Encouraging Emergent Literacy

Encouraging Emergent Literacy - Stay At Home Educator

Emergent literacy is the development of early reading and writing concepts that receded actual reading.  It begins at birth and continues throughout the preschool years.  During this early period of language development, children learn important skills that contribute to the development of reading.

Children begin to develop concepts about print at a very young age, even as early as infancy when babies begin to make connections between words and their meaning.  Parents and caretakers can foster a lifelong enjoyment for reading by supporting emergent literacy development by being sensitive to opportunities to teach emergent literacy skills.  Some of the following ideas can be overlapped via age group.


  • Begin reading to your child at a very young age.  Children love books that have brightly colored pictures, rhyming, and that relate to their own experiences.
  • Repeat your child’s babbling and add to them.
  • Talk to your child during daily routines around the house.  Explain what you are doing.
  • Reread your child’s favorite books.


  • Talk, sing and play with your child.  Do finger plays.
  • Ask your young toddler to name objects and people.
  • Point out words on signs and logos on food boxes and games.  Click here for my post about environmental print.
  • Introduce new vocabulary words during holidays and family celebrations.
  • Give simple definitions to new vocabulary in books, then encourage your child to use that new vocabulary.


  • Point out details in illustrations and talk to your child about them, or have your child describe what is happening in the picture.
  • Teach your child the letters of the alphabet and encourage your child to point out letter he/she knows while reading.
  • Allow your child access to writing and art materials, and give your child daily opportunities to write and draw.
  • Encourage your child to tell a story and write down the words.  Then, read it back to your child.
  • Allow your child to explore nonfiction books of interest.


For Further Reading:

How Parents Can Help Enhance Emergent Literacy Among Preschoolers by B. W. Otto
What is Emergent Reading by M.R. Jalongo
Emergent Literacy: Early Reading and Writing Development by Froma P. Roth, PhD, CCC-SLP|Diane R. Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP
Early Literacy Instruction: Research Applications in the Classroom by Chia-Hui Lin
Stage 1: Let’s Learn Our ABC’s (roughly 2-5 years old) by This Reading Mama


14 thoughts on “Encouraging Emergent Literacy

  1. These are great tips! My kids (when just learning to read) love reading signs wherever we go. It has become a game. We also play the alphabet game on long trips. They look at signs and have to find each letter of the alphabet in order.
    Thanks for sharing with my Super Link Party! :-)

  2. Thanks for the tips! I have a preschooler and a toddler at the moment and I’m always trying to find ways to get more literacy activities in. These sound so easy!

  3. My mother was a teacher – specifically a reading teacher for 1st graders and a teacher for older students that were very behind in reading. When I read through this post, I recognize things she did with me when I was a child and that I find myself doing with my own children without even thinking about it. I must have also seen her model these things with other babies, toddlers and preschoolers that she cared for at our church growing up – with me always “helping.” I think these tips for early literacy/reading are so important. My brother and I are both avid readers who always loved learning. I credit my mother and these education practices.

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