Early Literacy: More than Just Books!
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!
- Create with Maisy by Lucy Cousins
- Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book by Ed Emberley
- Fun with My 5 Senses: Activities to Build Learning Readiness by Sarah Williamson
- Scribble Art: Independent Creative Art Experiences for Children by MaryAnn F. Kohl
- The Unplugged Play Book: The Essential Parents' Guide by Bobbi Conner