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This article was written by
Sharon Dykstra
Youth Librarian 
in Port Hueneme, CA

It was originally printed in the
in the April 2-15, 2009 Issue
Early literacy sets foundation to build learning
Created By: Sharon Dykstra

Current scientific research indicates that it is never too early to prepare children for success as readers.

This preparation begins long before they start school. Early literacy is everything a child knows about reading and writing before they can actually read or write.

Early literacy happens when a family reads aloud to a baby before birth, when a baby plays with (and even chews on) a book, when a toddler asks for a favorite book to be read over and over (and over and over), when a preschooler asks (and answers) question after question about a story, and when a child “reads” a book to you from memory.

What fosters early literacy in young children? Fun, and lots of it! The most important thing is providing a fun, verbal and stimulating atmosphere. The focus should be on offering a child plenty of opportunities to talk and be listened to, to read and be read to, and to sing and be sung to.

Talking, playing, singing and reading with a child stimulates brain growth and forms the connections that become the building blocks for reading. Research shows that reading aloud to a child every day increases his/her brain’s capacity for language and literacy skills, and is the best way to prepare a child to read.

Why does this matter? We live in a world where a well-educated populace is essential to our nation’s health and prosperity. Children who are better prepared to read have an easier time learning to read. Children who have an easier time learning to read, enjoy reading, and read well tend to do better in school. Children who perform well in school are more likely to become high school graduates and attend college.

Early literacy sets the foundation upon which all further learning is built. Providing early literacy experiences for young children today is a worthwhile investment in our future.

To find out more about the library's early literacy efforts, click here to download a PDF of the entire article.

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