Literacy in the lives of infants and toddlers
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Literacy in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers. TN State Improvement Grant Preschool Literacy Training Project East Tennessee State University. In This Session We Will:. Define literacy for infants and toddlers

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Literacy in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers

TN State Improvement Grant

Preschool Literacy Training Project

East Tennessee State University


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In This Session We Will:

  • Define literacy for infants and toddlers

  • Discuss developmentally appropriate literacy strategies for caregivers and families

  • Discuss criteria for choosing books for infants and toddlers

  • Role play talking and reading with infants and toddlers

  • Receive a reference list of books for infants and toddlers


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Defining Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers

  • Curriculum for infants and toddlers is what you do every day

  • It includes all routines and activities

  • It should be flexible and follow the child’s lead

  • It is more individualized than preschool curriculum


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“But how can you teach literacy if they can’t even talk?”

By understanding what roles literacy plays in the daily lives of infants and toddlers


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Receptive Language – Talk to Them

    • Brain research shows that the first three years are a window of opportunity for language development

    • By talking with infants and toddlers during daily routines and activities, caregivers expose them to new vocabulary and help “wire” their brain for language


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Expressive Language – Hear and Respond

    • The first time a newborn cries and has his/her needs met by a caregiver, the baby starts to learn that language is used to communicate with others

    • When a caregiver recognizes the very young child’s attempts to communicate verbally and responds, the child is more likely to continue the attempts, which increases expressive language development


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Book Handling – From Mouthing to Page Turning

    • Infants use all of their senses to explore books and make sense of what they can do with them

    • Caregivers model book handling by reading out loud to infants and toddlers and letting them help to turn pages

    • Older infants and toddlers will start to handle books in more conventional ways by turning pages back and forth as they look at pictures


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Reading Books – A New Language

    • When caregivers read stories or say nursery rhymes, infants begin to hear a difference between conversational speech and “book speech”

    • When older infants and toddlers turn the pages of a book and babble/label pictures/tell a story, they are beginning to understand the function of books


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Fine Motor Skills – Practice Using the Hands

    • Infants and toddlers need opportunities throughout the day to explore with their hands

    • Caregivers who provide lots of hands-on exploration allow infants and toddlers to learn through their senses and develop the fine motor skills that will eventually be used in writing


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How Does Literacy Fit In? talk?”

  • Daily Routines – Language-Rich Environment

    • Caregivers who describe what they are doing during routines help infants and toddlers know what to expect and expose them to language throughout the day

    • Use of transition songs or rhymes during routines helps infants and toddlers discriminate “book talk” from conversation, and is a precursor to being able to listen to books read aloud

    • Caregivers who make favorite books available during diaper changes, naps, and other routines begin to instill the idea that reading is a source of enjoyment and should be a daily occurrence


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Birth to 3 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Need head support when sitting on lap

  • Spend lots of time looking around

  • Vision is fuzzy

  • See best at 7-8 inches away from face

  • Notice patterns with large details

  • Prefer patterns with sharp contrast in colors

  • Grasping is a reflex, not voluntary

  • Respond to child-directed speech

  • First language is crying; cooing is added by 3 months


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Basic needs take up most of the newborn’s daily schedule

  • It is difficult to hold a book and support the infant’s head at the same time

  • Books can be displayed along the crib and on the floor where infants are active; but do not overstimulate by surrounding the baby with books

  • Caregivers can introduce “book speech” by reciting nursery rhymes and chants from memory


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • Birth to 3 Months

    • Must be interesting visually

    • Large, simple pictures with a contrasting background (ex. Black and white patterning)

    • Books should stand up independently (cardboard)

    • Fold-out pages can be stretched out to make one long panel


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4 to 6 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Able to reach and grasp, but thumb is not yet opposable

  • Will mouth everything

  • Like to bang and wave objects; very focused on using their hands

  • Usually start to sit up by 6 months

  • Add consonants to cooing

  • Make “raspberry” sounds

  • Can have “conversations” with caregivers by taking turns making sounds


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Caregivers can now easily hold the baby and the book

  • Infants will explore the book with mouth and hands more often than visually

  • Caregivers can provide a toy for the infant’s mouth and hands to increase the time spent looking at the book

  • Caregivers can add actions to the familiar nursery rhymes and chants to make the process an interactive game (ex. “This Little Piggy”)


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • 4 to 6 Months

    • Cloth and vinyl books are most appropriate for this age because they are easy to grasp, can be mouthed, and are washable

    • Infants still enjoy simple pictures with contrasting backgrounds

    • Cloth books may fade during washing, so pick especially bright illustrations


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7 to 9 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Now able to use both hands to manipulate an object

  • Can turn pages of certain types of books

  • Very interested in what objects will do, leading to crushing, ripping, etc.


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Caregivers can now share a book with infants for longer time periods

  • Book reading is primarily labeling the pictures

  • Babies now enjoy books with rhythmic language; books with a story and plot are not interesting yet

  • Infants may want to hold and explore the book during the reading

  • Caregivers should let the baby manipulate the book and continue to talk about the pictures, instead of trying to keep the book out of the baby’s hands

  • Caregivers should not try to force the infant to let them finish the book; focus on the process of exploration


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • 7 to 9 Months

    • Choose cardboard books more often than cloth or vinyl; cardboard pages are easier for the infant to turn independently

    • Books with paper pages will most likely be torn, crumpled, and mouthed and should not be used independently; caregivers can read them aloud and store in a safe place

    • Little Chunky books are designed for easy page-turning


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9 to 12 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Fine motor skills become more developed

  • By 12 months can probably put large pegs in holes and pull pop beads apart

  • May start walking and/or utter first word

  • Receptive language is about 50 words; expressive language is 1-2 words

  • May bring books and toys to caregiver to initiate activity

  • Starts teething


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Provide a teething ring to decrease book chewing for teething infants

  • Caregivers can follow a 4-step process to scaffold during the book reading:

    • 1. Get the infant’s attention – “Look at that!”

    • 2. Ask a labeling question – “What do you see?”

    • 3. Wait for a response, or provide a response if the baby does not answer in some way

    • 4. Provide feedback; expand on the baby’s response


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • 9 to 12 Months

    • Infants are now more interested in the book’s contents than its physical properties

    • Choose books with pictures of objects and events that are familiar to the infant’s world

    • Cardboard books are still the most appropriate for the infant’s hands

    • Avoid stories for preschoolers replicated in cardboard form


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12 to 18 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Expressive language increases greatly

  • Very interested in naming things

  • By 18 months may be using 2-word sentences

  • Uses holophrases – one word to convey different meanings

  • Starts using objects for pretend play


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Children of this age still like pictures to be named, and they will often repeat what the caregiver says

  • Caregivers can give more details and facts about the picture after labeling it

  • When reading predictable books, such as nursery rhymes, caregivers should slow down to give the child a chance to chime in

  • Caregivers should be flexible during the reading to allow the child to go find familiar objects that are in the book


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • 12 to 18 Months

    • Infants now enjoy books with familiar characters and familiar roles (mommies or daddies, other children, animals)

    • Since they are just beginning to sing, they may enjoy books with songs and musical books

    • By 18 months, toddlers may be interested in books with actual stories that relate to their own experience

    • Choose “theme books” with related pages and a few words, but no plot


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19 to 30 Months about what the child can do” .

  • Talks in sentences more frequently

  • Is increasingly able to answer questions about recent events

  • Interest in how things work increases

  • Asks lots of “why” questions

  • Pretend play often happens in sequences

  • Often wants to be independent and dependent at the same time


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Literacy Strategies about what the child can do” .

  • Caregivers can have extensive book conversations with older toddlers

  • These conversations should relate what is happening in the book to the child’s own experiences

  • Caregivers should ask questions that give the child opportunities to share thoughts and feelings


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Choosing Books for Infants & Toddlers about what the child can do” .

  • 19 to 30 Months

    • Toddlers now enjoy actual stories about things that might be happening in their own lives (ex. using the potty, separation anxiety, bed time, trying new foods)

    • Choose books with pictures on every page and a small amount of text

    • Choose books with text closely related to the pictures

    • Choose predictable books so toddlers can guess what will happen next or chime in with repetitive phrases


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Role Playing Activity about what the child can do” .

  • Get into groups of 3-4

  • Send a group member to choose one book

  • In your group, decide which age group this book would be most suitable for and why

  • Discuss what literacy strategies you would use to share the book with a child in that age group

  • Model these strategies within your group

  • Volunteers share with the larger group


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Imagination Library about what the child can do” .

  • Dolly Parton’s program to provide 1 free book each month from birth to age 5 in participating counties

  • Governor Bredesen’s Books From Birth Foundation has made it possible for all 95 Tennessee counties to participate

  • Parents/guardians fill out and return a registration brochure for their county

  • Visit http://www.governorsfoundation.org/county.htm to find contact information for each county


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About SIG about what the child can do” .

  • The Preschool Literacy Training Project is part of the TN State Improvement Grant (SIG), which provides wrap-around services for Reading First schools and preschools that feed into those schools across the state

  • The Preschool Literacy Training Project offers parent workshops, curriculum support, and professional development opportunities for participating teachers

  • For more information, please contact Alissa Ongie at: 423-439-7841 or [email protected]

  • http://sig.cls.utk.edu/ - TN SIG web site


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Sources Used about what the child can do” .

  • Schickedanz, J.A. (1999). Much More Than the ABCs: The Early Stages of Reading and Writing. NAEYC, Washington, DC.

  • Dombro, A.L., Colker, L. J., & Dodge, D.T. (1997). The Creative Curriculum for Infants & Toddlers, revised ed. Teaching Strategies, Inc., Washington, DC.

  • Neuman, S.B., Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2000). Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. NAEYC, Washington, DC.

  • http://www.governorsfoundation.org/ - Governor’s Books From Birth Foundation web site

  • http://www.imaginationlibrary.com/ - Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library web site


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