We all know that literacy starts from birth. A child’s knowledge of their own experience and the world contributes to their lifelong literacy as well. How does self and world knowledge connect to literacy?

As infants, children are learning about themselves and the world around them. They are developing in all areas of physical (gross/fine motor), emotional, cognitive, communication (listening and speaking), and social skills.

Initially, we help the child learn about the world through real experiences. From there, we quickly integrate some ‘book sharing’ by showing simple board books with realistic and vivid pictures. We’re helping them learn about the everyday things that they are also becoming familiar with. I also love the books with a little mirror in them, because baby gets to learn about him/herself! Expect children at this age to flip pages in random fashion – that’s completely okay at this age! Many of the books at this stage contain vocabulary such as nouns or labels for items.

As a toddler develops and starts to use first words, we continue to share books that includes contents relating to their everyday. Since these toddlers are using first words, we need to remember to adapt our language to meet their needs – simplify, to give them opportunities to imitate language, and expand, when we need to share new vocabulary or short phrase/sentence structures.  Children at this age will be pointing at pictures in the book, starting to understand the concept of left and right, and still may skip pages in a book! I recommend books at this stage to include more context such as a setting, or with more characters doing various actions on a page. Books with flaps are excellent for these little explorers and first words’ users! It is okay to take a book with longer paragraphs, but use them to share the pictures and paraphrase what you see instead of reading the entire paragraph. This will match your child’s level of attention at this age. When using books as a language-learning tool, it is important to have conversations during book sharing!

When a preschooler begins to start combining words and has much more communication and language, we need to look more closely at the books we may be sharing. We need to understand that there are different types of books, most commonly:

  • Simple readers / Repetitive Books – These books have a predictable pattern to help with reading and often include rhyming as part of the book. The rhythm keeps the book interesting to hear and the rhyming pattern can help a child sound words out.
  • Story books – These books have a beginning, middle and end. We often think of parts of a story to include who, where, when, what, how and why. There are many parts to a story, and one of the ways I remember the parts of a book is through Hanen’s acronym from I’m Ready, identifying “C.S.P.A.R.” – Character, Setting, Problem, Action, Resolution.
  • Theme books – Think of the ‘My first dictionary’ or themed books about outer space and planets. These books open up a child’s world knowledge by exposing them to concepts that may not be possible at home. So, for a child who is interested in the stars – these books provide rich visuals, vocabulary and follow their interests — explore outer space from your own book corner!

Two special types of books I would also like to mention include:

  • Homemade photo books or mini stories – I always encourage children and their families to spark conversation through looking at their photo albums, or making mini story books about a field trip or outing. Kids love seeing themselves as the characters!
  • Wordless picture books – These books can be considered story books, but they have little or no words. You can find them at your library, book stores and even online book sites. They are illustrated with detail (e.g., facial expression) and have language-rich narratives that you can narrate. Because they are wordless, I often notice there is a lot of imagination and wonder in these stories!

Literacy is about sharing – sharing your time, sharing your knowledge, and sharing a book with your little one. As you and your child explore and learn together, you will make connections about your own selves, to the content of the books, and to the world.

Next time, I will include more details on what we mean by “Text to Self”, “Text to Text” and “Text to World”.

Happy sharing!

#slp #speechtherapy #sharemvmt