Early Literacy Tip: Run Your Finger Under the Words as You Read to Your Child

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: Run Your Finger Under the Printed Words When Reading to Your Child.

Running your finger under the text of a reader or picture book does many things to help get your child ready to read.

First, it lets your child know that you are actually reading the text of the book and not just narrating the pictures. They are also following along and able to see the words that you are saying which helps them with their word recognition.

Another benefit to following along with the text is that it shows your child how a book actually works. It lets them know where to start on a page and where a page might end. This may seem like a very basic concept but in a community as diverse as our’s, children are exposed to books in many different ways and this will help them understand the format and the process for the book they are reading right now.


Plano Public Library has a fantastic collection of Early Readers and Picture Books and all of them are available through our online catalog or through the Libby app. So find a book you and your child can enjoy and get them ready to read.

In Overdrive, or the Libby app, you can look at Beginning Readers (Early Readers). Readers are designed to help your child learn new vocabulary and phonics, with various levels to make your way into beginner chapter books down the road. On some covers you will notice a “1”, “2” or “3” which denotes the level of complexity the Reader has.

Picture books can be for any level of reader and cover many topics. These are great for reading together and exploring new areas of interest (e.g. dinosaurs), tough topics (feelings) and new experiences (going to the doctor).

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