Keeping an Eye on Early Literacy

 Lisa Bintrim, Childrens Librarian, Canton Branch

When we talk about early literacy learning, we often focus on the cognitive processes—firing neurons and strengthening synapses to build the pathways through the brain that allow language development. But literacy also requires physical skills, including eye strength and coordination. 

Much like other physical skills such as sitting up, standing, and walking, which become automatic over time, infants and toddlers have to learn how to focus their eyes, coordinate them to work together, and use them to track objects across space, all of which are necessary for reading and writing. By talking, singing, reading, and playing together, you can help your child develop the physical skills they need for literacy.

Talk:

  • Talk (or sing) to your infant as you move around the room. The sound of your voice will encourage them to follow you with their eyes.
  • Point to or touch things as you talk about them. You can also gently guide your child’s hand to point to an object. 
  • Follow your child’s gaze and talk about whatever they are looking at.

Sing:

  • Sing songs with finger or arm movements, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” Encourage toddlers to begin making the movements themselves.
  • Use scarves, rattles, or other props while singing to help focus your child’s attention and encourage visual tracking.

Read:

  • Choose books that have just a few words on each page, simple illustrations, and lots of white space. 
  • Point to words and objects on the page as you read together. 
  • Repeat the same books. Familiarity with the words and pictures will allow your child’s brain to relax, freeing up energy to build focus skills.

Play:

  • Play peek-a-boo or simple hide-and-seek games (e.g., putting a toy in a closed hand or behind your back). These games not only encourage visual tracking but also help develop object permanence. 
  • Blow bubbles; encourage your child to reach out and pop the bubbles. 
  • With older infants and toddlers, roll a ball back and forth to encourage visual tracking and hand–eye coordination.

Sources 

Stellar Reads, Part 14: Even More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

The summer is almost done! Here’s what participants in the Adult Summer Challenge have enjoyed reading this month.


Joy B. on In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero:

This book is for anyone who wants to understand the plight of an undocumented worker in America and how it can affect families and children. This book and Diane’s story took me on an emotional journey that is worth taking.

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Megan M. on Expecting Better by Emily Oster:

Interesting read with lots of useful information about the current research on pregnancy versus the “common sense” suggestions often given.

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Alex on Fear of Flying by Erica Jong:

This book is a feminist blowtorch. Writing in the 1970s, this author is so relevant on subjects like motherhood, female pleasure, the purpose of marriage, and self-satisfaction. A real tour de force that rings true in 2019.

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Heather T. on The Huntress by Kate Quinn:

As a longtime reader of historical fiction, this story brings to life women of war in a way that I have not yet seen. Although I have my favorite character, I am excited to read each player’s part in the story. I cannot use the word “heroine” to describe some of the characters as I feel it denotes something less than what they are…. The characters may be fictional;  however, Quinn’s approach keeps the storyline true to history and invigorates the reader to seek more information about those events. Awesome book.

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Scott D. on Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout:

This moving novel of short stories perfectly captures the emotions and interconnectedness of everyday life. Strout writes with beauty capturing the joys and sadnesses of the simple unremarkable moments that make up life. A wonderful book, where each story keeps you guessing at the connection to the other stories. A joy to read.

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Naomi H. on Total Jazz by Blutch:

Before reading this book I wouldn’t have thought a form of music could be portrayed through images and text. Intrigued? I hope so. This is an absorbing presentation of jazz musicians and its history.

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Laura S. on Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver:

An interesting story that tracks people living in the same house over 100 or so years. In Barbara Kingsolver style, great characters and story.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 13: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

Read anything great this summer? Our Adult Summer Challenge participants did!


Elizabeth S. on How To Let God Solve Your Problems by Charles F. Stanley:

Much like his popular TV show this book feels like a warm hug from a dear friend. Chock-full of homespun wisdom as well as key Bible verses, it packs an inspirational punch. Perfect for anyone going through a “storm.”

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Kate G. on Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao:

Beautifully written. I’m very glad I found and read it.

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Naomi C. on The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth:

Gosh, where to begin… this book intrigued me from the beginning! It’s all about the story of a close-knit neighborhood street with different families dealing with all sorts of complicated issues relating to their marriage, children and identities. Each chapter ended in a mini-cliffhanger and was told in a different character’s perspective. I couldn’t read it fast enough!

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George H. on Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón:

This book changed my perception of what poetry is capable of—I am transformed!

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Jessica R. on Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle:

Amazing read and such inspiring stories. I saw Father Greg Boyle speak and the passion he carries is beyond amazing.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 12: What Adult Summer Challenge Participants are Reading

Here’s a look at what books our Adult Summer Challenge participants are enjoying. Make sure to add these titles to your summer reading list!


Valerie S. on ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King:

While eagerly waiting for this fall’s It movie sequel, I’m getting my horror fix by reading some of Stephen King’s fiction. ‘Salem’s Lot (1975) probably launched our culture’s current fixation with vampire culture and the walking dead. The Pratt Library has a fabulous re-issued edition (2005) in hardback, with very satisfying new material such as spooky black-and-white photos, a “prequel” chapter taking place in 1850, text and dialogue that had been omitted from the 1975 edition, and more. Thrilling more than downright scary, ‘Salem’s Lot still has many page-turning moments. Even though most readers will know what happens, the deeply described action, settings, and character depictions add depth and surprises. King is a pretty darn good writer. He evokes 1970s small-town New England life perfectly, as only one with a love-hate relationship with it can do. P.S. for geeks: The apostrophe at the beginning of the title is correct, shortening Jerusalem.

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Rachael C. on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:

To be an adult and get sucked into a book in that childhood way—it kept me up late reading! This is a fun book—clever, engaging, and a perfect bit of fun for a summer read.

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Philip J. on Tunnel People by Teun Voeten: Twenty-three years old but still relevant. Could easily be any metropolis in America today.


Nadine G. on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah:

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Just loved the book and how his life unwrapped before me. I laughed more than I cried but just loved it.

Amanda J. on Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly:

Good story about two strong female characters that takes place around WWI. One of the characters is based on an actual person. I enjoyed a glimpse into this era.

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Lauren R. on Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger:

This urban fantasy spells fun. The setting, character range, and genre bending are refreshing. The storytelling is exciting and modern. And even the format is unique, with pages of the Devil’s Water Dictionary punctuating the chapters, and acknowledgements that vie for a comedy award. I think it’s become clear that Quirk Books is a good publisher for me.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 11: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

Adult Summer Challenge participants gave these titles a thumbs-up. How many of them have you read?


Hemp H. on Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime by J. California Cooper:

A collection of short stories that range from the 1940s to 1980s tells the tales of how people can get lost in themselves, others, and longing. You will be sure to see some of your own mistakes looking back at you as you read this book that is as familiar as sun-sweetened lemonade on a summer’s day.

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Laura M. on Shadow Of Night by Deborah Harkness:

This book isn’t your typical vampire witch love story. There’s a healthy dose of Elizabethan-England history with a mix of science. Diana is a very strong female lead, a college historian with interest in Alchemy and learning to practice her magical talents. Fun read!

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Eliza C. on The Reckoning by John Grisham:

This book was a surprise. If you like history, then you will enjoy the lessons. They are multiple. Some involve living in the south, being a POW, being a survivor, and how the unknown over time can impact your life and the decisions you make because of it.

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Kayla D. on The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller:

An extremely well-written retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus. Miller’s poetic writing style transports readers into a completely different world and inspires readers with her heartbreaking retelling of the Greek myth.

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Nancy G. on Mindful of Race by Ruth King:

The kind of guidance we need to really have a discussion about race, regardless of one’s roots.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.