Build A Reader in 5 Easy Steps!

By Laura Raphael, Children's Services Coordinator, Tulsa City-County Library

Academic research about early literacy development can be a little heavy on, well, academic terms. But it really all boils down to one idea: there are five basic activities you should do with babies and young children to set the foundation for future reading and school success:

Talking - Singing - Reading - Writing - Playing

That's it! Storytimes at all Tulsa City-County Library locations follow the "Build A Reader" model (called "Every Child Ready to Read" at the national level), which supports and encourages these activities. Children's librarians and library staff demonstrate how and why to incorporate talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing in your interactions with children.

Here are just a few of our favorite Build A Reader tips:

  • Make reading aloud a routine part of your child's day. Many families love to use reading aloud as a going-to-bed activity, but you can also add reading to after lunch or right after waking up.
  • Sing what you are doing! Use familiar tunes but come up with new words to fit your situation. For example: to "Twinkle Twinkle," sing "We are driving in the car / Oh we're driving so, so far..."
  • Old boxes make great toys! Even just putting items in a box and taking them out can be a rich play activity for babies, and you can help older children play as if the boxes are other things: trains or tigers or mansions.
  • Did you know that waving "bye-bye" is a precursor to writing? Babies start to understand that you can use your hands to communicate with others.

For more ideas (and lots of fun!), visit a storytime at one of our 24 library locations. Find a list in the monthly event guide under "Classes & Events" at

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