The topic of early literacy is a very controversial issue because it is hard to tell when a child is ready to start reading, and if flags should be raised if child is not reading by a certain time. However, it is agreed that literacy starts before any formal education takes place. Parents promote literacy in babies by talking to them, singing, and reading stories. This book hopes to provide information to parents about early literacy in general. Strategies and ideas for parents and educators on how to promote early literacy in the home and in the classroom. There is also a bibliography which includes facts and research findings backing up the ideas and strategies.

Foundations for Early Literacy Development


Oral Language

  • strengthen listening and speaking abilities
  • develop confidence in using language
  • become familiar with vocabulary and sentence structure


  • develop an enjoyment for reading
  • becoming familiar with the language of fiction and nonfiction books
  • develop basic book knowledge,
  • develop concepts of print
  • develop the ability to track print


  • strengthen auditory and visual discrimination
  • develop phonemic awareness
  • develop knowledge of letter-sound relationships

Independent Reading and Writing

  • develop an enjoyment of writing
  • perceiving oneself as a reader and writer
  • view reading and writing as valuable

Strategies for Promoting Early Literacy in the Class


Reading Strategies

  • Show enthusiasm in reading books
  • Assemble a cut-up story (story sequencing)
  • Reread stories so children learn the story lines and can 'read' them on their own
  • Read rhyming books or poems to the children
  • Label things in the classroom
  • Alphabet chart
  • Photos with names
  • Have a wide range of accessible reading material

Oral Language Strategies

  • Use story telling props
  • Computer Software that repeats keyed in words
  • Sing songs and do finger plays
  • Tell stories through drawn pictures
  • Encourage dramatization of stories
  • Games and other activities that involve talking, listening, and following directions
  • Make rhymes and songs using children’s names

Writing Strategies

  • Allow children to create and publish books
  • Include literacy materials in all centres of the class
  • Display materials created by the children
  • Create a word wall
  • Magnetic letters for word play
  • Photos and names of the children in a class book

Word Making Strategies

  • Clap out syllables of words
  • Working with letters and/or words using magnetic letters
  • Alphabetic awareness activities in which children learn that printed words are made up of patterns of letters.
  • Games and materials that encourage capital and lower case letter learning
  • Practice blending letters together
  • Work with rhyming words

Strategies for Promoting Early Literacy in the Home

  • Have conversations with your child
  • Play games with your child
  • Get a library card and take frequent trips to the library
  • Take walks and talk about the signs you see
  • Make shopping lists together
  • Read familiar stories
  • Read repetition and rhyming books
  • Encourage your child to tell stories
  • Make up fun rhymes while doing chores
  • Sing instead of talk
  • Ask question and encourage child to ask questions
  • Label things around the house
  • Talk about letters and what they mean
  • Supply a wide variety of literacy equipment (crayons, paper, pens, envelopes, etc.)

Predictable Books


Predictable books are books which consist of rhyming, repetition, pattern of words, repeated scenes, or sequences. These stories include children in the reading process, children are able to take guesses and make predictions about what will happen next, what word will come next, or what character will show up next. Kinds of predictable books and some examples are listed below.

Chain or Circular Story


The plot is structured so the end is also the beginning.

  • 50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema

Cumulative Story


Every time a new event occurs previous events are repeated.

  • "Not Me," Said the Monkey by Colin West
  • Moira's Birthday by Robert Munsch
  • The Gingerbread Man by Jean Richards
  • Today Is Monday by Eric Carle

Familiar Sequence


Uses recognizable themes like the days of the week or months of the year.

  • The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Today Is Monday by Eric Carle

Question and Answer


The same or similar questions are repeated throughout the story.

  • Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle
  • Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle

Repetition of Phrase


A phrase or sentence is repeated throughout the book.

  • A Mouse In My House by Nancy Van Laan
  • A Promise Is a Promise by Robert Munsch
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • "I Don't Care!" Said the Bear by Colin West
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles B. Shaw
  • Mortimer by Robert Munsch



Rhyming words, refrains, or patterns are used throughout the story.

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr
  • The Wheels on the Bus by Maryann Kovalski
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

External Research Papers


External Websites



  • Brooker, L. (2002). 'Five on the first of December!': What can we learn from case studies of early childhood literacy? Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 2, 291-313. Online Link
  • Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2003). New Technologies in Early Childhood Literacy Research: A Review of Research. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 3, 59-82. Online Link