Preschool children are very active and often show increased interest in reading and learning. They have more advanced language skills and are able to engage with and participate in more complex stories and activities. They are increasingly independent and often want to do activities on their own or with minimal caregiver guidance. Preschool children are preparing to enter school and are ready for in-depth focus on all six early literacy skills. While building these abilities, don’t forget to make learning fun!

To choose books for your preschooler, check out our 100 Books to Read Before Kindergarten book list or ask a librarian for suggestions!

Letter Knowledge

To promote letter knowledge in storytime, we do things like sing The ABC Song or point out letters on books and other printed materials. Here are a few things you can try at home:

  • Check out a few of our alphabet books from the library.
  • Occasionally spell out the title of a book before you begin reading.
  • Point out objects or printed words that begin with the same letter as your child’s name.

Narrative Skills

At the library, we talk together about the books we read in storytime and often pause to ask the children what they think might happen next. At home, parents and caregivers can do the following to increase narrative skills:

  • Ask questions about the books you read with your child. Let them talk to you about the characters, settings, and situations you find in each story.
  • Make up stories to tell to your child.  Have them participate and shape the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  • Talk to your child about your day and the things you did at home or at work. Encourage them to tell you stories about what they did, as well.

Phonological Awareness

We often read rhyming stories and sing songs in storytime. Rhythm and rhyme slow down language and make those smaller sounds easier to hear. Here are some easy activities you can try to build your child’s phonological awareness:

  • Check out children’s music from the library and listen to it in the car, around the house, or at bedtime.
  • Find easy rhymes and fingerplays on our parent handouts from storytime and practice them at home.
  • Read rhyming stories together and pause to let your child say the rhyming word.

Print Awareness

The library is a literacy-rich environment, full of labels, signs, and printed materials. At storytime, we often play with print to build a child’s awareness of how books and other printed materials work. For example, the reader might begin a story with the book upside down until someone notices that it’s not right. There are many ways to build print awareness at home:

  • Make grocery and to-do lists and read them aloud as you write. When you arrive at the store or complete your tasks, point them out to your child as you cross them off the list.
  • Point out words in your daily life. Adults often disregard print on billboards, traffic signs, iPods, and cereal boxes, but pre-readers don’t yet realize that those squiggly lines carry meaning.
  • Put a sign on your child’s bedroom door that says something like “Oliver’s Room.” Label their bed, dresser, lamp, and other objects with the corresponding words.

Print Motivation

The library is all about making reading fun! We tailor our collections and programs around the interests and developmental needs of our community.  Here’s how you can encourage print motivation in your child:

  • Children learn by watching the adults in their lives. Show your children how much you enjoy reading, and they are more likely to learn to love it themselves.
  • Let your child select books at the library and sign them up for their very own library card. With their growing independence, preschoolers find checking out their own books on their own card to be a very rewarding experience.
  • Make your home a literacy-rich environment. Have books available anywhere you might find an opportunity to read with your child (bedroom, family room, bathroom, etc.).


Picture books often contain language that children don’t hear on a day-to-day basis. As we encounter these unusual words in storytime, we pause to discuss their meanings, or use synonyms that are familiar to the child. Here are a few things you can do at home to build your child’s vocabulary:

  • Music also often contains words that don’t come up in spoken language on a regular basis. Check out library CDs from children’s artists such as Jim Gill, Laurie Berkner, and Dr. Jean for fun ways to learn new words!
  • Read non-fiction books with your children. They contain a wealth of new vocabulary.
  • When you encounter a particularly long word in a story book, occasionally stop and clap out the syllables of the word. Encourage your child to repeat the word several times to build their familiarity.


Remember! Early literacy is not about teaching your child how to read, but rather building the skills they need to be successful when they begin reading instruction later on. Motivate them by making their experiences with books and reading fun!