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Early Childhood Intervention
Literacy for the young child


Early Childhood Intervention services support families as they learn how to help their children grow and learn. One way that we can all help young children to develop is by introducing books. Books are a great avenue that can help increase literacy for children of all ages, including birth to 3 years of age. Encouraging children to interact with books appropriately can give them valuable skills as they transition into the school system.

One may ask how adults can be effective in teaching language and literacy when working with children who have developmental delays. It’s easy! Adults can set up a small area just about anywhere and incorporate books, pillows, stuffed animals, and a few decorations. A writing center can also be set up in close proximity.

Children can develop several skills just from having an area designated for reading and writing. These skills can be brought to the school system when the child enters a structured classroom with other children.
The child will understand the importance of books. Initially, children may not know how to interact with books. They may put books in their mouths every time they are around them or put writing materials or paper in their mouths. But an adult can show a child how to use a book or writing materials.
For instance, when a 6-month-old puts a book into the mouth, the adult can redirect and say, “This is a book,” open it, and point to two or three pictures and say the names of each image at least two or three times. Every exposure like this will help the child start to correlate the book with learning. Eventually the child will open the book, point to a picture, and then try and say the name or at least utter vocalizations. After pointing to pictures in books, the adult can work with the child on drawing one picture from the book. Now, the child is learning skills and making an effort, even though the picture may not be drawn to scale. This is increasing language and literacy for the young child.
The young child will understand boundaries. Classroom settings have many boundaries that are intended for safety and conducive learning environments. When children are continually going to one area to gain access to books or to write, they begin to learn that if they want a book or want to write, they can just go to the designated area. This designation of space helps children to communicate effectively even if they cannot speak.

The parent or any adult working with the child can simply ask, “What would you like?” The child, if capable, can go to the area of choice. Of course, this interaction will take modeling. The adult will have to continually act out “I want a book” and then go to the book area, or “I want to write” and then go to the writing area. This will continue until the child starts to comprehend what is happening. If a child is not going to an area, the adult can take the child to each area and work on activities.

The following list includes examples of the types of books that are appropriate for each age range and developmental level.


Infants birth-6 months
Books with simple, large pictures or designs with bright colors.
Stiff cardboard, chunky books, or fold-out books that can be propped up in the crib.
Cloth and soft vinyl books with simple pictures of people or familiar objects that can go in the bath or get washed.


Infants 6-12 months
Board books with photos of other babies.
Brightly colored chunky board books to touch and taste.
Books with photos of familiar objects like balls and bottles.
Books with sturdy pages that can be propped up or spread out in the crib or on a blanket.
Plastic or vinyl books for bath time.
Washable cloth books to cuddle and mouth.
Small plastic photo albums of family and friends


Young toddlers 12-24 months
Sturdy board books that they can carry.
Books with photos of children doing familiar things like sleeping or playing.
Goodnight books for bedtime.
Books about saying hello and good-bye.
Books with only a few words on each page.
Books with simple rhymes or predictable text.
Animal books of all sizes and shapes.


Toddlers 2-3 years
Books that tell simple stories.
Simple rhyming books that children can memorize.
Bedtime books.
Books about counting, the alphabet, shapes, or sizes.
Animal books, vehicle books, and books about playtime.
Books about saying hello and good-bye.


Resources on children’s literacy development
Why early literacy matters,
Reading to children promotes brain development,
13 things babies learn when we read to them,
The importance of oral language,
Why we should all be reading aloud to children,