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ABC and Beyond™: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings

In your work with preschool children, you know how crucial strong literacy skills are for future academic success. You also know how important it is to support and encourage even the earliest signs of literacy – playing with a book, pointing to a sign or scribbling on a piece of paper – to ensure that young children have every possible opportunity to learn about literacy and to develop a love for it.

The ABC and Beyond guidebook brings to life the most current research on early childhood literacy and provides you with step-by-step, easy-to-use strategies to use in the classroom. In line with Hanen’s tradition of transforming research into accessible information and practical tools, this latest guidebook will teach you not just what children should learn, but exactly how to help them learn it.

Why Use ABC and Beyond™ if you’re a preschool teacher?

►Simple strategies that can be easily integrated into everyday activities

Implementing the strategies from ABC and Beyond doesn’t mean you’ll have to carve out new time in your day. In fact, what makes the strategies so powerful is that you can build them naturally into everyday conversations and literacy activities.

To build preschoolers’ vocabulary, for example, we’ve created a simple, flexible strategy that you can easily infuse into shared book reading and other daily activities with your students:

Shoot for the SSTaRS:








To view a sample page from the guidebook explaining this strategy, click on the link below:

►Clear explanations and examples of scenarios for implementing each strategy

The ABC and Beyond guidebook is filled with concrete examples of how to apply each strategy, so you’ll have no trouble knowing what to say and do.

Click on the link below for examples from the guidebook on how specific strategies may be implemented to help children build literacy skills:

►Colour photographs to illustrate how the strategies are applied

More than 120 colour photographs beautifully illustrate how the strategies are applied in real-life contexts. Seeing how other teachers have implemented the strategies in their particular classrooms will enhance your understanding and give you ideas for creative things to do in your own classroom.

Click on the link below to view sample pages from the guidebook with helpful photographs:


►Helpful checklists

To help bridge the gap between what’s in the guidebook and what you’re doing in the classroom, each chapter of the ABC and Beyond guidebook ends with a personal checklist. You’ll use these checklists to ensure that you’re doing all the right things to promote each of the six building blocks of literacy in your classroom.

Click on the link below to see the “building vocabulary” checklist from the guidebook.

►Assurance of an evidence-based approach

The strategies in the ABC and Beyond guidebook have been tested and proven effective in pilot programs of ABC and Beyond – The Hanen Program® for Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings.

The pilot programs clearly showed that the more educators used abstract or decontextualized language, letter names and references to sounds in words, the more the children did the same. This demonstrates that changes in educators’ literacy practices results in children gaining new and important literacy skills, which are considered to be fundamental to learning to read and write at school.

Click on the link below for a detailed research summary describing the supporting evidence for the ABC and Beyond Program and its strategies:

ABC and Beyond — In Action

Here’s an example of how one educator used ABC and Beyond in her classroom:

Marissa worked in a Head Start centre in an impoverished area of northern California. She was disappointed by the results of a study in her community showing that many children were arriving at kindergarten with poorly developed oral language and literacy skills and were consequently struggling to learn to read and write. Marissa had heard about ABC and Beyond and she decided to read it, hoping for ideas for how to better prepare her preschoolers for school. After reading the first few chapters, she began to think about literacy in a brand new way. She had traditionally included book reading in her program but focused on having the children sit and listen patiently while she finished reading the book.

She typically discouraged a lot of talking during book reading because she thought this would distract them from the story. But ABC and Beyond pointed out the value of turning book reading into a conversation to build literacy, and Marissa began to wonder if there was more to reading a book than just completing it. She became even more convinced that conversation may be the way to go after reading Chapter 3, which focused on vocabulary development. This chapter describes how to “make words sparkle” during book-related conversations to help children learn new words. That information really hit home when she read that children’s vocabulary development predicts literacy development – exactly the area they were trying to enhance in their community.

The next day, Marissa decided to use the “Shoot for the STAaRS” strategy to “make words sparkle” while reading The Three Little Pigs with her students. She involved the children in a discussion about their reaction to Goldilocks’ behavior in the story. They talked about how Goldilocks was “rude” when she entered the Bears’ house, ate their food, broke a chair and slept in their beds. They also talked about how Goldilocks had not been invited into the bears’ house, so that meant she was “trespassing”. Marissa was later pleasantly surprised to hear one of the children say another child was “rude” when he took someone else’s cracker at snack time. She also made a point of using the word “trespass’ in other book readings and, in time, the children used that word too when someone walked into the classroom without knocking! Speaking to a colleague later, Marissa described how exciting it was to see that the children had taken new words away from the book discussion, using them in different contexts.
She realized that learning to use a word accurately takes years and so she planned to continue to use the words “rude” and “trespass” in many contexts to help the children learn more specific and accurate meanings of these words.

What professionals are saying about ABC and Beyond™

“A very well-written, concise, user-friendly, and truly indispensable book for all who wish to build a solid research-based foundation for launching preschoolers into the world of literacy”.
- Anne van Kleeck, PhD, Professor and Callier Research Scholar, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

“... the book has taken many different complex, research-based approaches to helping young children build their emergent literacy skills, and has translated them into practical strategies that teachers will find very accessible and useful for all young children. Checklists provided at the end of each of the strategy chapters could be used as self-checks or by mentors or coaches. The book as a whole, as well as its individual chapters, could serve as a solid foundation for professional development for early childhood teachers”.
- Jeanette A. McCollum, Professor Emeritas, Infancy/Early Childhood Special Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Order ABC and Beyond today and promote the critical early literacy skills all children need to succeed in school.