Early Literacy: More than Just Books!

One of the best parts of being a children's librarian is building relationships with kids and families. Watching kids grow and learn over the years is simply the best!

I first met Lukas when he was a wiggly 2-year-old and a regular at my toddler storytime. He's now a  5-year-old preschooler, so I don’t see him as much as I used to. A few weeks ago Lukas came to the library with his mom, Marta, on his spring break. During our craft activity after storytime, I was catching-up with Marta and learned Lukas now loves to draw. I immediately went to the stacks and found Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Trucks and Trains.

While probably best known for his picture book, Go Away, Big Green Monster!, and the Caldecott winning, Drummer Hoff, Emberley also has a great series of drawing books for kids. At the beginning of each book, he shows a series of shapes (things like a circle, square, angled lines) and says if you can draw these, you can draw everything in this book. Brilliant!

I showed the book to Lukas and asked if he thought he could draw the shapes. He quickly said, “Yes!” and was soon pouring over the pages. Last week, Lukas and Marta returned to the library. Lukas wanted to give me a present – this awesome drawing of two trains with connector tracks! We had a great conversation about all the different cars, what was in them, where they were going.

Here at the Children’s Library, we strive to immerse kids in an early literacy rich environment. Early literacy is what a child knows about reading and writing before they can actually read or write. Books, of course, play an important role in this process. There are also many activities beyond sharing books which foster early literacy skills.

Exploring art is a great way to expand children’s early literacy skills. When a child draws with a pencil or crayon, shapes clay or cuts with scissors, they’re strengthening finger muscles and developing fine motor skills – all key skills for writing.

Talking with children about their art builds vocabulary and narrative skills. There’s a whole story behind Lukas’ drawing and he was ready to share it with me! During the course of our conversation we used words like caboose, hopper, tank car, cattle, engineer, and destination.

Try some of these titles to spring “beyond books” with your preschooler and get creative with early literacy!

Written by Ann on April 23, 2013


Martaheb on April 24, 2013


Thank you so much Ms. Ann for being there for us over the years! Lukas was even younger that that. ;-) You made me cry...


Happy tears, I hope! And wow, I've known him longer than I even remember -- kids grow so fast!

Aunt Angie (fr… on April 24, 2013


Wow! I am so proud of you Lukas for always being interested in books! That is such an amazing drawing too. And good job to my sister-in-law Marta for always enriching both of the boys lives with educational stimulus such a books and outdoor activities. She is a great mom!

Carol on April 30, 2013


Ann showed me this picture when she first got it from Lucas, and I was incredibly impressed with the detail and composition, the ideas at work and the wonderful creativity. Congrats to Lucas for being an artist of note SO early on in life.

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