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early years are learning years

Helping children learn about reading


From the National Association for the Education of Young Children

Copyright 1997 by National Association for the Education of Young Children. Reproduction of this material is freely granted, provided credit is given to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Why read a book to an infant who does not yet know the meaning of a word — or of words at all? Why sing to a toddler who cannot understand your song?

Both of these activities help children make connections between words and meaning. They also help to create a warm, safe environment for children and lead to a lifetime love of reading and learning.

Some parents assume that learning to read starts with memorizing the alphabet and sounding out words, but actually the fundamentals of reading begin much earlier. Adults lay the foundation for reading every day, when they point out objects and describe what they are doing while dressing an infant, grocery shopping with a toddler, or cooking with a preschooler.

The most important thing is that teaching children about reading becomes an activity that brings children closer to the caring adults in their lives. Here are some tips for families who want to help their children make connections between meaning and words.

Infants

Toddlers

Preschoolers

Primary grade children

Additional Resources

Schickedanz, J.A. 1994. "Helping children learn about reading." Washington, DC: NAEYC. #520/50 each or 100 for $10.

National Black Child Development Institute. 1995. "Young children and African American literature." Washington, DC: NAEYC. #568/50 each or 100 for $10.


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