Ready to Read: Print
Here's a short video about print awareness,
including suggestions on how to share this important early literacy skill
with children. To view, click the PLAY button on the left (arrow
Print awareness is noticing that printed words are all around us.
It also involves knowing how to handle a book and how to follow words on a
page - from left-to-right, from top-to-bottom, from the front to the back
of a book.
It differs from other early literacy skills because it focuses on how
print is used instead of how to read letters, syllables, or words.
It starts when children realize that print has meaning - people don't just
look at pictures, they read text. As children start to develop print
awareness they learn that each word is separated by space - text
consists of smaller units, words.
This helps children understand that the print they see consists of
words - the same words we speak and hear. When children develop
print awareness, they are ready to see how words are all around us -
signs, labels, books, magazines, even in multi-media and TV. They
also see that family members read, using the print word for different
Children with print awareness understand that print has different
functions; for example, menus list food choices, a book tells a story, a
sign can show a favorite restaurant or warn of danger. Being
familiar with printed language helps children feel comfortable with books
and understand that print is useful.
To help develop print awareness:
Show children that print is all around them. Point it out in signs,
on menus, and in books and newspapers.
Occasionally run your finger along the bottom of words as you are
reading them. This helps children understand that print runs from left
to right and that you are reading text rather than looking at pictures.
Point to some words as you say them, especially words that are
Label objects in your home or classroom.
When reading to your child or groups of children, always let them
know who the author and illustrator are and what they do.
Let your child turn the pages. When you’re done reading, let him or
her hold the book and tell you the story.
Talk about and play with punctuation marks. Show them what an
exclamation mark is and what a question mark is and why you read those
Encourage children to play with print every day. Help them make
lists, write notes, make signs, etc.