The five early literacy practices start with what parents and caregivers are already doing with their children. Using the information from the six early literacy skills, the focus of the teaching is to emphasize to parents and caregivers how to maximize those practices for early literacy development. The five early literacy practices are: sing, talk, read, write, and play.


Shared reading is the best way to help children get ready to read. Reading together and talking about what you read helps children increase their vocabulary and background knowledge, learn how books work, but also helps children develop a love of reading.

Reading aloud to children helps with:


Both reading and writing are ways to represent spoken words and to tell stories or communicate. When children are given a chance to explore making marks, scribbling, drawing pictures, and telling stories, they are practicing reading skills.

Scribbling, drawing, and telling stories helps with:


Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to adults talk. As children listen to spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean while gaining important general knowledge about the world around them. This knowledge will help children understand the meaning of what they read.

Talking to children helps with:


Songs help children develop listening skills and pay attention to rhymes and rhythms. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps children when they begin to read.

It is important to be aware that some popular folk songs have a racist past. Even when we change the lyrics, the tune is recognizable and cannot be “unheard” by those who know the original, problematic lyrics. Much has been written on the topic lately, and The American Kodaly Institute keeps an updated list of questionable songs here.

Singing with children helps with:


Through play, especially pretend and dramatic play, children learn about language. When children pretend, they’re thinking symbolically, which helps them to understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children to express themselves and put thoughts into words and practice narrative skills like sequencing.

Playing with children helps with:

More Resources