Thursday, April 16, 2009

Print Awareness

"The earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects." -Cotton, K. Wikelund, K., Northwest Regional Education Laboratory School Improvement Research Series, In Parent Involvement in Education.

Print Awareness "Use Books"
understanding how a book or a piece of writing works. When children go to school understanding how print (books and other written materials) works, they are more likely to be ready to learn other things about reading.
  • The symbols on a page are called letters; when all together, they are called words; and words have meaning
  • The series of words on the front of a book is the title and, likely, the name of the author and illustrator
  • A book has a front and a back, a top and a bottom
  • We turn the pages of the book
    from right to left, but we read the words from left to right. (This applies to English)
  • We start at the top of the page (or paragraph) when reading
  • We read the words in a book (rather than "reading" the pictures)
  • Books and other written material contain information
  • People use books and other written materials to help them in their daily lives (writing and using lists, looking things up, enjoying a story, reading the newspaper, figuring out which bus to take, writing letters and e-mail, and more)
Print Awareness can occur as early as 18 months of age. Children will imitate or pretend to read The book may be upside down, they may turn the pages the "wrong way", and they may use a "reading voice" while pretending.

Gradually, the children will hold the book properly, turn the pages one at a time, and even run their fingers along the print as though they were reading it.

Children may recognize familiar signs in their neighborhood, such as STOP signs. This is called
environmental print.

They may point out some printed words and then "read" them. A child may insist that they are reading the words correctly, even though they say
something different.

Print Awareness in Storytime
  • Each time you open a book, show the children the cover. Open the book as it is facing the children. Point to the printed title and author's and illustrator's names on the cover.
  • Talk with children about the specific elements of a book - title, author, and illustrator.
  • Occasionally, run your finger along the text as you read (particularly when words repeat or are otherwise interesting).
  • With preschoolers, you can read a book in a mixed-up manner and see if the children can correct you. Hold the book upside-down, or try to read the book from the back to the front. Be silly; have FUN!
  • If your storytime includes craft time, make books with children about topics of interest to them (such as dinosaurs, trucks, or birds). It may take several weeks, but if your group is fairly consistent, the process of making a book will help children learn the parts of the book and how a book works in English (the story goes from front to back, the writing goes from left to right, and title goes on the front cover).
  • Read books that highlight print of the characters engaged in writing.
  • Model how you use print in everyday life. Some ideas include making nametags for the children attending storytime or making a list of characters in a book while reading with children.
  • After sharing a flannel-board story, show the children the book it came from. You may want to open the book and show them how the character looks in the book.
  • Make large print copies of the songs or rhymes you are sharing and post them in a visible location. Occasionally point to a word or phrase on the posted sheet as you sing or recite those words.
Print Awareness Comments for Adults in Storytime:
  • "When you read to your baby, he begins to learn so many things about books, including how a book works. The knowledge of how books work is called print awareness, one of the six early literacy skills researchers have identified as crucial to reading success."
  • "Sometimes reading looks like chewing. That's okay because your baby is learning to feel comfortable with books. Babies who play with books find it easier to learn to read later on."
  • For Older toddlers and preschoolers: "To build your child's print awareness, help your child discover how to hold a book and turn the pages."
  • "When reading to your child, occasionally point out words in the book and talk about them. This helps your child distinguish between the pictures and the words and builds print awareness."
  • "At home, try holding the book upside down or backward and pretend to start to read. If your child recognizes your mistake, praise her and talk about the parts of the book. If your child doesn't understand, simply explain, "Oh, I made a mistake. Look, the book is upside down!" Then talk about the book. Gradually build on your child's knowledge of how a book works."
  • " As you are going about your day, point out words in your child's environment, like the word "STOP" on a stop sign, "bus" at the bus stop, or "apples" in the grocery store. This builds your child's print awareness, one of the six early literacy skills."


What Can We Do for Print Awareness?
  • Variety of books, including pop ups and toy books
  • Word strips, pictures for flannel board or on sentence strips, keep it simple
  • Training for storytime presenters to illustrate book skills like holding right side up, reading left to right, reading top to bottom etc.
  • Ways to put words and pictures together. For example; STAR is another way to say:

What Can Parents and Caregivers Do for Print Awareness?
  • Run a finger under the words as they are read
  • Call attention to signs and print on the road, at the store, in restaurants
  • Write messages to your children to show that print is useful and carries meaning

Suggested Books
  • Yes by Jez Alborough
  • Wiggle by Doreen Cronin
  • What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas
  • A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Susanne Bloom
  • Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • I Stink! by Kate McMullan
  • Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka
  • Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting

1 comment:

  1. I loved all of your suggestions and book ideas. Great post. I added a link to your article here: