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The Hanen Book Nook

Welcome to the Hanen Book Nook! We're excited to share some of our favourite children’s books and talk about ways you can use them with young children to promote their emergent literacy skills. Every month, we take a fun children’s book off our shelf and talk about some simple ways you can use it to build the critical foundations of learning to read and write.

We hope you enjoy it!

This Month's Featured Topic:

Building Early Vocabulary with From Head to Toe

By Eric Carle

What are emergent literacy skills?

Emergent literacy skills refer to everything children need to know before they can learn to be successful readers and writers. Studies have shown that children who start school with higher levels of these skills have greater academic success.

Emergent literacy skills include:

  • Vocabulary – How many words a child understands is one of the most important factors in learning to read. The more words a child knows, the easier it is for her to learn new words and to gain meaning from the stories she reads.
  • Story comprehension – Experience listening to and understanding stories will eventually make it easier for a child to read and write stories on her own.
  • Print knowledge – Before a child can read and write, she must understand how print works. For example, she’ll need to know that print is made up of letters of the alphabet, that letters combine to make words and that print is read from left to right.
  • Sound awareness – To be prepared to read, children must understand that words can be broken down into syllables and smaller sounds, and that letters correspond to certain sounds.

Many emergent literacy skills can be picked up during book reading, but the way you share books with children can make a big difference to how much they learn about literacy. I’ll be sharing helpful tips and strategies for how you can tweak the way you share books with children so that you can best support their early literacy development.

Reading with, not to, your child

To make sure your child is getting the most out of book reading, it has to be an enjoyable activity, where he or she is actively engaged. Rather than reading the book from start to finish while the child sits and listens, saying very little, reading with your child means turning book reading into a conversation.

To read with your child, pause during the reading to ask questions and make comments. This will give your child the opportunity to answer questions and share his or her own thoughts and feelings on what’s happening in the story.

As a child engages in a conversation, she can draw on her knowledge and experience to make new connections, form new knowledge and build language skills. The better her conversational skills now, the easier it will be for her to understand what she reads later on.

For tips on making book reading interactive for young children, see “Creating Conversation with Good Night, Gorilla”.

Creating Conversation

Chosen Book:

Good Night, Gorilla
by Peggy Rathmann

Where the ideas come from

The tips and strategies we share in the Book Nook are from two guidebooks on emergent literacy – ABC and Beyond (for educators) and I’m Ready! (for parents). These guidebooks are based on the most current research in emergent literacy and offer practical interaction strategies for nurturing emergent literacy skills during book reading and other daily conversations and activities.

Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Many of my entries in the Book Nook involve reading the book more than once. This is because practice makes progress! The more you read a book, the deeper you can delve into its meaning. Furthermore, children learn through repetition and usually enjoy reviewing books they already know. Try reading the same book 3-5 times over the span of a week or two.

How we hope you’ll benefit from the Book Nook

There are so many books to choose from, and many possible emergent literacy skills to focus on. Where do we start? Sometimes the amount of choice can be overwhelming. By providing concrete examples of how we use some of our favourite books to support emergent literacy, we hope to inspire you to do the same, whether you are reading with children in a classroom or at your kitchen table!

Past topics

Problem-solving with The Very Cranky Bear

Turning Book Reading into a Conversation Look!

Explaining why things happen Lost and Found

Building Sound Awareness with Llama, Llama, Mad at Mama

Understanding Story Structure with The Three Little Pigs

Relating to Your Child’s Experiences with Franklin’s New Friend

Build Your Child’s Print Knowledge with There’s a Monster at the End of This Book

Building Early Vocabulary with Where’s Spot?

Building Sound Awareness with Jillian Jiggs

Building Story Comprehension with Ish

Building Perspective-taking Skills in Children with Autism with A Birthday for Cow

Building Problem Solving Skills with The Day the Crayons Quit

Building Print Knowledge with Over-Scheduled Andrew

Building Vocabulary with Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly

Building Sound Awareness with Little Blue Truck

Books for Kids Who Don’t Like Books

Predicting with This Is Not My Hat

Chosen Book:
This Is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen

Putting it All Together

Chosen Book:
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Kevin Henkes

Helping your child understand why
things happen with The Gruffalo

Chosen Book:
The Gruffalo
Julia Donaldson

Building Letter-Sound Awareness

Chosen Book:
Happy Baby
Sarah Kappely

Building Early Vocabulary

Chosen Book:
Dear Zoo
Rod Campbell

Building your child's print knowledge

Chosen Book:
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Mara Alperin

Relating Franklin Has a Sleepover to Your Child's Experiences

Chosen Book:
Franklin Has a Sleepover
by Paulette Bourgeois

Developing Story Comprehension

Chosen Book:
Just a Mess
by Mercer Mayer

Building Sound Awareness

Chosen Book:
Room on the Broom
by Julia Donaldson

Building Vocabulary

Chosen Book:
Giraffes Can’t Dance
by Giles Andreae

Creating Conversation

Chosen Book:
Good Night, Gorilla
by Peggy Rathmann

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