By Christopher Leitch
Community Relations Coordinator, Johnson County Library
Reading is a major public health issue. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, talking, singing, and reading to a child are essential for early brain development which is connected to better health outcomes later in life. Similar studies show that there is a connection between low literacy, poor health and children who struggle with reading in school. Challenges with literacy can often manifest themselves in physical and emotional problems, too.
Acquiring language is a basic human skill that kids start to develop as soon as they’re born. The Johnson County Library offers families and caregivers many early literacy resources to help their kids become comfortable and confident language learners.
6 by 6 Ready to Read
The Johnson County Library’s popular early literacy program, “6 by 6 Ready to Read,” turns 10 years old this fall. This program encourages parents to talk, read and sing songs with babies and children to help them understand and use language. “6 by 6” refers to the six pre-reading skills which kids should experience by age six.
Practice these six skills at home, in the car, on the bus, or any other time you’re spending time together.
1. Have Fun with Books: Kids who look at, touch and hold books develop tactile knowledge and will naturally want to learn to read. Tactile learners learn by touching and doing. They understand and remember things through physical movement.
- Look for Letters Everywhere: Children need to recognize letter shapes, differences and that they are related to sounds. This letter knowledge is a precursor to reading. Practice by singing the alphabet song and looking at the letters.
- Notice Print All Around You: Print awareness starts with helping kids notice that print on signs, boxes, labels and toys is meaningful and interesting.
- Take Time to Rhyme: Children love to play, and when they play with words and the smaller sounds in words, they are developing an early literacy skill called phonological awareness.
- Talk, Talk, Talk: Use lots of words with young children, even when they don’t understand. The more words children hear, the larger their vocabularies become.
- Tell Stories About Everything: The ability to describe things and events and to develop stories is referred to as narrative skill. Talk about your day and ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no.
The Johnson County Library offers “6 x 6” in each of its 14 early literacy spaces. The library boasts an expansive collection of kids books and hundreds of story times scheduled at the branches. All public programs at the Johnson County Libraries are provided free of charge.
For more information about “6 by 6” call the Johnson County Library, at 913-826-4600 and visit www.jocolibrary.org/6by6.