Written By: Cassandra Hicks, M.A., CCC-SLP

Children reading a book

What is Print Awareness?

The power of books is not just limited to children who have already learned to read. Our early language users can practice important skills, like print awareness, when reading with an adult. Print awareness is the understanding that written language has meaning and is related to oral language. (Ages 4-5)

How can I practice this with my child?

  • Use your finger to trace along the words while you read aloud. This helps children understand that we read top-to-bottom and left-to-right.
  • Ask your child to find letters in the text i.e. “Can you show me the letter A?”
  • Introduce parts of the book by name: “This is the title.” “This is the author, their name is ___”.

What are WH-Questions?

Asking and answering questions are an important skill in developing language. They are used in almost all settings, including in conversations, in the classroom, and even on the playground. Typically, kids develop an understanding of “what” questions first (ages 1-2), then “who” and “where (ages 2-3), and finally “when” and “why” (ages 3-4).

How can I practice this with my child?

  • You can first model answers to help your child understand questions types. For example: “What is he doing? He is jumping on the bed.”
  • Use all of the WH-question starters (who, what, where, when, why) to help build awareness of the different types of questions and how they each ask about something different.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions too! If they have difficulty with this, give them a question word (i.e., “what”) as a prompt.

What is Summarizing & Sequencing?

These concepts can be tricky for kids to master as they involve a number of skills. Children need to remember the details of the story, put them in order, and categorize the information as “important” or “not important”.  (Ages 4-5)

How can I practice this with my child?

  • Use “First”, “Next”, and “Then” prompts to help your child recall information in order. 
  • After you finished the story, flip back through the book to show your child the pictures again. Pictures can serve as a visual reminder of what happened in the book.
  • In order to make summarizing a little easier, have your child answer WH-questions. i.e., “Who is the story about?”/ “Where did they go?” These questions can help your child recall and organize the parts of the story.

What is Predicting and Inferencing?

Predicting and inferencing are important skills for language development because they involve both the receptive and expressive components of language. Children must use their receptive language skills to recall the story and comprehend the language. Then they use the expressive language skills to organize their thoughts and share them aloud with you. (Ages 5+)

How can I practice this with my child?

  • Before turning the page, ask your child to predict what will happen next. Then flip the page and see if they were right!
  • Inferencing is also a great way to incorporate social skills into reading. Ask your child to label the emotions of characters based on their facial expressions and body language in the pictures.
  • Use wordless books and create your own story. Have your child make inferences on the relationships of the characters and why they are performing certain actions. No right or wrong answers here!

What about articulation?

Books can also be used to target speech sounds that your child is having difficulty with. Books with repetitive phrases like “Brown Bear Brown Bear” for the /b/ sound and “Llama Llama Red Pajama” for the /l/ sound can provide ample opportunities for practice. As we all know, practice makes progress! (Ages 3+)

How can I practice this with my child?

  • Emphasize your child’s target sounds while reading. This can help build awareness of the sounds they are practicing.
  • Have your child repeat back words or phrases from the story with their sound.
  • Ask your child to count how many times they hear their target sound in a sentence. For example: “The big bus is going to school” makes the /b/ sound twice. 

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