Early Literacy

Giving your child rich experiences helps to build the basic architecture of the brain, which will give them an excellent start in school and beyond.

Every Child Ready to Read | 6 by 6: Six Skills by Six Years
Storytime at Home Kits | Resources

"Early literacy" is the all-encompassing term for the building blocks children develop before their brains and bodies are ready to read. Important milestones must be achieved before a child reaches kindergarten age, when the hands-on part of reading and writing begins in earnest.

As a parent or caregiver, you are one of your child's first teachers, so it's up to you to help develop essential brain connections. No doubt, you're already doing that in many ways! Amazing things happen when you read to your child, come to storytime, play together and chat while going for a walk! Your little one’s brain is busy making connections, especially in the first three years of life. Babies are born with 100 billion neurons, but many of these neurons are not connected at first. Sensory experiences—seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and especially tasting—stimulate connections among the cells.

LPL is here as your sidekick to assist you and your pre-reader with resources. Sometimes you need to tag-team it, and that's when we'll jump in to arm you with books your child will find entrancing or especially silly, or take over for a storytime session that shoulders a bit of your responsibility to provide enrichment experiences. You're always welcome to join us for storytimes to meet other parents and children, ask for book suggestions from Lauren or Jenny, and build up literacy skills.

Below you’ll find online resources, book lists, activity ideas, details about our Storytime at Home kits, and other helpful information.

Every Child Ready to Read

By doing these 5 activities, your child will gain the pre-reading skills they need to become a successful reader.

1. Talking with your child builds up their vocabulary! The more words children hear has been linked to greater success in school.

  • When going for a walk talk about what you see. Describe passing vehicles, houses, and animals. Ask you child what they see!

2. Singing slows down language and helps children to hear the smaller parts that make up words (and it’s fun)!

  • Sing to your child when changing their diaper, driving to the store, or when you’re hanging out at home. You can create a nursery rhyme cube that can help pick your next song and make it like a game.
  • Here are great lists of nursery rhymes and songs!

3. Reading with your child helps them to build their vocabulary and their love of books!

4. Writing starts with building up hand muscles by scribbling and playing.

  • Tracing and manipulating sensory materials is a great way to build the fine motor skills needed for writing.

5. Playing encourages kids to explore their world and be creative.

  • Blocks, balls, puzzles, and ordinary objects around your house can all be part of creative play! Peek-a-boo, making music, dancing, and exploring together are all great for play time!
  • Here are some great ideas for play at different ages, opens a new window, including details about the power of playtime!

Every Child Ready to Read is an initiative of the American Library Association and the Association of Library Service to Children to make building early literacy skills practical for families.

6 by 6: Six Skills by Six Years

Johnson County Library created 6 by 6 to make learning about early literacy more inviting for families.

The 6 skills for literacy success are:

1. Having Fun with Books: Make reading *fun* so that your child loves reading from the start!

2. Notice Print All Around You: Learn how to handle books and notice that print is meaningful in their surroundings.

3. Talk, Talk, Talk: The more we talk with our children, the greater their vocabulary becomes! Then, when they learn to read, they’ll comprehend what they read with more ease.

4. Look for Letters Everywhere: Learn the letters of the alphabet and recognize the shapes that make up letters.

5. Take Time to Rhyme: Rhyming with children helps them to hear the smaller parts that make up words. This will help them when they need to sound out words when they’re learning to read!

6. Tell Stories About Everything: Learning that stories have a beginning, middle and end will help your child get ready to read.

Storytime at Home Kits

Now you can bring storytime home! We built kits for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Each kit has five books, songs and rhymes, early literacy information, activity ideas, and more! Explore our full list of kits. Kits can’t be put on hold at this time. You can find Storytime at Home Kits near the board book shelf in the children’s room (let us know if you need help locating them!)

Here are links to individual kits by age group:

Baby Kits:

Toddler Kits:

Preschool Kits:




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