Learning to read begins before children start school. Young children need to develop important language and literacy skills before they can actually learn to read. Based on research about language, early literacy skills, and how children learn, Every Child Ready to Read® gives parents and other caregivers simple but powerful ways to help children develop the language and other skills they need to learn to read.

According to the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Public Library Association (PLA), the divisions of the American Library Association that developed Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library®, parents and other caregivers are in the best position to help young children learn these skills because:

  • Parents know their children best and can help them learn in ways and at times that are easiest for them.
  • Young children have short attention spans. Parents and caregivers can engage children in language and literacy activities for short bits of time throughout the day.
  • Parents are tremendous role models–children are more likely to want to read if they see that their parents value and enjoy reading.
  • Children learn best by doing—and they love doing things with their parents.

Parents can give children a tremendous advantage in school and in life by helping prepare them for reading success.

Dramatic Play

Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words.

To encourage play at the library, we added the dramatic play area in the storytelling room in January 2014. Since then, the play area has become a favorite destination for young, pint-sized visitors to the Library. The area features toys, colorful props, and books that serve as a magnet for the zero-to-five set and have one goal in mind -- building a foundation for learning to read.

The purpose of the area is to introduce young children to the six pre-literacy skills all through playing. The activities are self-guided so the children can play freely and use their imaginations. Parents will find some handouts that will help incorporate "Every Child Ready to Read" skills into play. The handouts are located above the cubbies in the Storytime Room. One handout gives ideas so you can structure play in the library. Other handouts cover the various themes and incorporating them into play.

Play is one of the ways children can learn all six early literacy skills: print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, and print motivation. A different theme is rotated into the area every few months which keeps the learning fresh and fun. Themes have included: kitchen, building/construction, and gardening. New themes are being developed.

Build a Better World

In conjunction with the 2017 summer reading program theme, “Build a Better World,” the library staff added a construction and building dramatic play theme. Staff purchased a variety of pretend tools and two workbenches. Two new carpets, as well as toy cars and construction equipment were purchased for the children’s area. We also developed an activity table with a variety of moveable parts attached. The area was made possible by a donation from the Friends of the Nederland Library.

Storytime Kitchen

In the Storytime Kitchen, you can dish up some ice cream, have a barbecue, or make some breakfast. You’ll find play food and cookware, as well as a "cookbook." These are just some of the fund props awaiting your pretend play. We’ve also have books in the collection that talk about food-related subjects, such as Dragons Love Tacos; Secret Pizza Party; Who Ate All the Cookie Dough; Rah, Rah, Radishes, and more.

There are two general handouts that talk about Early Literacy Skills in the Kitchen and activities for incorporating the "Every Child Ready to Read" practices and skills into cooking, baking, shopping, etc. For instance when cooking, read the recipe aloud, point out words and see if they can pick out familiar numbers or letters in the recipe. There are also topical sheets, such as BBQ’s & Picnics, Ice Cream Delights, etc. These are arranged by entries under the five literacy skill builders: talking, play-ing, singing, writing, and reading. Booklists, rhymes, activities, and conversation starters are included so you can incorpo-rate the ideas at home. The booklist provides a complete list of all titles mentioned in the individual handouts.

The Storytime Kitchen was made possible in part by a grant from the Foundation for Southeast Texas.


The garden-themed dramatic play area includes areas for children to “plant” fruits and vegetables, “water” and “prune” them, and even a color matching game using different colored fruits and vegetables your kids love to eat. Handout topics include: gardening, seeds, flowers, vegetables, from garden or farm to table, etc. The library's collection includes picture books, beginning readers, and board books covering the topic of gardening to help you introduce your child to the wonderful world of reading.

The Library owns two Early Literacy Station™ (ELS) produced by AWE. The stations are designed specifically for our youngest patrons ages 2-8 and features over 4,000 localized learning activities. The fun, interactive and engaging content spans all seven curricular areas: math, science & nature, social studies & geography, reading, art & music, writing & computer skills, and reference.

Studies show that the integration of blended learning into early childhood education can increase literacy, improve school readiness, and prepare young learners for curriculum that is based on STREAM and STEM. The Early Literacy Station™ from AWE Learning creates an easy-to-use, single learning solution for young learners of all ages to build their literacy skills.