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Ready to Read:  Print Awareness
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 pointing right).

Print Awareness

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 purposes.

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:

bulletShow children that print is all around them. Point it out in signs, on menus, and in books and newspapers.
bulletOccasionally 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.
bulletPoint to some words as you say them, especially words that are repeated.
bulletLabel objects in your home or classroom.
bulletWhen reading to your child or groups of children, always let them know who the author and illustrator are and what they do.
bulletLet your child turn the pages. When you’re done reading, let him or her hold the book and tell you the story.
bulletTalk about and play with punctuation marks. Show them what an exclamation mark is and what a question mark is and why you read those sentences differently.
bulletEncourage children to play with print every day. Help them make lists, write notes, make signs, etc.
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