chook said...

Great post, Amy! I really like the simplicity of that list. So often we passionate types make it hard for people to remember the essentials, but that nails it.

I like the quote, too. So pleased to find your blog!

Katie said...

Wow... this is a wonderful article. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is such an easy list to remember and so accessible to Joe and Jane Parent. What a great find.

CSH said...

I love the picture - you really can't start too early! Also, I like how the list makes these skills personal.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you can start too early. What is the rush? How about nursing and holding the baby, instead of trying to teach him to read? Kids do better if parents actually love to read themselves, and expose kids to a rich world of real life culture. Forcing kids to read before they are ready only installs a fear and loathing of reading. It should be a joy, not a chore to be "mastered" on the raising a perfect child score card.

Just Ask Baby said...

"Reading is a complex skill which builds upon a number of other skills. For example, reading is in part a visual skill, in that it involves the ability to discriminate letters and words. But it also involves the muscular control that allows the child to explore a page from left to right and from top to bottom. It is also an auditory skill that requires the child to discriminate the basic sounds of his or her native language and eventually to begin to associate these sounds with the printed word. Last but not least, reading is a cognitive skill because it requires understanding and interpretation." David Elkind Ph.D.

Read more here:

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...


I agree that formal teaching of reading can begin too early (and often does these days in schools, unfortunately). But what we're talking about here, is simply reading to, and reading with your child. Sitting down with your baby, cuddling them, and reading familiar stories not only sets them up for reading success by beginning to instill these listed skills in them, but is also a very special bonding experience!

I would not suggest sitting down and beginning a phonics program with your infant, no. But can't say enough about how strongly I feel about reading with your child from an early age.

And yes, being a reading role model is SO important. Great point!

"The single most important thing parents can do to prepare a preschooler for reading is to read to him. Just thirty minutes a day is enough to make a difference. And it’s never too soon to start! Reading to babies helps to forge connections in the brain that stimulate the development of language abilities. Children who have been read to since their earliest months do better in reading than those who weren’t – an advantage that persists all the way to high school." -The Between The Lions Book For Parents

"I can't stress enough to read to your babies as soon as they're born, if not before. It helps them develop the ability to read so much more easily. Children who have been read to and talked to since a very young age have heard more than 30 million words by age 3. They have a vocabulary of up to 20,000 words by age 6. That gives them a great head start." - Laurie Moser, director of Read! 365

The Book Chook said...

Anonymous makes a good point. Nursing and holding and cuddles are so incredibly important. When I imagine someone reading to a toddler, I always picture a mum or dad with the little one snuggled close, enjoying that undivided attention from a parent. Lots and lots of cuddles, some of them at reading time.

I don't think we are actually talking about "teaching" a baby or pre-schooler to read, so much as talking about providing all the pre-reading conditions a child needs in his life - one of which is seeing a parent read, another of which is being read to, talked to, sung to, whatever.

It is terrible to think of a child being forced to read. I have even heard of reading being used as a punishment. How can kids value reading if that is in their past?

Christine said...

Fantastic list! Thanks for sharing it!