Let’s Talk About Learning to Read – Beginning with Very Young Children

Posted on March 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart in Teacher Resources


image of an alphabet game board

The process of learning to read begins long before children begin kindergarten. Learning to read begins when children are babies. Very young children love to learn new words and they especially like to use their voices to play with sounds. When spending time with very young children, chatting, sharing rhymes and reading aloud all contribute to reading readiness. If we take time to examine what we would like youngsters to know before they start kindergarten, we wil be guided in our choices about stories to share and the importance of engaging young children in conversation and wordplay.
  • Before starting kindergarten, we would like children to know some nursery rhymes.  Why not use our printable nursery rhymes or visit your public library and borrow a nursery rhyme book or two?  Here are our free downloads:

    image of PDF icon  Hey Diddle Diddle

    Traditional English nursery rhyme that includes repetition, rhyming and imagery.

    image of PDF icon  Humpty Dumpty

    Traditional English-language nursery rhyme. Usually includes an anthropomorphic (possessing human traits, emotions) egg.

    image of PDF icon  Jack and Jill

    Traditional English-language nursery rhyme. Includes alliteration and rhyming.

    image of PDF icon  Little Boy Blue

    Traditional English-language nursery rhyme featuring alliteration and rhyming.

    image of PDF icon  Old Mother Hubbard

    Traditional English-language nursery rhyme.

    image of PDF icon  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

    Classic Nursery Rhyme written by Jane Taylor

  • We would also like youngsters to know how to re-tell a favourite story.  I suggest ‘reading’ wordless picture books with your child and then ask her to re-tell the story. Dinnertable conversation can also be an opportunity to share stories. As well, rides in the car are a great opportunity for storytellling.
  • Also, before beginning school, we would like to children to understand that when we read a story, it is very much like being able to see the same words we speak
  • We would also like children to know some or even most of the letters of the alphabet. You will find lots of free, printable alphabets on this site for children who are learning to read.

    image of PDF icon  A Caveman Alphabet

    Free printable alphabet features a fun caveman for each letter.

    image of PDF icon  A Colourful Alphabet

    Free printable alphabet uses bright colours for each letter.

    image of PDF icon  A Fruit and Vegetables Alphabet

    Free printable alphabet features a fruit or vegetable for each letter.

    image of PDF icon  A Brush Stroke Alphabet

    A printable brush stroke alphabet - great for children who are learning letters. This alphabet can be used in a variety of ways: create an alphabet ‘strip’ or cut the letters apart, mix and then put in ABC order. Or, print two sets, cut apart and create an alphabet memory/matching game.

    image of PDF icon  A Marching Alphabet

  • Use the alphabets to create matching and memory games, or an alphabet strip or spell your child’s name with them.

  • Ideally, children beginning kindergarten should understand that letters each have at least one sound associated with them. Help your child to learn this by explaining the sounds made by “P,” “F,” “M” and “S” because these sounds are very distintive.
  •  We’d also like children who are learning to read to understand that books written in English are read from front to back and pages written in English are read from left to right. When enjoying a read aloud, talk with youngsters about the cover and the spine of a book. Notice whether a book is paperback or hardcover and point out a book jacket if there is one. Ask your child to open the book and find the title page. Remember to look for information about the author and/or the illustrator. Once you start to read aloud, casually point out the words you are reading and move your finger from left to right as you read a story.
    Usually when I read a book that uses LARGE, BOLD letters for some especially great words, I make a point of repeating the best passages and I encourage my audience to “read” the words with me when I read them a second (or third) time!

Note: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.

Our early literacy printables, including our nursery rhyme and alphabet printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.

Please note: some of our early literacy printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website (without cost or obligation), please click on the “Members” tab and register as a user.

You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early literacy printables here.

If you appreciate our nursery rhymes and alphabet printables, please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

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