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Fun, Rhyming Books Help Your Child Learn to Read

  by Jeanne Duffey for Parent & Family
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As a rhythmic read-aloud book with large, boldly colored illustrations, "Chicky Chicky Chook Chook" by Cathy MacLennan is a ball to read to your toddler. But it's also an example of a type of book that educators recommend to aid in phonological awareness.

"Children's phonological awareness—the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words—is an important pre-reading skill that children need to be successful readers," says Lori Mangan, the Springfield-Greene County Library District's literacy coordinator.

"These smaller parts of words are called phonemes. Being able to hear the beginning and ending sounds that make up words help children sound out words when they begin to read."

Phonological awareness includes:

  • The ability to recognize rhyming words;
  • The ability to fill in sounds or word chunks that are left out;
  • The ability to combine word chunks to make a word;
  • The ability to say one-syllable words without the first sound

"Young children are much better at hearing different sounds or phonemes than adults," says Mangan. "One of the best, and most enjoyable, ways to encourage this skill is with rhymes. Nursery rhymes and rhyming and poetry books help children learn that words are made up of smaller parts."

Julie Rhodes, the librarian who purchases children's items for the Library District's collection, recommends alphabet and alliterative word books. Rhodes says "books that incorporate animal sounds, such as moo, meow or woof-woof, are helpful in fostering phonological awareness."

Mangan adds that singing can also be a useful tool "in teaching pre-reading skills. The different notes for each syllable help children break down words and develop their phonological sensitivity."

Warbling along with your child in your day-to-day routine is a fun way to learn. Check out the library's CD and audio-cassette resources to inspire to you add this simple activity to your repertoire, and soon your child will be happily learning pre-reading skills without knowing it!


-Jeanne Duffey is Community Relations Director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
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