Before a child can read and make meaning from a text, he needs to understand some basic concepts about books and print. The great thing about these concepts is that they can be integrated naturally as you read aloud to your child.
The book I chose to show in this post is Cat’s Colors by Jane Cabrera because I have the big book version, it has only a few words on each page and has lots of different kinds punctuation.
BOOK AWARENESS includes concepts such as front cover, back cover, title, author, and which way to turn the pages. Some easy ways to incorporate book awareness concepts into your read alouds are:
Start by placing a book upside down in front of your young child (big books work great, but any picture book will work) and pretend that you’re going to start reading it. See if he or she notices it’s upside down. If she doesn’t, say something like, “Oh my. This book is upside down. I need to turn it the right way before I can read it!”
From the front cover, simply point to the title and read it out loud. Do the same with the author and illustrator. You may just say, “The author wrote the words to the book and the illustrator drew all the pictures.”
Ask your child to help you turn the pages; making sure only one is turned at a time.
PRINT AWARENESS includes terms such as: word, letter, capital letter, punctuation, left-to-right orientation. Print awareness is a little more involved and takes more exposure before concepts are understood fully. Here are some ways to incorporate print awareness into your read alouds:
The basis of print awareness is understanding that the picture on the page and the words on the page are two separate things. Open up the book to a page. Point to and identify the picture on the page. Say something like, “This is the picture that the illustrator drew.” Then, point to the print. “These are the words. I read the words on the page when I read to you.”
Point to the words as you read, modeling that you start at the left and read going right. Instead of just using your finger, you can also use fun pointers.
When you get to the end of a line, make a big deal that “the words ran out”; but show how you move down to the next line; starting at the left again.
Point out the punctuation. A good starter is the exclamation mark because you can make such a big deal out of it. Read that sentence with some excitement! Let your child echo your expression.
Point to the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence. Use the term “capital”. See if she can find any more capital letters on the page.
Once your child knows her letter sounds, tracking the words comes easier as she can use the first letter of each word as a clue. Find a book with little text on each page and point to each word as you read it slowly. Then ask your child to point to the words as you read slowly. This is called tracking.
Here are a few additional resources for book & print awareness:
- Reading Rockets article
- Book and Print Awareness Checklist
- Teach Mama’s Print Referencing During Read Alouds
- Teaching Print Awareness through Online Stories
- Print Awareness for All Seasons activities (FREE Printables)
- Reading the Alphabet: My FREE PreK reading curriculum is full of activities to practice print awareness!
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