Early Literacy Tip: Talk to Your Child

In our Building Blocks to Early Literacy series, we will share early literacy tips for you to do at home to help your child get ready to learn to read.

What children need to know about reading and writing before they can read or write is called early literacy. 

As your child’s caregiver, you are their first teacher. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, a time your child spends with you. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. As a child ages, the brain gets rid of weaker synaptic connections in favor of stronger ones. 

We can improve the strength of synaptic connections with experiences that reinforce learning that has already occurred. Our first early literacy tip is a simple one: talking with your child!

The more words your child hears, and the earlier they start to hear them, the more capable they will be when they start reading on their own. Their vocabulary will be bigger and they will be better able to recognize and understand the words they see on the page.

One great way to talk to your child is to ask them more than just a simple “yes” or “no” question. Open-ended questions encourage them to use their vocabulary to explore possible answers and even prompts them to ask more questions in return.

It doesn’t matter what language you speak to your child just speak whatever language you are most comfortable with. You can even use sign language, but that is a topic for another day!

One thing to keep in mind when talking to your child, your toddler will understand way more than they can speak so make sure you use all your words as well and don’t feel you have to talk down to them.


As with any toddler, picture books are a great way to start conversations with your child. You can ask them questions about the story and what just happened or maybe even what they think will happen next.

You can browse the Overdrive catalog online for eBooks (or use the Libby app) to find any number of picture books you can share with them, including read-alongs. We even have read-alongs in Spanish!

See our blog post here to learn how to get started with the Libby app.

Some good picture book authors to share with your children:


You can read more about Every Child Ready to Read and other ways to boost early learning through the library on our blog. You can always browse all blog posts tagged Early Learning for more content specific to this age group.

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