Early Literacy Skills and Digital Media
I’m going to be doing a parent education program with one of the fabulous children’s librarians at my library and I’ve started to put together some thoughts about what it is that makes good quality apps for young children. When it comes to selecting ANY kind of educational material or programming for children, children’s librarians often look to the 6 Early Literacy Skills. When we present storytimes, we try to include books, songs, rhymes or games that specifically target one or more of these skills, and often point out what we’re doing to the parents to offer them tidbits of advice on how to help their child build on those skills at home. Here’s what to look for when selecting eBooks to share with your children:
Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the smaller sounds in words.
Rhyme: Correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words (cat/hat, grow/throw)
Alliteration: The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. (Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers)
Onomatopoeia: The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (boom, slither)
Non-word vocables: Moo! Baa! La la la!
Print Awareness includes learning that writing in English follows basic rules such as flowing from top-to-bottom and left-to-right, and that the print on the page is what is being read by someone who knows how to read.
Prominent text: Sometimes the words get overshadowed by interactive elements. Look for big words in an easy-to-read font.
Highlighted text: Do the words light up when the narrator says them?
Interactive text: Is there any kind of interaction with the text? Does the narrator say the word out loud when the printed word is tapped?
Print Motivation is a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books.
Engaging material: Is the eBook/App engaging enough to engage both your and your child’s imaginations?
Subject matter: Does the content appeal to your young child?
Repeated reading: Does the child ask to read it again?
Narrative skills include being able to understand and tell stories, and to describe things, events or people.
Logical storyline: Does the story make sense?
Sequence of events: Do the actions in the story follow a linear path?
Not too much interactivity: Sometimes there are so many bells and whistles that the storyline gets lost.
Vocabulary is knowing the names of things.
Wide vocabulary: Does the author use words a child might not normally encounter in spoken language?
Synonyms/antonyms: Are there a number of different words used to refer to the same thing? Opposites?
Age appropriateness: Are there enough “big” words, but not too many? Are the words used relevant to the child’s life experience?
Letter Knowledge includes learning that letters have names and are different from each other, and that specific sounds go with specific letters.
Text: Written words or letters.
Highlighted text: Are letters highlighted, either on their own or as part of a word?
Interaction: Can the child trace the letter? Tap on a letter or word and hear it pronounced?