Helping Your Young Child Become a Successful Reader

Today’s post comes to us from Ali, Head of Children’s Services.


Many people assume that there isn’t much they can do to help their child learn to read until they are of a certain age. Believe it or not, you should start at birth.  The five core practices to help prepare children for reading are Reading, Writing, Talking, Singing, and Playing.  These practices are taken from the Every Child Ready to Read Initiative. You may already be nurturing these pre-reading skills at home, but it is important to use these techniques everywhere you go with your child. To learn more about these practices, you can ask any children’s librarian for suggestions or attend an early literacy program or storytime at the Cheshire Public Library.

Early literacy programs at public libraries have changed significantly over the years. Early literacy is everything a child knows about reading and writing before he or she can read or write, typically between the ages of 0-5. Traditionally, children’s library programs focused on the education of children.  Today, these programs focus on the education of the parent or caregiver.  If you attend storytimes at the public library, you may hear the children’s librarian state an early literacy tip or model a specific behavior during their programs.  This is done intentionally to encourage caregivers to use these tools at a later point.

Here are some ideas on using each of the 5 best practices in your everyday life.

  • TALKING is the most critical early literacy skill because it helps children learn oral language. You can talk to your child about things you see or ask them open-ended questions to encourage a response from them.
  • SINGING develops language skills by slowing down syllables and sounds that make up a word. You can sing in the car whenever you’re traveling and you never have to worry about other people hearing your singing voice.
  • READING together not only develops vocabulary and comprehension, but it fosters a love of reading.  Try to pick a time to read when you are both in a good mood and never force it. It is a good idea to establish a reading routine at bedtime when your child is most relaxed.
  • You can start to practice WRITING as soon as your child can grip anything. Even if they are only making scribbles, they are getting those small hand muscles ready to hold a pencil.
  • Children also learn language and literacy skills through PLAY by helping them put thoughts into words as they talk about what they are doing.

Caregivers have the most important role in developing a child’s reading skills, so it is important that you practice these techniques as often as possible. I encourage you to visit the library and check out some of the early literacy programs and resources that we have.  To see our full events calendar, you can go to

Check out  our Parenting section for more on early literacy and school readiness:


And don’t forget to sign up for our summer reading program for kids and adults : Summer Adventure! The program runs from June 21 through August 17. Raffles, prizes, and giveaways will be available to those who complete the activities. Who will take home the crown for the most minutes read? Will it be the kids, or will it be the adults?


Alphabet Books that Break the Mold

When children are small we all want them to learn their letters, and start reading and writing. However, the typical ABC books can get boring quickly, and not just for the adults. Sometimes is is fun to through a special alphabet book that shakes up the monotony that is A is for Apple, b is for ball, and so on. Here are some of the best books that I have found and shared with my own children that make the alphabet more fun for them and us.

  1. B is for Bookworm by Anita C. Prieto, illustrated by Renée Graef
  1. An Edible Alphabet by Carol Watterson, illustrated by Michela Sorrentino
  1. S is for Save the Planet by Brad Herzog and illustrated by Linda Holt Ayriss
  1. When Royals Wore Ruffles: a Funny and Fashionable Alphabet! by Chesley McLaren and Pamela Jaber, illustrated by Chesley McLaren
  1. The Alphabet Theatre Proudly Presents the Z was Zapped: a Play in Twenty-six Acts by Chris Van Allsburg
  1. Q is for Duck by Mary Elting & Michael Folsom; pictures by Jack Kent
  1. The Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  1. Y is for yowl! by Laura Purdie Salas
  1. The Beetle Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by David Biedrzycki
  1. A Isn’t for Fox by Wendy K. Ulmer ; illustrated by Laura Knorr

If you are still looking for some unusual letter fun may I also suggest; A Fabulous Fair Alphabet by Debra Frasier, G is for Gold Medal by Brad Herzog, A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian, Z is for Zeus: a Greek Mythology Alphabet by Helen L. Wilbur,illustrated by Victor Juhasz, T is for Tutu  by Sonia Rodriguez & Kurt Browning, Alphabet Explosion!: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra by John Nickle, The Freshwater Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, Action Alphabet by Shelley Rotner, Tomorrow’s Alphabet by George Shannon, or The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta.