Copy of Vehicles by Xavier Deneux

Our next book is called Vehicles by Xavier Deneux. It is part of the touch-think-learn series which is great for many ages from babies to preschoolers. That’s because it has touch-feel which is great for babies and toddlers. It also gives words to think about for each topic which is good for all ages. The kinds of words they use can build vocabulary for preschoolers too.

[Show train page.] Here is the page for train. You can see the railroad track is curvy. It look like a backwards S. And on the opposite page the train and all the cars are in a curvy S shape. As we look at the picture we can talk about some of the words noted here, like locomotive, tracks, caboose, passenger car, curve, windows, roof, chugging, and rolling. And we can add our own words too, like the sound the train makes or who works on the train.

Early Literacy Tip—Example—Letter Knowledge: When we point out letters and let children trace letters, we help them recognize letters which will later help them read.


Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora


I just love this book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. Omu means “queen” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria, a country in Africa. It is what the author, Oge Mora, called her grandma. Let’s say Omu together. What do you call your grandmother?

[There are lots of aspects of this book that can be discussed and build on to support various aspects of early literacy. Here are a few.]

Background knowledge—book and story knowledge: Let’s look at the cover of this book. What do you see? What do you think this book might be about? Choose a repeated phrase to have the children join in with. Have children retell the story in order, using a flannel board or props.

Background knowledge—content knowledge: How do you think the author made the picture? It is called collage, cutting out shapes from paper and painting them or coloring them with marker. Have children make a collage.

Print Awareness: Point out the word Knock! and Thank you, Omu or any of the text written in caps. Point out word in the pictures such as TAXI, Open. Note that Omu is reading a book. The writing of a thank you card.

Phonological Awareness: make the sound of knocking, and point it out.

Letter Knowledge: Point out shapes such as the star on the police officer’s shirt, other shapes in the collages. Spell out Omu as you point to the letters. Letters spelling Thank you Omu on the last page.

Vocabulary: so many words that mean delicious—tasty, scrumptious, delectable. Say repeated phrase together “scrumptious scent wafted out the window”—talk about what the phrase means.

City Shapes by Diana Murray


Introduction: Let's look at the cover of our next book, City Shapes by Diana Murray. It is illustrated by Bryan Collier. What do you see on the cover? [Note some different shapes, also kaleidoscope. Describe one, show one if possible. Open to end papers--what do they see, what does it look like?] 
Read the book, pointing out and asking children to point out some of the shapes.
Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Did you know--recognizing shapes is a first step to recognizing and writing letters, because researchers have found that children actually identify letters by their shapes. And this book has so many possibilities for recognizing shapes, from toddlers to school-age children.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower:  When we talk about shapes all around us, throughout the day, we help our children become more aware of shapes which will support their letter knowledge.
Writing Activity: Have children draw a picture of whatever they like, can be related to the book.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, as your children are drawing and talking about their picture, talk with them about the shapes they see in the picture. Helping them be aware of shapes will also them identify and write letters.

My House by Byron Barton

Introduction: Our next book is a very brightly colored one with clear pictures, which makes it easier for babies to focus on the pictures. It's called My House by Byron Barton. As I read this book, I will also point out and name some of the shapes in the pictures.


Read the book. [Talk about shapes on a page or two. For example on the page "This is the inside of my house,"] Look at Jim the cat's eyes. What shape are they? Yes, circles. And here you can see the colors of the rug. Each color is an oval. It is curved like a circle, but is longer.

Early Literacy Aside--Example (after reading book): When we talk about shapes with children we help them recognize shapes. Researchers have noted that children recognize letters by their shapes, so learning shapes is a first step to letter knowledge, which they need to decode words when they learn to read.

Early Learning Aside for Math: When we talk about shapes with children, we are helping them develop their geometry skills which is one of the math concepts needed to do well in math.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, you can talk about shapes all around you throughout the day, even without a book. Many children love to notice shapes and point them out to you. Isn't it great knowing that such a fun activity is also helping them to later recognize their letters!

B I N G O (Bingo) Song

BINGO SongHere is a way to do the BINGO song so that we are saying all the letters at the end. "X" means to clap. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name oh, B-X-X-X-X, B-X-X-X-X, B-X-X-X-X And Bingo was his name, oh. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name oh, B-i-X-X-X, B-i-X-X-X, B-i-X-X-X And Bingo was his name, oh. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name oh, B-i-n-X-X, B-i-n-X-X, B-i-n-X-X And Bingo was his name, oh. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name oh, B-i-n-g-X, B-i-n-g-X, B-i-n-g-X And Bingo was his name, oh. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name oh, B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o And Bingo was his name, oh. We all spelled Bingo's name. You know all these letters!  B   i   n    g   o  (point slowly to each one) Early Literacy Aside--Example: Singing letters of the alphabet is one enjoyable way for children to learn letters. You can spell out other words using the same tune. Having children become familiar with letter names and identifying letters will later help them as they try to recognize words.

Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski

Book Introduction: Our next book is one of my favorite books called Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski. There are three chickens and each of the chickens here is holding one of the letters for the word "big". Here is a B and an Iand a G. Read the book. Early Literacy Aside--Example: From time to time it is fun to point out letters as I did with the word BIG. You don't need an alphabet book to talk about letters. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Did you know that when your child plays with shapes or blocks and you talk about the shapes you are preparing them to learn to recognize letters!

Submitted by Diane Christensen, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

Shapes Around Us by Daniel Nunn

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Children learn to recognize letters by their shapes. Today I'll be pointing out some ways you can support letter knowledge by talking about shapes. During the storytime read Shapes Around Us by Daniel Nunn. Early Literacy Aside--Example: This book helps us think of so many shapes we see in the world around us. What a great way to help children notice shapes which later helps them recognize letters! Early Litearcy Aside--Empower: Pointing out and playing with shapes helps children to recognize and draw letters. Be sure to include both the upper cas and lower case versions of letters.

Freight Train with flannel board

Preparation: Use the attached pattern to cut out large flannel board pieces. You can make the pictures smaller to cut out pieces that you will hand out to the storytime participants. Activity: We have just read the book Freight Train by Donald Crews. Now let's play a matching game on the flannel board. Here is the whole train. [Put up the cars of the train and name them. Describe their color, shape, etc. Pass out one car to each of the storytime participants. Remove your whole train. Put up one car and describe it.] I have put up the cattle car. It is green and looks like a rectangle. It has two lines in the middle that cross each other. They look like an X. Several of you have a green cattle car. If you do, come up and make your match on the flannel board. Good job! [Continue with other cars.]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: When we play matching games with children, we help them notice characteristics of objects, what is similar and different. This type of thinking will later help them notice differences and similarities in letters as they learn to identify letters and learn to read.
Flannel board pattern: freighttrainFB
small cars can be used for individual handout

Pop Goes Pre-Reading

Song for Explain Early Literacy Aside:To the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel
Our early literacy skill today
is letter knowledge [fill in the name of the skill].
Getting to know lots of shapes [Substitute aspect of skill being highlighted]
will HELP children read.

Add information related to skill: Researchers have found that children recognize letters according to their shapes.  Talking with young children about shapes is one way to support emerging literacy skills.

Some examples for other skills, to fill in:
Skill=vocabulary: Explaining unfamiliar words . . .
Information on skill: Researchers have found that children who have larger vocabularies, who know more words, can more easily recognize words they sound out and can also more easily understand what they read when whey learn to read.
Skill=print motivation . . . Having fun while sharing books
Information on skill: Researchers have found that children who have enjoyable interactions around books and reading are more likely to stick with learning to read even when it is difficult.
Skill=phonological awareness . . . Clapping out the parts of words . . . OR Having fun with rhyming words . . .
Information on skill: Helping children hear the smaller sounds in words will help them later to sound out words when they begin to read.
Skill=print awareness  . . . Pointing to signs all around . . . OR Pointing to words in a book Information on skill: Understanding that the written word stands for the words helps children understand how reading works.
Skill=background knowledge . . . Reading information books . . . OR Telling your children what you know . . .
Information on skill: Children are naturally curious. By adding to the information they know on topics that interest them, they will later be able to better understand what they read. Skill=background knowledge . . . Having children retell stories . . .
Information on skill: When children retell stories they learn how stories work, that the have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This will help them later when they have to write stories in school.

Choose only one skill to highlight (to say the aside).

ABC Look at Me by Roberta Intrater

Early Literacy Aside: Explain Aside: Noticing that the same letter can look different, like upper and lower case, is a beginning step for letter knowledge, one of the early literacy skills that children need to be able to learn to read. 
Early Literacy Aside--Example Aside: One way we can help children learn what the letters look like and the letter names is by sharing alphabet books. When sharing alphabet books with children, we tend to focus more on the print than with any other type of book. Let’s share an alphabet book together.
Share the book ABC Look at Me by Roberta Intrater.  Did you notice that when I read the book, I pointed to the letter? As we read alphabet books, we tend to point out the letter on the page as we say its name. This does not come so naturally while reading other kinds of books. As you talk about the letter you can point out that the same letter can look different. For example, here’s the letter R. It can look like R or r.
Empower Aside: When you read alphabet books, don’t worry if your child does not recognize the letters and the different ways they look. You are just introducing the idea that the same letter can look different. Alphabet books do not need to be read from A to Z. You can give the book to your child and let them choose a page that looks interesting. Then talk about the picture and the letter. As your child grows, keep pointing out and talking about letters. Let your child see your interest in them and they will follow your lead in learning them.

Goodnight Max by Rosemary Wells

Introduction: Let's look at the cover of this book Goodnight Max by Rosemary Wells. What shapes do you see? Yes, the blanket has colored squares, the moon is a crescent shape; Max's nose looks like a triangle.
Read the book.
Early Literacy Aside--Example Aside: You don't need a book about shapes to talk about shapes. Talking about shapes with your child as we did at the beginning of this book, is the beginning of being able to recognize letters. Children begin to recognize letters by their shapes.

Shapes Flannel Board and Matching Game

Preparation for Presenter: Using cutouts of different shapes (see attachment below) make shapes you can use on the flannel board. If you want to play the matching game in addition to talking about shapes, make more than one of each shape.
Introduction: Today we talked about shapes and alike and different. So let’s see what shapes you see up here. Depending on the size, age-level and attention span of the group, you can put the shapes up yourself or hand them out to the toddlers and have them put the shapes up on the flannel board. Say the name of the shape as well as some additional description. For example, "Here is a circle, a small blue circle.” Have the children repeat the name of the shape and/or the description.]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Helping your child notice and talk about shapes later helps them identify letters. When you think of an upper case A, there is a triangle shape in it. For Matching Game: You keep one copy of each shape and pass out the additional copies of the shapes. Put up one shape, say what it is and describe it. Then have those children who have the same shape come up to the flannel board to add theirs to yours. Don't forget to clap for each person. Adults are welcome to help their children.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Playing matching games helps your child notice what is alike and different. This is one part of developing letter knowledge.
Matching Game Variation: You can make the matching more challenging by making patterns on your shapes. For example, you may color a couple of circles on a square, or make a design on two copies of the same shape. You can make the matching more or less challenging by how intricate or obvious the differences are. Use the handout of shapes for parents and children to cut out and play with at home. Early Literacy Aside for Shape Handout--Empower: This handout has several shapes you can cut out at home. You can use them as patterns and cut them out of different color paper. You can draw on them to make different patterns to match as well. You might ask your toddler to put all the circles together, all the ones with straight lines, all the ones with the same color. Sorting is one way of noticing what is alike and different. When children try to recognize letters they will need this skill. Think of a lower case h and a lower case n. They look similar but they are also different.

Shapes for Flannel Board

Shapes for Parent Handout

My First ABC Board Book (DK)

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Sharing alphabet books is one way to introduce children to letters. This book My First ABC Board Book has bright, clear photographs of things that interest young children.
Share a page or two: For example, on the B page, we see a baby, bananas, a ball, and bread. We see both the upper and lower case letter so children see that the same letter can look different. You can give the book to your child and let him choose a page to talk about. Talk about the pictures and point out the letter.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Naming the letters and pointing to them is a first step to developing your child's letter knowledge, one of the six early literacy skills. You can do this with books and also with signs whenever you are out and about. Remember to keep it enjoyable and stop when your child has had enough. No need to quiz your child on the letters, just expose them to the letters.

Alphabet Song

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Singing the alphabet song is one way to introduce children to letters. Part of letter knowledge, one of the early literacy skills that helps children be ready to read in school, is knowing the names of letters. At first your child may not relate the letters they sing to the written letter. That's ok; this is a first step.The alphabet song is to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
Sing Alphabet Song. Now let's sing it again to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb. The letters come out in a different rhythm. They are less likely to lump l m n o together. Sing Alphabet Song again to new tune.

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: The beginning of letter knowledge, one of the six early literacy skills, is seeing and recognizing shapes. Researchers have found that children learn to recognize letters by their shapes. I'll be pointing out some ways that you can use books to talk about shapes.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Our next book is Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert. It is really fascinating how you can see the animals just using basic shapes. What animals do you see? Sharing books with stark shapes like this is a first step to recognizing letters later. Read the book. Talk about the shapes as well as the animals. The back of the book are the separate shapes which you can also point out or refer to from time to time as you read the book.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: This is quite a sophisticated book and can be used in many ways with very young children and also as your children get older. Start with simply noticing shapes and bright colors and your older children can make animals from shapes themselves.

Dog's Day by Jane Cabrera

Read Dog's Day. As you point to the title also point out the letter D in Dog and Day.Early Literacy Aside--Example: Help your children find letters based on the subjects they like. D is the first letter in dog. If your child is interest in trucks, you can point out the letter t. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Remember that letters are everywhere! Have your child make letters with their fingers, whole body,  or playdough.

Submitted by Emily Leachman, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)

Shape Bee

Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Before children learn letters, they learn shapes. Let them play with shapes to develop later letter knowledge. Flannel Board: Do Shape Bee on flannel board. See attachment for pattern Shape Bee pattern Craft Activity: You can use the pattern as a basis to have the children make their own Shape Bee. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Wherever you go today, look for the letter B, on signs, in books, on products. Then you can do the same with other letters throughout the week.

Submitted by Erin Nguyen, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)

Candlewick Press Storytime Plan

Storytime Plan includes these books with suggested activities and relation to the early literacy skills.Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpiller by Clare Jarrett On the Farm by David Elliott A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Tweedle Dee Dee by Charlotte Voake [Some activities are more for school-age children.] readtousstoryhourkit.pdf