This fifth and final post in a series about the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library initiative focuses on the importance of play. Playing is one of the ways your child builds early literacy skills. Every Child Ready to Read outlines four additional early literacy practices--talking, singing, reading, and writing--for parents and caregivers to do with young children (0-5 years) on a regular basis.
Children explore language and learn about the world through imaginative play. They practice putting their thoughts into words and begin to think symbolically. For example, a cardboard tube stands for a telescope or a box becomes a robot when a child is engaged in play. This is a key developmental step for reading readiness. Literacy research shows that knowing how to think symbolically is important for also understanding that words on the page stand for real objects or experiences in the world. Imaginative play narratives also help children understand and explore the building blocks of stories. When children play "house" or "doctor" or build towns with blocks, they are creating their own stories and they are also getting ready to read! You can add "literacy-rich" items to your child's playtime such as a dress-up box, puppets, and items that can be used in play narratives, like takeout menus and a notepad for taking orders when playing "restaurant."