Early Literacy

At the Davenport Public Library, our storytime programs are created using the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read guidelines.

ALA has identified 6 skills that are key to reading readiness:

  • Print awareness – Know that letters and words are used to represent other things or ideas, that in English words are formed and read from left to right, from top to bottom on a page
  • Print motivation – The process of wanting to read and to understand what is written, whether in books or signs or in functional use (such as cereal boxes).
  • Letter knowledge- Being able to recognize individual letters and what sounds they can make.  Being able to form letters into simple words
  • Phonological awareness – The ability to hear sounds and break them down into understandable segments, putting them back together to create meaning from words and sentences.   This includes recognizing words that rhyme, words that start and end with the same sound and knowing that sounds can be manipulated to change words and meanings.
  • Vocabulary – knowing what words mean and how to use them in context
  • Narrative skills – The ability to sequence thoughts and actions in a meaningful way to create understanding of an event or an idea.

 

Studies show that the best ways to learn these skills is through 5 practices:

  • Talking
  • Singing
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Playing

 

Our storytimes are created with the idea that parents can use the same books, rhymes, fingerplays, activities and songs at home to extend the storytime learning environment.  One of the best ways to expand on concepts and skills learned in storytime is to talk about what happened after you get home.  Discussing the stories will help your child to build narrative skills that will assist with early learning.

For babies

Goals of our Baby Storytime:  Introduce to new parents the concept of sharing books with young children; offer ideas to make reading time enjoyable; suggest books, rhymes and other resources available for early learning.

Parents are the best teachers for their babies; they know their children and can help them in ways that are easiest for them to learn.  Young children have short attention spans and learn best by doing.  Parents can do activities for short periods throughout the day to promote early literacy. 

Babies and young toddlers are much better at hearing different sounds and phonemes than adults, which is why language acquisition is easiest in early childhood.  Introducing them to rhymes, songs, and books will expand their recognition of the various sound combinations in language, fostering a greater range of language connections in their brains.  If the child is introduced at this stage to more than one language he or she is able to make multiple connections with various word meanings.

Best books for babies:

  • Thick sturdy cover and pages
  • Small size for small hands
  • Bright colorful pictures, plenty of contrast
  • Pictures of human faces
  • Few words, rhyming text

 

For toddlers

Goals of our Toddler Storytime and Dance Party Storytime: Use movement and music to involve children in language development, continue to foster a love of books and reading, provide modeling for positive reading encounters at home.

At this stage, children start building early literacy skills such as recognizing letters, learning the mechanics of book reading (left to right, top to bottom), and continue discovering the sounds and rhythm of language through interactive songs, fingerplays, and reading.

After storytime with babies and toddlers we offer playtime with manipulatives specific to age appropriate learning.  Puzzles and blocks offer exploration with early math and science skills, and pretend food and other items give children a chance to engage in dramatic play.  This is a great opportunity for social-emotional learning for the children, as well as offering parents a chance to network with other parents.

Best books for toddlers:

  • More detailed pictures
  • Sort narratives
  • Topics that they can relate to: animals, getting dressed, familiar settings
  • Stories with rhyme and rhythm
  • Repeated phrases or story activities
  • Books with familiar items they can name
  • Predictable stories

For preschoolers

Goals of our Preschool Storytime: Engage prereaders in the narrative of stories, increase vocabulary to provide context for early reading comprehension, provide positive reading encounters to foster a love of reading.

Preschool storytime is starting to focus on the story itself, rather than on the book.    Readers are more prepared to follow a storyline and can predict events that might happen next.   They are familiar with other stories and can compare things that have happened in other books or in real life to what they are reading now, and personal taste is emerging. 

Our preschool storytimes also offer children a chance to develop fine motor skills when working with scissors, crayons, glue and other materials.  Through completing these craft projects, they are also able to exercise their imaginations when encouraged to create things on their own.  Having a chance to practice kindergarten readiness skills serves to increase early school success.

Best books for preschoolers:

  • Longer narratives
  • Stories about real things
  • Simple suspense and surprise
  • Simple humor and word play
  • Books with repetition and predictable storylines