Early Literacy Tips

by Amanda Urabe

Literacy is defined most simply as “the ability to read and write.”

Here are some little things you can do with your young child to begin the path of literacy.

Read together.

Emilie Buchwald, award-winning children’s book author said “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” It’s never too early to start reading with your child. Begin by pointing out letters and talking about what’s happening in the pictures. For toddlers, discuss the characters and see if they can make predictions by asking questions like, “What do you think will happen next?” before turning the page. In my house, nightly story time is a treasure. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the day—and the snuggles are the best.

Be silly and use different voices.

This is one of my favorite things to do when I read with my children. They love it when I make the big, bad wolf sound like a grump or when I make the tiny mouse’s voice high-pitched and squeaky. The Imagination Library has many titles—The Gruffalo, Llama, Llama Red Pajama and Squeak! to name a few—that provide these fun and engaging opportunities. Another pick, Dandelion Magic, is a wonderfully interactive book you can read together and help your little one develop listening skills. It may feel strange at first, but your kids will love it!

Go to a local library or bookstore. 

The Waco-McLennan County Library System has four branches, each offering wonderful programs for children. From story time for littles to Minecraft and Roblox clubs, there’s sure to be something fun and interesting for your kiddo—and it’s all free! Sign up now for the Summer Reading Challenge to earn prizes. Additionally, a local bookstore, Fabled Bookshop, is a gem downtown with a beautifully curated children’s section. Complete with seating that will make you feel like you are in an enchanted forest and a “wardrobe” with a secret door (representative of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Fabled offers story time for little ones every Wednesday at 10am and 11am. 

Read in front of your kids. 

By mindfully showing your kids that you enjoy reading—be it a book, a magazine, the newspaper—you’re modeling not only the skill of reading but also the importance of reading in your life. If you have children under age five, making time to read for yourself can be a challenge, but it’s really one worth making—even if it takes a couple months to finish a book you could typically read in a week!

Create a reading space.

A reading space doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive—but it should be cozy and inviting! Gather some pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. Collect a few books and set up a space in a little corner or clear a shelf in the living room for some children’s books. Maybe you have a comfy swing in your backyard or a nook in the kitchen that will provide the perfect sunlight for an afternoon story.

Set aside time to read everyday.

Children thrive with a routine. Schedule time to read everyday—and it doesn’t have to be at bedtime! Reading after lunch or during a snack may fit your day best. Have more than one child? Maybe you can have a little one-on-one time with one child while another naps. And if your child wants to read The Little Engine that Could for the millionth time, that’s okay! Repetition helps build comprehension and vocabulary skills.

If you would like to learn more about the Waco-McLennan Public Library or find out how to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge, visit: https://wacolibrary.org

To learn more about Fabled Bookshop, you can check out their website here:


Published by wacobookmom

Amanda Urabe has written book reviews for publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster and narrated a reading app for children. Alongside her husband and their two sons, she re-located to Waco three years ago from Los Angeles. Then known as L.A. Book Mom, she maintained a blog and hosted story time at local businesses and farmers markets to promote the joy of reading in her community. With a degree in Education and a passion for literacy, she is thrilled to be working with Imagination Library of Waco.

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