Did you know…
Babies like to read and write too? Developmentally, we know this is not possible, or appropriate, but the interactions an infant has with books, listening to lullabies and with other’s voices, are the building blocks for language and literacy development.
How do we know this?
Early childhood experts, like those who contribute to Zero to Three, state that by letting literacy skills “naturally unfold” through the enjoyment of books and positive interactions with adults, infants will have a richer literary experience.
What can infants do?
Infants like to:
- Chew on soft, cloth or vinyl books
- Turn pages of stiff, chunky board books
- Gaze and laugh at large, brightly colored pictures
- Listen to animal sounds, rhythms and repetition
- Imitate an action seen in a picture
- Babble to imitate reading
- Run fingers along printed words and different textures
How can I help?
Build skills through interactions!
- Describe what you are doing to connect actions to words
- Chat while preparing meals and during routine activities, like changing a diaper or washing hands
- Imitate coos and babbles
- Speak slowly to children to help them identify sounds
- Speak face to face when talking to infants as they can match shapes to sounds
- Avoid baby talk - the more complex sentences children hear, they will be able to speak and mimic the same
- Limit screen time
- Sing the alphabet song so the child learns the letters
- Sing nursery rhymes so children hear different sounds in the words
- Clap along to the rhythm so children hear the syllables
- Read together with the children to help increase vocabulary and understand how books and print are put together (read right to left, top to bottom, space between words, etc.)
- Provide opportunities to read every day
- Describe colors, items and shapes
- Point to familiar items in pictures and say item name
- Have books accessible and within reach
- Plan unstructured play times
- Use puppets or stuffed animals to tell a story
- Model gestures along with the word; encourage to imitate
- Make books about the infant
Where can I find more information?
Zero to Three - https://www.zerotothree.org/early-learning/early-literacy
Iowa Early Learning Standards: Area 6: Communication, Language and Literacy http://www.iowaaeyc.org/IELS%203rd%20edition%20Section%202.pdf
National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/support-language-development-infants-and-toddlers
Information in blog referenced from Early Literacy, www.zerotothree.org/BrainWonders (2003)