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Literacy Development in the Early Years

Literacy Development in Early Years

Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge - these terms, while wordy, are all simple but crucial parts of literacy development in the early years. Time for a Story, by Amy Brooks Read and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting, helps break down exactly what these terms mean for your learners and how you can promote early literacy development in your classroom.

While babies come into the world ready to learn, they certainly don’t learn all at once. Like everything else, literacy is a process and there are a few key stages children must go through in order to grow and develop their literacy skills as young learners.

Time for a Story provides an easy explanation of these stages as well some activities you can use to promote literacy development in your students.


Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words

Ideas for Your Classroom:

  • Clap while you sing
  • Use poetry
  • Encourage children to repeat rhymes and sing songs
  • Use Mother Goose or other rhymes


Print Awareness: knowing that print has meaning, understanding the direction of print, beginning to recognize the author and title, and noticing environmental print

Ideas for Your Classroom:

  • Run your finger under the title and any repeated phrase
  • Encourage scribbling
  • Start with books oriented the wrong way, and let the children correct you
  • Include books with signs in the images and varying print orientations, such as Truck


Letter Knowledge: knowing the meanings of words including names of objects, actions, feelings, concepts and ideas; learning the meaning of new words

Ideas for Your Classroom:

  • Point out and talk about shapes
  • Provide large foam letters and blocks with letters
  • Give opportunities for children to match and sort and see how things are alike and different, such as sorting toys to put them away
  • Make a variety of textures available and describe the textures


Find more great ideas and recommendations for books to read with babies and toddlers in Time for a Story.

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