Supporting Emergent Literacy


Did you know that before your child can even pick up a book they are already practicing emergent literacy skills? Read on to learn how to support your child as they begin to explore reading!

What is emergent literacy?

Emergent literacy skills are foundational language based skills that support future literacy, academic success, and social communication. Emergent literacy is a stage of development beginning at birth in which children explore and learn skills that lead them to reading and writing in the future (Roth et al., 2006). This is vital for early language and literacy development and can be supported daily! 

What can I do to support these skills? 

  1. An easy way to support emergent literacy is by using the written language in your environment. Things such as signs, common logos, and familiar labels may be some of your child’s first exposures to reading. A simple trip to the grocery store can expose children to so much written language and vocabulary. Look around the next time you go to the store or commute home to all the literacy that surrounds you! You can practice these emerging skills daily through interacting by bringing attention to the print. It may be helpful to use words such as, “spell, read, words, and letters” when talking about print concepts (Hanen Early Language Program, 2011). These experiences can be thought of as your child’s “first steps” into reading. 


  1. Shared reading is another great way to engage your child and explore literacy. Even though they are not yet able to read the print, you can begin to introduce them to the process of reading. Pointing out concepts such as holding a book, the front and the back of the book, and reading left to right all help support print awareness. As you read, you can bring attention to the symbols, pictures, and words on each page so they can start to understand that the marks on the page have meaning (Williams, 2021). Incorporating these tips while reading aloud are all ways to strengthen emergent readers and their love for books! Overall, this helps them to increase literacy, language, imagination, joint attention, and independence. 


  1. Phonological awareness skills are a very important component to developing emergent literacy skills. You can practice rhyming, initial/final sound identification, counting syllables, and phoneme blending and segmentation (Williams, 2021).The manipulation and understanding of sounds in words is a foundational skill for early readers and can be targeted during story time and throughout other play-based activities. Some ideas include clapping or jumping together to count syllables in words as you read them or making an art project by coloring dots for each sound. Get creative and have fun with bringing awareness to the sounds in words! 

The list for supporting your child’s emergent literacy skills is endless. You can use just about anything to practice literacy skills, giving them the tools they need to expand their literacy and language skills!


Questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s emergent literacy skills please contact us at or 773-332-9439.


Megan Rabenberg, BS 

Graduate Student Clinician in Speech-Language Pathology 


References: Hanen Early Language Program. (2011). The Efficacy Study on ABC and Beyond – The Hanen Centre’s Newest Program.

Roth, F. et al. (2006). Emergent Literacy: Early Reading and Writing Development. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Williams, S. (2021). Developing Language – Emergent Literacy. [PowerPoint Presentation] Elmhurst University, IL. 

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