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How to Develop Print Awareness

open book with stars

What Is Print Awareness?

A child who has print awareness understands that print represents words that have meaning and are related to spoken language.

Kids who have print awareness are able to do things like hold a book correctly and understand that books are read from front to back. They also realize that sentences are read from left to right.

Print awareness is one of five critical pre-reading skills. Without print awareness, children are unable to develop other literacy skills such as reading, spelling, and handwriting.

How Print Awareness Develops

Kids who are read to on a regular basis naturally pick up many of the skills by following the examples of the people around them.

A child’s print awareness develops when those close to him point out letters and words in text found in the child’s environment. It also develops through playing word games, when you turn the pages of a book, and when you run your finger under a line of text as you read.

Quick Check for Print Awareness

Here are five signs that indicate that your child has print awareness.

Print awareness blue check mark

Your child knows how to hold a book correctly. If you hand your child a book upside down, he will turn it right side up before looking through it.

Print awareness purple check mark

Your child understands that books are read from front to back and from left to right and knows how to turn the pages in the correct direction.

Print awareness green check mark

Your child pretends to write by scribbling or writing marks on paper. He understands that the “words” he is writing communicate meaning.

Print awareness blue check mark

Your child points to text and asks what it says. He has become curious about the meaning of the printed text he sees all around him.

Print awareness purple check mark

Your child picks up a familiar book and “reads” it aloud. He understands that the printed words are connected to the story.

5 Fun Ways to Develop Print Awareness

The best way to develop print awareness is through a variety of print-rich experiences. Here are five engaging activities to enjoy with your child.

Print awareness ABC graphic

Teach the Alphabet

Teach your child to recognize the letters of the alphabet through the activities in this blog post. You’ll find ABC Playdough Mats, ABC Bracelets, Tactile Letter Cards, and more.

Print awareness writing in a book

Tell a Story

Have your child tell you a story. If your child needs a prompt, wordless picture books are great for this! Write it down on paper for her to illustrate.

green sign for a child's room

Make a Sign

Help your child create signs for the doors in the house, such as “Welcome to Lexi’s room,” “Bathroom,” “Mom and Dad’s Room,” or “The Kitchen Is Open.”

envelop and letter

Read the Mail

When the mail is delivered each day, have your child help you sort it according to which family member’s name is on the label. If interesting cards, ads, or magazines arrive, read parts of them aloud.

mother reading to child

Read Aloud

Read lots of picture books aloud to your child. Read reviews of fantastic picture books to share together, or download our extensive list. As you read to your child:

  • Mention the parts of a book as you read. “Look at this cover! This book must be about elephants!” “The End…that’s the last page of the book.”
  • Have your child help you turn the pages.
  • Model that we read from left to right by occasionally running your finger under the text as you read.
  • Ask your child to point to the first word on the page.
  • Occasionally point out periods and exclamation points.

Print Awareness Is One of the Big Five Skills

Print awareness is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness that we call the “Big Five Skills.” The other four skills are:

If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.

All About Reading Pre-reading

Do you have any questions about print awareness? Post in the comments below!

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Kris

says:

Good Information!

Erica

says:

Great ideas 😊
Maybe my next one will let me teath her how to read. My first taught herself at 3 without me 😂

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erica,
Those little ones that are in such a hurry to learn sure do keep us on our toes!

BreAnn Chapin

says:

Great ideas and resources! Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, BreAnn!

Brittney Brooks

says:

Great ideas ! Thanks 😍

Heather Clark

says:

It’s so exciting watching young children get ready to read.

Tiffany Ninemire

says:

Looks like a fantastic product.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Tiffany!

Amy

says:

This is awesome. Thanks for all your hard work.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amy.

Eirynn

says:

Some great ideas!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Eirynn!

K.Polkamp

says:

This is such a great resource. It covers what is needed to develop life long readers!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you!

Betty Boiron

says:

I love the idea of creating signs for the rooms, I am going to do that tomorrow with my kids for their rooms!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Have fun, Betty. My kids loved making signs for their bedroom doors!

Amy Wisdom

says:

We love sitting down and reading books together. Read alouds are some of our favorites.

Tonya S

says:

We have implemented some of these, but good reminders to keep doing them! Thanks for sharing!

R G

says:

I am excited that I am already doing some of the things on this list. Now I Don’t feel so behind. Thanks guys.

Carmen Monteto

says:

This article is very informative–thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Carmen!

Angela C

says:

I love the sign idea and I never thought to say this is the cover of the book before great idea.

Betsy

says:

I love the ideas in your “5 Fun Ways to Develop Print Awareness”. I plan to also place signs on my grandson’s bed, the sink, a table, milk and other items found in my home.

Daniela Bolton

says:

Such a helpful articles. Given me such a different perspective of tackling this area!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad it’s helpful, Daniela!

Kori

says:

Love this!

Lisa

says:

Thank you for the ideas. It is so important to make the time to stop and teach in every day activities.

C. story

says:

The extra resources you provide are so helpful!

elysse

says:

great tips for helping a child

Jeniver

says:

Thanks for all the suggestions for parents to ensure their child develops these skills!

Nicole Dechert

says:

My daughter learned how to spell her brother’s name using the mail daily! I love it :)

Paula Eisenhauer

says:

This is a very informative article and will greatly help me with the toddlers in my life.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you found this helpful!

Laura Chandler

says:

My four year old loves to look at the pictures of the books and make up her own story.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love when little ones make up their own stories! It’s so cute, and sometimes even better than the printed story.

Sara

says:

I can’t get enough of these ideas!!! These books are magical!

Julie Levings

says:

These are great ideas! Excited to use AAR with my kids and learn more.

Charissa Reed

says:

I am working on this right now.

Farrah

says:

After several years of reading 30 minutes nightly, bedtime reading has become my kids’ favorite part of the day! My oldest is now a reading fanatic.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Reading aloud to children is a wonderful way to help them learn to love books, Farrah!

Joyce

says:

Interesting. I love the quick check and the simple fun ways to add into our day to day to develop this skill. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re very welcome, Joyce!

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