2020 Videos

Ready to Read Tips 'N Tricks (Part 1, 3:50)

More Ready to Read Tips 'N Tricks (Part 2, 3:45 )

Nine More Tips 'N Tricks, (Part 3, 4:15)

Quick Links

Early Literacy:  See It Yourself (pdf)

Today's Story Times:  Dialogic Reading (pdf)

ELL Story Times

Dads and Early Literacy (2 pg pdf)

"I Love it When You Read to Me":  Mr. B's Story Time Song (pdf)

Activities for Story Times (7 pg pdf)

Kids Love Multicultural Picture Books (8 pg pdf)

Great Rhyming Picture Books (2 pg pdf)

Caldecott Awards (1938-Present)

Coretta Scott King Book Awards (1970-Present)

The Pura Belpré Award (1995-Present)

Native American Youth Book Awards

Asian/Pacific American Literature Awards (Includes children's books)

ALA Notable Children's Books (1995-Present)



Child Development

Fostering ready-to-read skills with young children is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Studies show that the most important thing we can do to help our children succeed in school is to prepare them to read BEFORE they start school.  Ready-to-read means ready-for-school.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) defines early literacy as, "what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write."  For more, watch THIS slideshow (pop-up window).

Neurons and Connections

Thumbnail of neuron -- click to enlarge This definition of early literacy suggests that reading readiness starts at birth, when parents and caregivers talk to babies. This perspective is consistent with brain research and emerging understandings of child development.

At birth, babies have one hundred billion neurons, brain cellical impulses, the developing brain needs stimulation - sensory experiences like tasting, touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, and activity.

A child's learning is the result of a stimulus causing electrical stimulation across a synapse or gap between neuron cells. From birth, the brain rapidly is creating these connections that form our habits, thoughts, consciousness, memories and mind.

Two chemicals play a prominent role in how brain development occurs, serotonin and cortisol.

Synaptic Density

Synaptic density over time

As the picture above shows, at birth, there are few connections between neurons. By the time a child is 3 years old, the brain has formed about 1,000 trillion connections — about twice as many as adults have.

A baby's brain is superdense and will stay that way throughout the first decade of life. Beginning at about age 11, a child's brain gets rid of extra connections in a process calling "pruning," gradually making order out of a thick tangle of "wires."

The remaining "wiring" is more powerful and efficient. The increase in synaptic density in a child's brain can be seen above. The interactions that parents assist with in a child's environment are what spur the growth and patterns of these connections in the brain.

As the synapses in a child's brain are strengthened through repeated experiences, connections and pathways are formed that structure the way a child learns. If a pathway is not used, it's eliminated based on the "use it or lose it" principle. Things done a single time, either good or bad, are somewhat less likely to have an effect on brain development.

When a connection is used repeatedly in the early years, it becomes permanent. For example, when adults repeat words and phrases as they talk to babies, babies learn to understand speech and strengthen the language connections in the brain.

This same process can be applied to stimulate brain development and prepare children with the early literacy skills needed to be ready to read.

Early Literacy Activities Sidebar

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