[This is my second post on early literacy. Look here for tips on how to get your child excited about reading, and here for how to read to your child, and here for other games and activities that build literacy skills]
Developmental Stages of Literacy
12 – 18 months: can hold or carry books, look at board books independently, points to pictures in the book, may gaze at one book for a long time, or may switch between books quickly
18 – 24 months: may carry a favorite book around; will hold books and pretend to read; may want you to read the same book over and over. When you read favorite books, your child may say some of the words and phrases with you
2 – 3 years: can learn to turn pages in a regular book, names objects in pictures, may recite parts of books from memory, starts to relate what they’re reading about in books to their life experiences
3 – 4 years: understand that words on a page have meaning, begin to recognize letters, might recognize some words, enjoy longer stories, can guess what might happen next, like to discuss stories, can easily turn pages
What kind of books do kids love?
Young Toddlers (12 – 24 months): choose sturdy board books with only a few words on each page. Look for simple rhymes and predictable text (e.g. a repeating phrase that appears throughout). Look for simple pictures that match the text. They like books about things they see and do in their day-to-day lives, like eating lunch or going to the park, more than fantasy or books about exotic experiences.
Toddlers (2 – 3 years): Choose books that tell simple stories. Pay attention to what your child is passionate about – animals, trains, dinosaurs – they’ll love books about that. Look for non-fiction on topics like shapes, numbers, letters. Choose books with rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. Lift the flaps.
Preschoolers (3 – 5 years): Children are able to enjoy longer stories, and stories about things outside their daily experience. You can choose non-fiction books about simple ideas like telling time, counting, opposites, and also about anything they’re excited about – planets, sports, kittens…
Aim for a mix of familiar books and fresh ones – kids love to hear the same book over and over – the familiar is comforting and repetition helps them learn. New books introduce new ideas and new things to fall in love with. At any reading session, offer multiple books and let them choose.
Source for developmentally specific recommendations:
Getting Ready to Read is a short booklet on helping your child become a confident reader. (It also includes lots of great tips for language development and development in general.) www.zerotothree.org/child-development/early-language-literacy/cradlingliteracy_ready2read_8-14-09.pdf
Sources for book recommendations for each age group:
Lists of recommended books are available on websites for many library systems or in person at the library. Check out some here: www.kcls.org/kids/whattoread/booklists/ and here www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/first-5-years/read/toddlers/books
I often look at these lists for ideas, then go to Amazon to read reviews of the book to learn more. (Then back to my library website to put the book on hold. We read 15 new books a week – we couldn’t afford this habit if we bought all those books!)
Another great collection of resources and recommendations is: http://www.readingrockets.org/audience/parents