Early Literacy Tip: Read and Teach Your Child Nursery Rhymes

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.

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.

Today’s Early Literacy Tip is: Read and teach your child Nursery Rhymes.

Nursery rhymes are a great way to introduce your child to words and language as they are able to incorporate three different elements; rhyming words, movement and melody, into helping get your child ready to read.

Rhyming words are a key component to teaching your child phonics. It lets them hear how words and sounds are connected to each other and helps them later when they are trying to “sound out” more difficult and unfamiliar words.

Often nursery rhymes will be associated with some type of movement which also helps them learn. When they are able to associate a movement or action with a word, such as the “rolling” movement in Pat-A-Cake, they are able to learn and understand that word even faster.

Associating a song with a melody also helps the child break down a word into its smaller units of sounds and puts them father along when they are finally ready to read. You can read more about our Singing Early Literacy Tip here.

Nursery Rhymes are easy to learn and easy to share, and you can share them anywhere and while doing pretty much anything. They also come from many countries, so they are a great way to learn a little about other cultures. Mother Goose is always a particular favorite, but you can also look at authors like Edward Lear, Heinrich Hoffman and even Lewis Carrol.


As always you can ask your librarian for help finding nursery rhymes, or there is a wealth of rhymes on Google and through the Libby app, free with your library card:

Urgency Emergency: Itsy Bitsy Spider by Dosh Archer
Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever! by Richard Scarry
La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal
The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall
The Little Red Hen by Christianne Jones and Natalie Magnuson

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