Child Literacy: Help Your Children Connect Sounds to Printed Words

Child literacy actually begins the day we are born. Important tips for guiding toddlers to 5th graders.

By Anne Schwartzberg



Child Literacy: Help Your Children Connect Sounds to Printed Words

Children take what they hear and connect it to printed language. Helping your child connect sound to words in print can be fun and easy. You can help support child literacy by following the tips below.

  • Sound Decisions for Toddlers: Young toddlers love to hear and say rhyming words as well as repeated consonant sounds; “mom makes monkeys mimic mighty men”. Another way to help support child literacy at home is to sing songs or read stories aloud that contain nonsense words and funny phrases that repeat (the sillier the better!). Make sure that your toddler can see the words and pictures of the book. If she’s old enough, let her turn the pages to increase child literacy.
  • OK in Pre-K: Kids in Pre-K love stories about everyday life. Choose stories that are short and have detailed pictures. Stories that focus on counting, colors, shapes, and animals will also help child literacy progress at a solid pace. Ask your child to point to dinosaurs and trucks when you name them, then reverse roles and have him do the pointing. Make sure you have books with thick pages and easy pop-up and pull-out tabs to increase child literacy. Stories that can be acted out and simple fairy and folk tales will broaden your child’s literacy, and make reading time a true adventure!
  • For Kindergarten and 1st Graders: During Kindergarten and first grade, child literacy becomes more focused on print material. Have alphabet books on hand so your child can show off her alphabet skills, and encourage her to match sounds with the letters to increase child literacy. Read picture books with a few words and sentences to help your child recognize short words by sight. When you see these same words in your daily life, have your child read them out loud. Even pretending to read is an important part of child literacy – encourage it to reinforce the idea that reading’s fun. Repetition is crucial to child literacy, so remember: you might get tired of reading about that Big Red Dog, but your child never will.
  • For 2nd and 3rd Graders: Build child literacy by suggesting books with more words with matching illustrations, simple chapter books, larger print chapter books, and kids’ magazines. Matching materials to your child’s current interests your child is the greatest way to help child literacy. Popular genres for this age include biographies, joke and riddle books, and mysteries. Ask your child questions about stories that will activate his memory and allow the stories to “live” in his mind. Have her read to you and re-read parts of stories that are confusing. Finally, support your reader by scheduling or simply allowing for longer independent reading time at home to increase child literacy.
  • For 4th and 5th Graders: Your 4th and  5th grader is able to read entire paragraphs and separate main ideas from details. She is reading a wide variety of genres, including poetry, historical fiction, and nonfiction. Your child’s literacy has also taken her into the role of researcher – she’s adept at using information she’s already learned and connecting it to new ideas. Showing her how you hunt for facts that support your opinion is a great way to nurture her curiosity.  Help your child decipher complex vocabulary by looking up root-words, suffixes, and prefixes in the dictionary to increase child literacy.

Emphasize the importance of child literacy by taking your child to the library, book stores, and used book sales every week. And don’t forget that most th and 5th graders still love when you read to them – but now you can pick books that appeal to both them and you.

Reading Comprehension
Alphabet Recognition
Listening and Speaking
Milestones & Expectations
Age 10
Age 9
Age 8
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3
Listening Comprehension
Word Recognition
Alphabet Recognition
Reading Comprehension
Early Reading