The National Children's Literacy Website is a unique children's literacy initiative and is part of the Soho Center's National Children's Literacy Information Project - a not-for-profit
literacy initiative dedicated to advancing the literacy skills of young children, promoting literacy as an integral factor
in the growth of society, and enhancing literacy in a variety of
home and child care settings. We believe that reading is a fundamental skill needed by all, and we are proud of what we are doing to help children learn to read.


The First 5 Years Matter

Newborn Child
Y o u   M a k e   T h e   D i f f e r e n c e !

Research shows that children thrive if they receive really good attention and care from their parents, teachers, and child care providers. But we all know that good parenting, good education, and good child care isn't easy; it doesn't just "happen."  So very many things need to be taken care of - each child's health and safety, each child's need for nutritious food, each child's need for comfort and love. 

Each of these very basic, crucial needs have to be met every morning, every afternoon, and every evening of every single day.  Not an easy matter, but it's definitely what good parents, good teachers, and good child care providers work every day to do.Good parents, good teachers, and good child care providers take care of children's physical and emotional needs to the very best of their abilities and they do something else that is equally important.  They learn how to support each child's intellectual development and make a commitment to offer each child age-appropriate educational experiences every morning, every afternoon, and every evening of every single day.

Some age-appropriate educational experiences take less than a minute to do -

  Place a well-chosen toy within reach of an infant as you smile and say, "this is for you"

  Tell a toddler the name of the vegetable on his plate and encourage him to taste a little

  Praise a two-year-old for how she stacked "three little blocks on top of each other" 

  Put the name of a three-year-old on his drawing while he hears you say his name and watches you write and say each letter of his name

  Give a four-year-old several books to look at while she is in the car, on the bus, or simply waiting for a meal to be ready - and tell her the name of each of the books

Some age-appropriate educational experiences take 5, 10, or 20 minutes to do -

  Hold an infant close to you while you feed her, look at her, and talk to her

  Change a toddler's diaper while you describe what you are doing and praise him for lying still for a few moments

  Ask a two-year-old to choose a favorite book to read with you and then letting him help turn the pages and point to some of the pictures while you read the words

  Help a three-year-old with "clean up time," putting each toy back where it belongs while you and he name the objects and discuss where each one goes

  Cook something simple with a four-year-old using a recipe with pictures while you talk to each other about ingredients, how they look and taste, and the sequence of what needs to be done

  Ask your child to tell you about a picture he drew and write down what he says word-for-word.  Then read it back to him.

Ask your child to "sound out" the beginning sound of some words in a familiar book, on a cereal box, or on store sign when you're out shopping.

These are all things you can do - starting today.  And these are all things that matter. 

Why?  Because these types of daily educational experiences help children understand that spoken words have meaning.  They help children acquire a large, useful vocabulary.  They encourage children to try new activities and to be active, confident learners. They provide practice with small motor skills and eye-hand coordination.  They show that printed words have meaning.  And they help children associate books and reading with pleasurable experiences.

All this becomes the foundation for children learning to read and becoming successful readers.

So just remember - A little bit each day goes a long way.  And a little bit more each day really adds up!


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