Looking to teach your child phonological awareness and pre-reading skills? You’ve come to the right place! This post is the next in our series that addresses reading readiness skills by age group.
I am a trained, licensed Speech-Language Pathologist with teaching certification who has been working with children for 15 of my 20 years in the field. Because of this experience, I am in a unique position to offer advice about the importance of reading to and with your child.
The reading readiness skills I’m going to talk about combine two of the things I love the most: Books and language.
What is Phonological Awareness?
Phonological Awareness is the foundation of reading. It is the ability to recognize sounds and manipulate them. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I spent a lot of time learning about language development and reading readiness skills.
When I became a mom, I knew that I wanted to use books to help my kids develop these really important skills.
This task was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I wanted to find books that developed reading readiness skills.
This list of books will include some alliteration books, rhyming books, books that teach syllables as well as phoneme manipulation books.
So where should you begin?
Phonological Awareness: Alliteration Books
Everyone thinks that the most important thing for reading is learning your ABCs but, you cannot ONLY teach your child to recognize their letters. Children need to understand that letters make sounds, and words are made up of those sounds.
The first skill in reading readiness is identifying the sounds letters make as well as identifying the beginning, middle, and ending sounds of words.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of the word and is a wonderful way to help develop an awareness of sounds.
This is the perfect book to practice alliteration. Not only can you identify the beginning sounds but, you can make up your own alliteration as well. Practice choosing a letter and seeing how long of a sentence you can make with that sound.
So many monsters with so many opportunities to identify the beginning sounds and make-up your own. Purple Pete and Squishy Slug are hilarious and the perfect beginning alliteration book.
If this book does not tie your tongue in knots, that is beyond impressive but, this book is more than just a hilarious glimpse into the life of tweedle beetles. Each short section in this book is a perfect chance to talk about all the sounds- beginning, middle, and end.
You can ask questions like “what sound is different in the words puddle and paddle?”. It is a great way to examine words more in-depth and can be used as a tool for teaching phoneme manipulation in books as well.
Children also need to be able to understand the concept of rhyming when developing their phonological awareness. Rhyming is when the ending of the word stays the same and the beginning sound changes.
This concept can be a difficult one to learn at first. Children often have more trouble with the ends of words. These rhyming books will help your child become familiar with rhyming which is an essential pre-reading skill.
These dust bunnies love to rhyme and are quite excellent at it- except for Bob. He cannot quite seems to get it right. Your child will love to giggle as Bob tries to rhyme. It will also give them a chance to recognize the odd bunny out. sheep
These sheep are out on an adventure. This read-aloud book with hilarious sheep is perfect for picking out words that rhyme.
Mrs. Millie keeps making mistakes like telling her students to wear their bats and kittens. Not only is this book perfect to identify rhyming words, but it also incorporates other wordplay that will help in the development of reading skills.
Will there be room on the broom for the whole gang? This rhyming book is a story about friendship and inclusivity that is sweet and funny to read aloud to the family.
Leave it to Shel Silverstein to take rhyming to the next level with this book. The repetition and rhyming is a tongue twister- rhyme extraordinaire! Even 50 years after publication, it is still relevant. Try making up your own rhymes to add to this story of a giraffe and a half
Teaching Syllables with Books
Learning to differentiate syllables in words is an important pre-reading skill. Clapping out syllables is such a fun activity and another way to teach syllables. These books help establish an understanding of syllables in unique and interactive ways.
This book is the perfect introduction to syllables and the animals use drums to count the beats in their names. Grab a drum, a shaker, or just use your hands to clap along with elephant and skunk.
Harold loves to collect words and lucky for us, he collects them by syllable. He has one syllable, two-syllable,
Phoneme Manipulation in Books
What is a phoneme? A phoneme is a unit of sound. Manipulation of sounds in words while still understanding the meaning is one of the hardest phonological awareness skills to master.
For example, C-A-T are three separate sounds that come together to make the word cat. When kids get the hang of this pre-reading skill, their ability to sound out words independently is the next step.
Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein is a master or words and so it is no surprise that he has appeared in this list twice. Runny Babbit is a perfect example of phoneme manipulation. Throughout the story, letters are transposed but somehow, the story still shines through. Take your time to read this book to your child. Can you read it without messing up?
The monster wants shmancakes and none of the grown-ups can figure out what he wants. In addition to the rhyming in this book, the hungry monster cannot seem to get his sounds straight. Your child will be delighted to explain it to you as you read this book.
Poor Rodney cannot say his R sound which is a problem if you are a rat. The kids in school make fun of him until he saves the day when he plays a game of Simon Says.
While most of this story is about Rodney overcoming his own obstacles, the inability to say the R sound changes the meaning of words. This concept is such an important one when kids are learning how to read.
More Pre-Reading Skills
In addition to phonological awareness skills, children have to have the ability to understand spoken language. Children have to be able to understand what they are reading before they can read.
Children also need to have the ability to identify their letters and the sounds they make before they can read. This skill is different from identifying sounds they hear in a word.
Children do not need to know their letters to identify sounds. These two skills are completely different from one another. Alphabet Books are a great way to work on the skill of identifying letters and their sounds.
If you are looking for more great alphabet books, we did an entire post on it that you check out here.
This beautifully illustrated book will keep you searching the pages for hours looking at each illustration. Each page is filled with items that start with the same letter. This is the perfect way to start to introduce beginning sounds and letters to your child.
This 26 act book has wonderful illustrations to help your child learn to identify their letters and the sounds they make. I love that the vocabulary in this book is geared toward older children with words like evaporated. This book will keep kids entertained while they are learning an important pre-reading skill.