Learning to Read? Learn the Code!

Let's hear from one of our early literacy librarians, Mary!

Did you know that learning to read for young children is a combination of these two things?

  • Comprehension: understanding what you read – what the words mean.
  • Decoding: being able to take the symbols on a page and turn them into letters and sounds, and putting them together to form words.

Let's focus on decoding. Imagine you see symbols on a page like this:

}  [&<+  ~&  ^+*)

What does it mean? If you haven't given those symbols meaning, it won't mean anything. This is what it feels like for a child newly learning to decode letters and the sounds they make. They are simply marks on a page until we put them together with names and sounds.

How can you help your young child begin the process of learning the code? Here are a few ideas:

  • Point out letters when you see them and make their sounds. Give your child letters to play with, and sing the ABC song.
  • Pick a "letter of the day" and find it everywhere you go!
  • Sing! Singing helps children hear the smaller parts that make up words. This will help with sounding out words later on.
  • When you're reading, run your finger under a word or sentence occasionally. Your child will begin to make the connection between the words you're saying and the symbols on the page.

Have fun!

PS: Here's the code key: } = I; & = O; ~ = T; [ = L; < = V; ) = D; ^ = R; + = E; * = A.

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