What is literacy? 
Literacy means being able to read and write.  

Why is reading important? A child's reading skills are important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.  Reading and writing are important ways we use language to communicate. 

How do reading and language skills develop? For an answer to this question, check out the following link:

  • Language and Literacy Development from birth to three years—this helpful brochure tells you what to expect and how to help.

Research has identified five early reading skills that are all essential.  They are:

  • Phonemic awareness—Being able to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.

  • Phonics—Being able to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language.

  • Vocabulary—The words kids need to know to communicate effectively.

  • Reading comprehension—Being able to understand and get meaning from what has been read.

  • Fluency (oral reading)—Being able to read text accurately and quickly.

How can we make reading part of our family’s lifestyle? 
Parents play a critical role in helping their children develop not only the ability to read, but also an enjoyment of reading.

  • Turn off the tube.  Start by limiting your family’s television viewing time. 

  • Teach by example.  If you have books, newspapers and magazines around your house, and your child sees you reading, then your child will learn that you value reading.  You can’t over-estimate the value of modeling. 

  • Read together.  Reading with your child is a great activity.  It not only teaches your child that reading is important to you, but it also offers a chance to talk about the book, and often other issues will come up.  Books can really open the lines of communication between parent and child. 

  • Hit the library.  Try finding library books about current issues or interests in your family’s or child’s life, and then reading them together.  For example, read a book about going to the dentist prior to your child’s next dental exam, or get some books about seashore life after a trip to the coast.  If your child is obsessed with dragons, ask your librarian to recommend a good dragon novel for your child.

There are many ways to include reading in your child's life, starting in babyhood, and continuing through the teen years.  Focus on literacy activities that your child enjoys, so that reading is a treat, not a chore. 

How do you read to a baby?

  • Use small, chunky board books that your baby can easily hold onto.

  • Talk about the pictures with your little one.

  • Sing the text to keep baby's attention.

  • Play peek-a-boo with lift-the-flap books.

  • Help your baby touch and feel in texture books.

Source: The University of Michigan Health System Web site.