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Print Awareness: In Practice

Print Awareness: In Practice

There are many activities that teachers, caregivers, and parents can do to build print awareness skills in young children. Here are some guidelines below.

How to promote print awareness

Make sure students know how books are organized. They should be taught the basics about books — that they are read from left to right and top to bottom, that print may be accompanied by pictures or graphics, that the pages are numbered, and that the purpose of reading is to gain meaning from the text and to understand ideas that words convey.

Read to children from books with easy-to-read large print. Use stories that have predictable words in the text.

Use “big books” to help children notice and learn to recognize words that occur frequently, such as a, the, is, was, and you.

Label objects in your classroom.

Encourage preschool children to play with print. They can pretend to write a shopping list, construct a stop sign, write a letter, make a birthday card, etc.

Help children understand the relationship between spoken and written language.

Reinforce the forms and functions of print found in classroom signs, labels, posters, calendars, and so forth.

Teach and reinforce print conventions such as print directionality (print is written and read from left to right), word boundaries, capital letters, and end punctuation.

Teach and reinforce book awareness and book handling.

Promote word awareness by helping children identify word boundaries and compare words.

Allow children to practice what they are learning by listening to and participating in the reading of predictable and patterned stories and books.

Provide practice with predictable and patterned books.

Provide many opportunities for children to hear good books and to participate in read-aloud activities.

Teaching tip

To assess print awareness, give a student a storybook and ask them to show you:

  • the front of the book
  • the title of the book
  • where you should begin reading
  • a letter
  • a word
  • the first word of a sentence
  • the last word of a sentence
  • the first and last word on a page
  • punctuation marks
  • a capital letter
  • a lowercase letter
  • the back of the book

Pre-reader assessment

Watch how this teacher assesses where this pre-reader is with concepts of print and letter recognition.

Browse our print awareness library

Learn more about the role of print awareness in early literacy through our articles, tips for parents, video, FAQs, and research briefs. Visit our Print Awareness section