280

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!

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Deon Williams

says:

I find your post to be very informative and easy to understand

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Deon!

Sserunkuuma Charles

says:

I have been a Junior literacy teacher trainer here in Uganda, but the more research I carry out ,the more I the more perfect I have become, Please,Thanks so much, for this wonderful work

Katie B.

says:

My child is at the print awareness stage, and this gives so many fun ideas for helping her get ready to read. I will have to check out the related posts as well.

Charlotte McManus

says:

Thanks!

Stephanie

says:

My child is just starting to notice letters and numbers so this gives me a “spring board” for ideas to teach him in preschool. Thanks so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Stephanie. We have lots of other blog posts and downloads for preschool learning that you might want to check out too! Preschool Blog Posts

Tulisha

says:

Thank you for this blog. Thanks for the clear explanations you give (like explaining how what print awareness is) and the practical tips to practice at home!

Jennifer

says:

Never heard of this term before. Good info!

Rebecca

says:

Thank you, this information is very useful

Amber

says:

We’ve been working on print awareness lately. My son loves to “write” letters and send cards to family and mail them. It’s wonderful watching them learn by doing.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amber,
Sending cards and letters to family is such a sweet and lovely way to build print awareness! What a wonderful idea.

Thank you for this! Definitely needed to read it!

Cathy

says:

Good information! Working on some of these already!

Kavita

says:

What is more appropriate for the child to learn first- upper case alphabet or lowercase alphabet?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kavita,
Great question! Children learn upper case letters more easily because there is less confusion with upper case. A child is unlikely to mistake a B for a D, but mistaking b and d is very common. We have a blog post on How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers that I think you will find helpful, plus it has a number of free games and activities to help make the learning fun.

Does this answer your question? Let me know if I can help further.

Sydney Maglosky

says:

I always use my finger and follow the words as we read.

Holly Sills

says:

My child loves story telling which fosters print awareness as supported by this article. He first fell in love with a story being told to him and now likes telling his own stories. He is learning to use his imagination and learning to add descriptive details to his stories. We also label things in our school area and around the house which prompts print awareness. He has started to read different words he sees on signs and stores when we are in town or traveling. These are some very good suggestions for print awareness.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Holly,
I enjoyed reading how storytelling is helping your child develop print awareness! Thank you for sharing this.

Brooke

says:

I make sure to use my finger to point to the words as we read aloud as reinforcement for print awareness.

Lisa

says:

Thanks for the great ideas!

Sharon

says:

My son is very mechanical oriented so noticing the on off on light switches is how he started print awareness.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
What an interesting thing for him to notice!

Gwen

says:

I teach print awarenees during reading workshop. I have found this practice makes the children appreciate reading, being a book lover, and learning more.

Sara L

says:

This is just what I needed to read! Thank you for all of your helpful posts about the process of learning to read!

Teresa Rollins

says:

So very Helpful! I am a grandmother having to homeschool grandkids who are 3rd,4th,5th,6th grade. Have used your Free resources nd found them very helpful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Teresa,
I love hearing that our resources on our blog are helpful to so many parents, grandparents, teachers, and tutors!

Chris Clark

says:

Great ideas!

James Greene

says:

Very interesting tips!

Katie B

says:

I’ve got an almost 4 year old who wants to “read big books” like her big brother. The printable was helpful for ideas to help support her in starting to do this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katie,
I love that this blog post will help you help your 4-year-old meet her desire to “read big books”! What a great desire to have!

Janelle

says:

Really loved the free printables! This really helped narrow down where my child is in his reading process.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Janelle,
I’m pleased this has helped you narrow down where your child is at!

Let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Yolanda W

says:

We are almost to the finish line with level 1. We have Level 2 so winning level 3 would be awesome! It’s been perfect for my boy.

Liz O

says:

Great tips for littles getting ready to read!

Jordan

says:

We are excited to start our journey with AAR and AAS!

Jeannette

says:

His is great information for gauging where my 3 yr old is at. Baby steps on his way to learning to read!

Lindsay

says:

Good tips! Love AAR!

Alyce ten haaf

says:

Thankyou. It helps to know what to look for, especially since all kids develop these skills at different ages!

Leave a Comment