A Master Librarian’s Early Literacy Tips by Jenn

As you probably caught in my introduction from Tuesday, I have loved books for longer than I can remember. It was probably obvious to everyone but me that my passion for books would lead to my career as a librarian. Thankfully I have passed that love of reading onto our son, although in all honesty, he never had a chance.

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We are in the middle of our summer reading program at our local library, and I’m still amazed at how many fabulous parents don’t know that their infants, toddlers, or preschoolers can participate. Summer Reading is an incentive reading program hosted by many public libraries around the country and is a great way to support your child’s learning and introduce them to the library and the joys of reading. For older children, summer reading is designed to keep them reading over the summer break so they don’t lose the literacy skills they worked so hard to learn all school year.


So, here are 5 tips for engaging the brains of your kiddos during the summer and year around:

1. Read

Since the day X was born, we try to read at least 20 minutes every day. It doesn’t have to be consecutive and can happen anytime, anywhere. We like to read at bedtime as a way to wind down and cuddle. But, we also read in the car, in the tub, and in the shopping cart.

One of our bedtime favorites is “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney. The more we read it, the more involved X becomes in the story. Each time Llama calls for his mama, we use different voices and volumes. We jump up and down on the bed. We give “Llama X” and our stuffed Llama Llama good night kisses.

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It is good to keep in mind, especially when you have young and wiggly kiddos, that you don’t have to read the book straight through or even word for word. It is okay to skip pages or start in the middle. Talk about the pictures and what you see. We parents may get exhausted reading the same book over and over, but each time your child may be learning something new.

X is now “reading” many of his favorite books. He has the rhythms and words memorized, checks the visual cues in the illustrations, and adds sound effects and voices, modeling what we do. His favorite is “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle. We own several editions of this wonderful story and I’ll never forget hearing X in the car seat a few years ago saying “bown brr, bown brr, see? re bur. re bur, re bur, see?”  (Book text: “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. Red bird, red bird, what do you see?)

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2. & 3. Sing & Play

We sing a LOT in the car. Our favorites are “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old McDonald Had a Farm”. We have spent many drives repeating “the mommies on the bus go shh, shh, shh” to quiet X down, especially when his car seat was rear facing.

One fun twist we have for “Old McDonald” is adding X’s favorite animals, even if they wouldn’t be found in a farm setting. We will sometimes sing about dinosaurs and monkeys. He likes to change animal noises or make them up for animals we don’t know. It is also fun to “forget” and “moo” for a cat to see if someone catches it.

Singing is great for learning rhythm and repetition. It also sets the stage for many of the children’s books that are reinterpretations of the classic songs or finger plays. Don’t worry if you can’t remember the tune. Make it up and have fun.

X loves dinosaurs and PBS’s Dinosaur Train has an A-Z song, which we have memorized. X sings it to himself when he is bored or trying to stay awake. When we read other ABC books, he likes to say the dinosaur name before identifying the picture that corresponds to each letter.

4. Talk

X likes me to tell him a story after he is tucked in. We like “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Sometimes I change the story by giving a character X’s name, replacing the pigs/bears with dinosaurs, etc. One night X requested “Little Purple Riding Hood”.

5. Write

We have a set of alphabet letters for the sandbox and one that sticks to the bathtub. We have glow-in the-dark stars on X’s bunk bed. We shaped them into the six letters of his name so he can trace and spell it out every night.

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As parents, we are the first teachers our children have. These are 5 super easy ways we can help provide our children with the tools necessary to be successful and ready to read when they enter school.

What are your favorite, fun literacy activities? Have a fun summer reading!

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In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements: The books reviewed were purchased by myself or borrowed from the library.

If you liked this post, check out some of Jelly Bean Journal’s other guest writers:

Meet Jessi

The Someday Scenario by Jessi

Meet Sommer

A Mommy’s False Sense of Guilt by Sommer

Meet Corrie

Celebrate and Bare that Baby Bump! by Corrie

6 thoughts on “A Master Librarian’s Early Literacy Tips by Jenn

  1. Wonderful tips! At first I felt a little silly reading to my one day old, but boy does it make a difference. With the second, I definitely don’t feel silly and it’s great to have his older brother “read” to him.

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