As a mother of 4 adult daughters I often say that the best thing I ever gave them (besides my unconditional love) was a love of reading.  They all finished high school with great grades and went on to complete college degrees and one even went on for her Masters degree.  So, how do we get them to love reading?  It all starts with teaching them early literacy skills.

From day one when you bring those babies home there are 5 things you need to do with your child every day: Play, Sing, Read, Talk and Write.  The following are some examples of things you can do with your child every day:

Play:  it is through play that children learn to express themselves.  They learn the meaning of words and learn how to tell a story.  Allow your child to play dress up.  Act out stories with stuffed animals.  Play with blocks and pretend to build bridges, castles or whatever you like.  Make up stories about who lives in these buildings.

Sing:  through the rhythm and rhyme of songs children hear words broken down.  This helps to teach them new vocabulary.  Sing lullabies, sing and dance to your children’s favorite songs.  Turn up the radio to some of your favorite songs and dance around the house.  I have found that turning up a favorite song and dancing along stops just about every meltdown.  You can’t be cranky when your favorite song is playing.

Read:  This is the best way to get your child reading on their own.  Hearing new words will help with vocabulary development also.  Read every day.  Include taking time to read to your routine every day.  When you are out read signs, read packaging at stores and point out letters in signs.

Talk:  Talking to your child is one of the best ways to develop language and vocabulary.  Ask open ended questions.  Talk about what they think will happen next in a story.  Point to things in the book and talk about them. (“yes that is a truck, it is a yellow dump truck.  What do you think it is hauling?”)  Talk about your daily routine and give your child time to respond to you.  Even a baby who is not forming words yet can make sounds and begin to learn about holding a conversation. 

Write:  writing, scribbling and drawing are all skills that will help your child decode words.  Let your child help to write a grocery list.  Help your child draw a picture of things in his/her room and then label them.  Help your child write a name tag for their stuffed animals.

All branches of the Adams County Library System focus on these 5 early literacy skills in their storytimes.  Many of the libraries actually have these 5 skills written out on their walls, they are that important.  Be sure to check out our website at under the events tab to find a storytime near you.  We have storytimes for all ages: babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers.  Several libraries are adding Music and movement storytimes and sensory storytimes and storytimes that teach Kindergarten readiness skills.

It’s really not hard to give your child/children one of the best gifts ever.  Make reading fun and you will get to watch them soar and do great things.  Give them a love of reading!

Sherry Feeser, Adams County Library System