A couple of days before we headed down to my folks place in Virginia, Eleanor had a milestone occasion: her first library card.
We are fortunate enough to have a great little library within walking distance. We stopped in on Thursday simply to visit the resident bunny, Belle, but were thrilled when they issued Eleanor her very own library card and handed her a SWAG bag to boot!
I told Eleanor how a library works: borrowing of books, the special sections for each category of book… we left it at that. She immediately asked for some more Charlie and Lola books (her latest favorites). I tossed in a couple others and we headed home to take a peek at our spoils.
To make her new library bag even more special, I suggested we decorate it one day when Oliver was in school. We had some leftover fabric markers from this project over the summer. I also let her use some of our regular ol’ crayola markers figuring the bag probably wouldn’t hit the washing machine anytime soon. She was quickly sidetracked by her new pencil…
Eleanor’s new status as a card carrying library member got me thinking about how soon it will be before she’s reading on her own. Half the battle with early literacy is the basics: loving books, understanding that the pages turn as the story progresses, and a general sense of story structure (characters, problem, solution, setting) to name a few.
For younger elementary children, the first step to ‘reading’ is often taking a story walk where children look at the cover and guess what the story might be about, then turning the pages trying to figure out who the characters are, what they’re doing, and maybe what the problems are. That’s how we spend our library time (aside from harassing the bunny and playing with the doll house…): choosing a book that looks interesting, wondering what it might be about, and then flipping through the pages to see if it looks good!
Other tricks of the reading trade? Word play. At an early age, you can have fun with your child playing around with word sounds. Rhyming is a fabulous way to teach a child to isolate one sound and then swap it up; in other words they’re learning to take apart a word. The converse is also helpful (putting together a word): start to say a word sounds by sound and see if your child can guess. “Eleanor, time for SSS. SSS-UUU. SSSS-UUU-PPPP… SUPPER!”
Agility with sounds, or phonemes, will teach your child the important building blocks of reading: blending, phonemic awareness, and being able to keep multiple sounds in their head long enough to piece together an entire word!
Obviously, my kids are all younger than 4 so we’re not doing any reading or phonemic awareness around here, but you’d be surprised how simple it is to start slowly building the foundation for some of these more academic skills before your kids are even in school! And, is there anything better than enjoying a book with your children?!
p.s. This picture is one of my all-time favorites… Eleanor’s cousin was reading with her a million years ago. There was a lion in the story.