How parents can support literacy at home

Early language and literacy skills are the roots of reading success, and it is never too soon to plant the seeds!  In fact, the foundation of literacy begins developing at birth through positive everyday interactions and experiences. Research shows that talking, reading, singing, and playing with your child every day, from birth, helps build their brains, as well as important language, math, reading, and social skills for use in school and beyond. Young children learn new sounds, words, and letters when you talk, read, sing and write together.

Reading with children from an early age helps them develop a solid foundation for literacy. Yet, that doesn’t mean we should stop reading with our children as they grow.  Parents and caregivers can foster language and literacy skills with infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents during regular activities without adding extra time to the day.  It is important to remember that regardless of their age, all children can benefit from being read to. Reading also promotes bonding and nurturing of the relationship you have with your child.

The best way for us to promote literacy with our children is to show them that reading and writing are a part of everyday life and can be fun and enjoyable. Activities to consider may include the following:

  • Spend time reading and being conversational every day.
  • Talk to your child about everyday things you are doing and seeing together. This helps your child learn new words and builds vocabulary.
  • Read to your child(ren) every day. Read! Read! Read!
  • Allow choice as a key concept in reading and writing. This builds agency and efficacy in children.
  • Read or recite rhymes to your child. Your child learns words from this rich language.
  • Ask your child questions, model your thinking, and respond to their answers. Providing questions before, during, and after reading promotes metacognition.
  • Model reading and writing behavior you would like to see. Children learn by seeing.
  • Integrate digital media as an engaging extension of literacy.
  • Have books readily available in the spaces in which children spend the most time.
  • Encourage all forms and genres of reading and writing regardless of age.
  • Practice storytelling. Children increase imagination, creativity, and fluency.
  • Consume nonfiction. Children build background knowledge and vocabulary.


Bultje, AshleyAshley Bultje is a Literacy Consultant at Central Rivers Area Education Agency, based in Cedar Falls. She can be reached at Central Rivers AEA is proud to support literacy from birth to twelfth grade. Please visit or our Central Rivers AEA Literacy Website for more information.